Research from McKinsey & Company has shown that improving client experience can increase sales revenues by 2–7% and overall shareholder return by 7–10%. It's no wonder so many companies have turned to technology to manage customer relationships and improve that experience.
This post lays out everything you need to know about client relationship management, including 9 best practices that can build unshakable trust with your existing clients, raise client retention, and turn even grumbling customer feedback into happy clients—predictably and repeatedly.
What is client relationship management?
Client relationship management (CRM)—or customer relationship management—is the process of building and nurturing relationships with current and prospective clients and customers, as well as the technology that helps facilitate that process (CRM software). It involves collecting and analyzing customer data to improve customer satisfaction and client loyalty.
CRM systems include powerful tools for contact management, messaging integration, sales automation, and other customer experience tools designed to optimize customer interactions, collect honest customer feedback, and strengthen relationships with clients.
The importance of client relationship management
Client relationship management (CRM) is crucial for businesses because it helps build and maintain strong relationships with clients. By effectively managing client relationships, businesses can improve customer loyalty, satisfaction, and retention.
For a sales team, CRM technology can automate various sales tasks, reducing the time and marketing costs required to nurture potential clients and onboard new customers.
CRM tools can also help businesses understand their clients' needs and preferences—identifying new products or services they need, suggesting custom-tailored solutions, and uncovering upselling or cross-selling opportunities for increased revenue and profitability.
The continuous, positive touch points of a CRM platform can be the glue that keeps your most important clients closer than ever.
Benefits of effective client relationship management
Implementing client relationship management best practices reap many benefits, including:
- Increased customer loyalty: Effective CRM builds strong relationships with customers, driving increased loyalty and repeat business.
- Improved customer satisfaction: By understanding and meeting the specific needs and preferences of clients, CRM improves customer relationships and enhances client satisfaction.
- Enhanced communication: Maintaining an efficient CRM system allows for effective communication with both potential and existing customers, for better understanding and collaboration.
- Increased referrals: Highly satisfied clients are far more likely to refer your business to potential new customers, for effective word-of-mouth advertising.
- Higher revenue: Building strong relationships with clients leads to repeat business and upselling opportunities, ultimately increasing revenue for the business.
- Better customer retention: Effective CRM can help identify and address any issues or concerns quickly, improving customer retention rates.
- Personalized service: By understanding clients' preferences and needs, businesses can provide personalized services, leading to a higher level of customer satisfaction.
- Automated tasks: CRM software applies automation to routine sales and customer service tasks, providing positive experiences and building positive relationships efficiently.
- Competitive advantage: Well-managed CRM software gives business owners a competitive edge by building long-term relationships and providing superior customer service.
9 best practices for client relationship management
Effective CRM can turn potential customers into life-long fans. These 9 best practices can improve your customer interactions and keep your clients happy.
1. Establish clear communication channels
A positive client experience starts with clear, open lines of communication. Make sure clients know how to reach you, and be sure to respond to messages quickly. Nothing builds trust like being responsive and available.
2. Regularly update clients on progress
Keep your clients informed about your progress, including any updates that may affect them. Transparency and dependability are key ingredients in turning that first engagement into a long-term relationship.
3. Be proactive
Don't wait for your clients to reach out to you with questions or concerns. Take the initiative to check in with them regularly and anticipate their needs. Communicate regularly, deliver early, and talk through potential problems as soon as they're identified.
4. Build personal connections
Take the time to get to know your clients on a personal level. Remember important details about their lives, preferences, and challenges. Strong relationships with clients—or with anyone else—start with a personal connection.
5. Provide exceptional customer service
Always go above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service. Respond promptly to inquiries, resolve issues quickly, and make sure your clients feel valued and supported throughout their entire experience with your company.
6. Be transparent and honest
Transparency and honesty are critical for strong client relationships. Be clear about any challenges or limitations and communicate openly about what you can and can't deliver. This helps manage expectations and avoids potential misunderstandings or disappointments.
7. Offer personalized solutions
Remember, every client is unique. Tailor your approach and solutions to meet their specific business goals. This shows that you value them and care about their bottom line.
8. Continuously educate and inform
Position yourself as a trusted advisor by continuously educating and informing your clients about industry trends, best practices, and new opportunities. This positions you as an expert in your field and helps your clients stay ahead of the curve.
9. Show appreciation and gratitude
Finally, don't forget to show appreciation and gratitude for your clients. Celebrate milestones together, send personalized thank you notes, and offer exclusive perks or discounts. Showing gratitude helps strengthen your bond and encourages long-term loyalty.
Improve your client relationships with BILL
CRM strategy helps you build trust with clients through clear, responsive communication with your clients. Nothing undermines that effort more than failing to do the same thing when it comes to billing. Invoices should be clear, timely, and expected—providing a smooth client experience with no surprises.
BILL Accounts Receivable helps you simplify client billing and make sure it's in line with your CRM efforts.
- Create clear, professional templates that meet client expectations
- Schedule dates for timely billing
- Avoid awkward customer calls and questions with automatic status tracking
- Set up polite, customized nudges that fit your messaging strategy
Discover the power of BILL Accounts Receivable invoice automation—and get paid 2x faster.
What does a client relationship manager do?
Client relations managers are responsible for building and maintaining customer relationships for a company or organization. They represent the primary point of contact for clients and are tasked with understanding their needs, addressing any concerns or issues, and ensuring that they're satisfied with the products or services provided.
Client relationship managers also strive to identify opportunities for upselling or cross-selling to clients, as well as collaborating with internal teams to deliver on client expectations. They play a crucial role in fostering long-term partnerships and driving customer loyalty.
What makes a good client relationship manager?
Good client relationship managers are highly skilled in communication and relationship-building. They're skilled at establishing trust and rapport with clients, making them feel valued and understood. They have excellent listening skills and can anticipate their clients' needs.
They're also proactive in addressing any issues or concerns and can provide solutions quickly and efficiently. A good client relationship manager is highly knowledgeable about the products or services their company offers, helping them educate and advise their clients.
Most importantly, good client relations managers are organized, reliable, and responsive, ensuring that clients feel supported. Because they're often responsible for dozens or even hundreds of clients, they rely on CRM systems for critical information and notifications—from new client messages to personal preferences and birthday reminders.
What is the key to a successful client relationship?
Successful client relationships boil down to great communication—clear, open, honest, knowledgeable, responsive, proactive, and personalized communication.
Building a customer-first company culture starts with that one key principle.