It’s the time for everyone’s least or most (depending on relationship status) favorite “Hallmark Holiday” – Valentine’s Day. I am presently single, so I’m not too excited for V-day. But, the overly commercialized holiday presents a great opportunity to reflect on types of relationships that aren’t romantic. I’ve realized that romantic relationships and client relationships have many similarities (and MANY differences), and some advice I have received on romantic relationships can also be applied to client relationships. Just like a significant other, clients expect to be treated well and participate in a mutually beneficial relationship. Here are a few classic pieces of romantic advice that translate well for client relationships:
- It’s not always meant to be.
We’ve all been there. Breakups are the worst. Some are easy, and some are incredibly painful. Similar to dating, sometimes working with a client just doesn’t work out. And, that’s okay. As they say, “There are more fish in the sea.” If group projects have taught us anything, it’s that not everyone can work together. People have differing viewpoints, goals and working styles. It’s the same in the classroom and in the workplace. Grab some heart-shaped chocolate, maybe even some wine, and remember that when one door closes, another one opens. The recovery period may take a while, but there’s no better feeling than moving on.
2. No two relationships are the same.
Just like how all personalities are different, so are relationships. People have different expectations of how they would like to be treated, and it is the responsibility of the relationship members to recognize those expectations and meet them. For example, one Valentine’s Day I was surprised with a giant bouquet of flowers. While the flowers were beautiful, they were given to me because it was assumed I would like them based on the preferences of girlfriends past (I would have much preferred a giant vat of chocolate). Treating all clients the same does not make them feel special or appreciated. Learn what they like early on and remember those unique quirks later. Does the client prefer phone or email communication? Do they like seeing the creative process or just the final product?
3. Practice good communication.
Knowing a client’s communication style and preferences is the beginning to good communication. Start with basics like determining who will be their point of contact and a schedule or routine. Like significant others, some clients like to be smothered, and some like their space. If a client prefers to be notified about every single decision made regarding their account, then do so. If they would rather only hear about the bigger stuff, then keep quiet until the time comes around. A lack of good communication is one of the most common relationship problems. There’s nothing worse than feeling ignored or being irritated by an influx of messages. Find a balance that works and smooth sailing will ensue.
For more tips on building and maintaining strong client relationships, check out this Forbes.com article. Happy Valentine’s Day!