It’s no secret that your clients have more options than ever these days.
If your business fails to meet their expectations, then there’s likely a competitor just a few clicks or a phone call away.
Naturally, companies are catching on and making customer support and customer satisfaction a top priority.
In fact, client experience is becoming a battlefront.
According to Gartner, 95% of business leaders believe customer experience (CX) teams must deliver a superior or world-class customer experience yet most CX leaders doubt their current project selection strategy can accomplish these goals.
In this article, we’ll not only define client management but teach you client management best practices, and show you a fantastic client management tool that’s guaranteed to create a better client experience and more happy clients.
What is client management?
Client management, also known as customer relationship management, is a method of attracting, managing, and building relationships with potential, current, and past customers.
Ultimately it’s the practices that a company follows while interacting with its client base.
Client management is a practice performed in a wide variety of industries and heavily focuses on identifying the client’s needs so they can improve their experience working with the company.
Day-to-day client management involves a wide array of activities, such as engaging with clients via telephone, email, and social media by answering questions, managing conflicts, gathering feedback, and strategizing future opportunities.
Improving the customer relationship isn’t about saying “yes” to every request and bending over backward to retain their business. It’s more about positioning yourself as a trusted ally.
Someone they can count on to deliver a product or service when promised and who’ll offer advice, expertise, and — possibly — friendship.
The benefits of client management
When performed correctly, the client management process fosters goodwill and trust, increases customer satisfaction, and ultimately leads to greater client loyalty and retention.
Keyword being retention.
Everyone knows keeping a customer is less expensive than finding new ones. The customer acquisition process of building awareness, generating leads, qualifying prospects, and selling is costly and time-consuming.
With client retention, you’re simply ensuring your new client feels supported and sees the value of working with you. That process is straightforward but not necessarily easy.
For starters, your company has to keep its brand promise. Any wavering on the quality of products or services provided can cause a client to jump ship.
On the other hand, satisfied customers tend to have more brand loyalty and, as a result, generate greater revenue through their repeat business.
Happy clients also tend to act as a promoter for your company spreading the word that you do great work.
What are some important client management skills?
The benefits of client management are clear. But like all good things in life, there’s a strong chance you’ll encounter obstacles along the way.
Not all clients will be easy to get along with for a variety of reasons.
Some clients have unreasonable expectations or a somewhat prickly demeanor. Some don’t carry stress well and lash out in unpredictable ways. And many need constantly reminding of the value of your partnership.
As a client manager, you’re going to need a special set of skills to navigate these hurdles.
Client management isn’t rocket science, but there is an art to it if you want to wow new clients and consistently impress your longtime ones.
Here are some of the skills you’ll want to have.
The best clients are empathetic, understanding, and forgiving.
They also trust that you’re a professional and have their best interest at heart. That being said, very few companies are lucky enough to have a portfolio full of these dream scenario clients.
Like most, you’ll have a mixed bag of clients, and some of the more challenging client relationships will test you. There’s a decent chance you’ll have to repeat yourself over and over, with slightly different approaches each time.
You’ll get unreasonable requests, calls outside of working hours, and even the occasional poor attitude.
How you react to these tests of patience directly determines whether you’ll be a successful client manager or not.
To improve your patience and the client experience, try thinking of them as a newcomer to your team that simply needs a little extra hand-holding.
If that doesn’t work, remind yourself that they’re the ones that pay the bills, and sometimes you have to bend a bit to maintain your livelihood.
A key communication skill to have is the ability to engage in active listening. Sure, when your clients are speaking, you’re “listening” as in you can hear them, but that’s a little different than active listening.
Active listening adds affirmation to the conversation by nodding your head and saying things like “alright”, “I see”, or “sure, that makes sense” to show that they have your undivided attention.
It means maintaining eye contact throughout the conversation and repeating back a summary of what they said to confirm your understanding.
Repeating what they said often sounds like, “what I’m hearing you say is…” or “if I understand this correctly, you’re wanting…”
Customer relationship management thrives when your customer believes you truly care and nothing shows that better than actively listening when they’re providing feedback, expressing frustrations, or giving instructions.
The executive editor of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly, believes that being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points.
What he means by that is IQ is chiefly measured by raw capacity. While having the capacity to do something is important, how you apply that capacity is more important.Someone enthusiastic about their client’s problems, needs, and desires will win over hearts and minds much better than someone smarter or with a more impressive resume.
Client retention is highly susceptible to not only results but the likability of the client manager.
If the client manager is detail-oriented, excited to try new things, and relentlessly optimistic, then you better believe the client’s experience will soar as a result.
On the contrary, someone who’s technically smarter or better equipped but just isn’t into the project or meshing with the client will likely deliver an inferior end result or do so in a way that lacks depth or excitement.
While it’s tempting to say “yes” to every request, even if it’s outside your scope or you don’t have the bandwidth, it’s often better to be upfront about your limitations.
Transparency and honesty is the key to maintaining a thriving customer relationship. Having candor helps create a more realistic working relationship that builds mutual trust and respect.
Sometimes the truth isn’t popular or easy to hear, but a client manager with a reputation for integrity will gain the admiration and respect necessary to be a partner versus a vendor.
Plus, being frank and forthright cuts through the fluff and makes for a more cohesive working relationship free of schmoozing, which ultimately delivers a better client experience.
It’s worth noting that being candid isn’t an excuse for speaking without courtesy or tact. You can set expectations or break the “bad news” while still remaining empathetic and kind.
Client management best practices
Now that you have a better understanding of the skills required to be a successful client manager, it’s time to explore client management best practices that will not only improve the client experience but yours as well.
Pre-qualify clients to ensure you’re taking on the right clients in the first place. Vetting clients starts with a proper understanding of the clients’ needs and expectations. Then, it’s up to you to decide whether you have the bandwidth, capability, and personality that will best suit them.
Prioritize communication with a loyal customer or new client. It’s challenging to consistently overdeliver and wow clients over long stretches of time, so building rapport early on and maintaining a strong communication system helps keep clients engaged.
Create contingency plans and communicate early to the client if you can’t deliver as promised so they can change course and mitigate potential losses. Sometimes having processes, procedures, and communication plans in place for unfortunate events can save both you and your client time, money, resources, and headaches.
Plan out your key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure you’re on the same page from the beginning. A big part of this process is coming to an agreement as to what success looks like and setting realistic goals that are both measurable and attainable.
From there, you just have to plug your goals and KPIs into your client management system of choice and get to work.
Manage clients from beginning to end with monday.com
Juggling multiple clients and more than one project at a time is quite the undertaking. There’s the constant client communication and prioritization of customer service. You’re also tracking KPIs, ensuring deliverables arrive on time, and possibly searching for new clients at the same time.
To maintain balance, you’re going to need the right tool.
monday.com is a Work OS that’s easily customized to create a personal client management system that fits your unique needs.
Customizing your board is easy with our drag-and-drop interface and intuitive layout.
Below you’ll find some tips for building your own customer relationship management board on monday.com.
Assign ownership, priority, and task status
monday.com boards thrive on customization thanks to the 30+ customizable column types. With client management in mind, you can use the following columns to stay on top of tasks and communication.
- People columns can assign a person, or multiple people, to specific tasks, which promotes transparency, ownership, and accountability
- Status columns can signify a task’s priority, which helps your team plan their day. High priority items are highlighted in a bright color to provide a sense of urgency, while low priority items that can wait are a softer, less attention-seeking color.
Status columns can also be used in other ways, such as showing the task’s progress with selections like not started, in-progress, ongoing, stuck, or done.
Knowing who’s responsible for what, where your priorities for the day are, and having a simple overview of the client’s needs is invaluable to the client management process.
Schedule your tasks with date columns
Sometimes a simple date column is all you need to show when a client’s task is due for completion.
We’ve got that covered and take it a step further. Here’s how.
- Deadline mode syncs your status columns with deadline dates to visually see when a due date is looming or further away. The embedded automation will update and cross out the date as the status changes too.
- The timeline column provides a visual representation of how long it will take to complete a task or project.
- The time tracking column provides a handy timer that you can start or stop, which helps keep up with hourly billing requirements.
Finally, take advantage of the timeline view to see how work is spread across your entire team.
Sometimes client satisfaction is as easy as spreading your resources evenly, so no task or project gets short-staffed.
Customize the rest to fit your unique needs
Now that you’ve got the basics of who, what, and when covered, it’s time to get creative.
The following columns are invaluable to creating a tailor-made client management system that’s sure to improve both their and your experience.
- Tag columns specify the types of projects these tasks are related to, plus any other use you can dream up for them. They’ll act as links to other boards, so everything ties together seamlessly.
- Number columns are useful for adding task completion estimations by hours, days, or other units of measurement like budget, counting, and more.
- World clock columns are useful if your working relationship spans multiple states, countries, or continents.
- Long text columns are a catch-all that are great for adding must-see notes on specific tasks or comments on the client’s requests.
The list of customizable column types feels endless, and so are the possibilities.
Getting started in client management
Whether you’re in charge of project management, client management, or simply want to cultivate a better client relationship, monday.com has your back.
As a Work OS, its flexibility knows no bounds and is useful for client management and a variety of other tasks around your organization.
The instructions above will help guide you through creating your own client management board in monday.com, or you can skip ahead and start using our Client Management Template.
With a 14-day no credit card required free trial, you’ve got nothing to lose and plenty of happy clients to gain. Get started today.