The most rewarding part of creating a virtual business is witnessing the growth of your clients over time. Once you’ve figured out the puzzle of how to find new clients, then the focus should be on providing the best possible experience to secure their continued return. This develops a bond greater than the typical customer/service-provider relationship, as it establishes your brand’s reputation and allows for word-of-mouth to spread your name further.
To maintain these relationships, here are a few pointers you can use to build momentum with your new client so that they’ll stick around for the long haul.
- Create a structured plan for the client from the start.
Ask in the beginning what each client is looking to get out of these sessions. Some may be just trying out a new hobby. Some may be trying to explore a new career path or side hustle to earn some extra cash. Either way, get to know their motives for pursuing your service and devise a strategy from there. Once you’ve completed the first session and have put your best foot forward, figure out their interest for continuing with further sessions and ask for their availability. Create a regular schedule with them, whether it’s a weekly or bi-weekly meeting, with the purpose of keeping each session on or around the same day and time slot so that everything is booked ahead of time and you don’t have to keep scheduling new appointments each week.
However, it’s not just about scheduling regular meetings. Devise a specific plan for that client’s specific needs. This is where understanding their motives really comes in handy. Some may be looking to take a very light-hearted, casual approach to the skill you’re helping them build, while others are looking to be pushed so that they can eventually use the skill for their own career pursuits. In the latter case, having longer and more rigorous sessions may be advisable, but for the former, taking a fun, looser approach each session seems more appropriate. For each case, always encourage clients to follow through on reviewing any necessary material or implementing new practices into their daily lives, even if it’s just once in between each session, so that they can reap the full benefits of each meeting.
- Establish consistent, quality meetings.
Many athletes often live by the phrase “you’re only as good as your last performance.” While that may be a hyperbolic cliché, there’s truth in the sentiment: people notice when your best effort is being put forward. The same level of planning and attentiveness that goes into establishing a successful first meeting has to be replicated each time. To ensure you’re maintaining quality meetings each time, here are a couple of things to prioritize:
Troubleshoot all technical/connectivity issues ahead of time
We covered this more extensively in our post How to Improve your Video Calls. To recap, you want to make sure your internet connection, lighting, and video/audio quality are optimized before your meeting starts. This establishes a professional demeanor from the onset and ensures that the technology doesn’t get in the way of a successful meeting.
Be attentive and leave openings for questions throughout the meeting
Just like every client is different, each individual session is different from the previous. Last week, your client might’ve been following along precisely, understanding all the material. This week, they could be stuck, confused, or overwhelmed. Always leave breathing room to ask how they’re feeling, which parts are making sense or which concepts are going over their head, and let them ask specific questions. The only way to know if they’re understanding is to ask. Read the room and adjust accordingly. If this week’s lesson plan isn’t registering, then be adaptable and simplify.
- Stay in contact with the client
Perhaps the most essential element for developing a long-term relationship with your client is to genuinely connect on a human level. Let’s say the client goes traveling and won’t be utilizing your services for a few months or just needs to take a break from the grind, make a concerted effort to stay in touch and keep up with their lives. Perhaps the simplest way to do this is to leverage social media to maintain contact. By liking their posts, occasionally commenting or responding to their stories, or making a mental note of the experiences they’re sharing on social media can pay dividends for when they decide to pursue further meetings. Engaging with them outside of your work allows them to realize that you see them as more than just a client, but also as a fellow human being. Be encouraging, supportive, and personable; potentially incorporating their other interests into how you conduct your sessions with them moving forward.
These are just a few simple guidelines to follow when maintaining client relationships for the long haul. At the end of the day, as long as you customize a plan for the client, give quality meetings, and nurture a supportive environment, you’ll have plenty of folks who want to utilize your expertise for the long haul.
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