Ask any Trekkie fan if they are familiar with Mr. Spock, and you will most certainly hear a variety of answers. More than likely, they can quickly characterize his trademark look, rational approach, and recite some of their favorite Spock lines.
CBS Entertainment via giphy.com
For the few who may be unfamiliar with Mr. Spock, he was a half-Vulcan half-Human character with pointy ears and eyebrows, and he was one of the three central characters of the original Star Trek series. Mr. Spock served as a Starfleet Officer under Capt. James T. Kirk in the USS Enterprise. His Vulcan side prevented him from showing any emotion, so the character is known for his no-nonsense, logical answers, as well as his signature Vulcan hand salute which was followed by the line, "live long and prosper."
As a business owner, you can take the Vulcan greeting to heart, since you definitely have a vested interested in running a successful and prosperous company for the long haul. Keeping a rational approach in mind, Mr. Spock might advise the following six logical things to know concerning long-term client relationships:
Logic #1: Keep a laser focus
When you first pursue a client, you probably focus all your attention on them, making them feel like your top priority. You take the time to understand their needs and goals, and craft original non- ‘cookie cutter’ solutions. Once they became a client, it can be challenging to maintain the same level of focus; however, do not allow complacency to set in. Remember, it is often cheaper to keep current clients than to find and cultivate new client relationships. In a Forbes article written by Patrick Hull, he cites statistics from the book Marketing Metrics, which states businesses have a 60–70% chance of selling to an existing customer while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5–20%. Keep your focus on the client relationship, so they don’t feel the need to shop your competition; in the event they do, the level of service you provide will be hard to beat.
Logic #2: Seek opportunities
While it is important to pursue potential opportunities to capture new clients, it is equally important to keep an eye out for ways your client is able to improve their own business. This doesn’t mean bombarding your client with needless information you come across. Rather, think about sharing the article you read which described a new process which might improve your client’s business. The next time you throw a party, invite your clients and give them a chance to network with each other. Or, maybe it’s as simple as educating your client on additional services your company now provides that my be relevant for them. That's the key--the relevance to them. If done with due diligence and with genuine spirit, your clients will value your efforts and time taken, which may lead to deepening your client’s loyalty.
Logic #3: Accountability always
Keeping your commitments and always being honest about a situation ensures your integrity stays intact. Don’t be tempted to tell a little white lie to excuse your missed deadline or your failure to return their call or email. You've built trust over time and should value all that it's worth. Trust can take years to build, but only a second to lose.
Logic #4: Stay fascinating
Spock said the word ‘fascinating’ in several Star Trek episodes in a variety of situations. He said, “Fascinating is a word I use for the unexpected.” In your client’s eyes, would they consider your company fascinating? Do you take the initiative to stand apart from competitors? Do you have long-term plans for your client? If so, are they aware of your plans? An article in Entrepreneur magazine details how Sally Hogshead coined the term ‘fascination advantage,’ while working as a creative director for brands such as Coca-Cola, BMW, Nike, and Mini Cooper. She explains, “You don’t live on a desert island. It’s about figuring out the specific aspects of who you are that are very valuable to people, and the ones that aren't.” Fascinate your clients—with your story, your plans, and your passion to succeed.
Logic #5: Encourage feedback
Keep the lines of communication open and encourage feedback. Your clients rely on you to keep them abreast of everything from the status of projects to roadblocks you may have encountered. Conversely, don’t assume your client is happy with the outcome of the latest project. Constructive criticism should be appreciated and will help you solve any issues of concern and, if necessary, enables you to make adjustments on upcoming projects.
Logic #6: Remain thankful in an 'old school' way
When was the last time you went old school and actually sent a client a handwritten note of thanks? Yes, you could send a text or email, but it just doesn't carry the same weight as taking the time to write a note. Don’t underestimate the value of a genuine expression of gratitude. Take the time to hand write a note, and send it off via snail mail. Everyone likes to feel special and appreciated; authenticity will shine through. A Houston Chronicle article points out the significance of thank you notes by stating most business people know to verbally say thank you after a meeting, but that's where the communication ends. Unfortunately, many business associates may be missing out on an opportunity to stand out from the crowd—the extra time and effort in a handwritten communication can help strengthen potential client relationships or reinforce current ones.
As a business owner, you recognize your level of success is dependent on maintaining positive relationships with existing clients. There's a lot of time, work, and effort associated with this endeavor, as well much to gain. Also, you are quite aware it is illogical to think clients will continue conducting business with you just because they have been around since you opened shop. Stay in it to win it. In the immortal words of Mr. Spock, “Live long and prosper.”
What are some logical steps you have taken to maintain your successful long-term client relationships?