Delegate, Focus, and GROW Your Business

How to Build Trust in Your Client Relationships


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Building solid, lasting relationships with clients is one of the most important aspects of being a virtual administrative assistant, commonly known as a “VA”.  During my years as a VA, the most important thing I’ve learned is you have to build and maintain trust between youself and the client.

It’s true that if you’re getting paid to do something, you should do it –– and do it well. But it is not always that simple. Suppose you have a vague job description, a large workload, and/or a very busy client? Well, the following tips will help you build a long-lasting relationship that will keep you on track and your client happy.

1- Know your client well.

Knowing and understanding your client’s business is critical. You need to know how they like things done, how much time you have available for tasks, how long to spend on a particular project or assignment, and how to prioritize.

I have a client that is very involved with her community. People are always looking to schedule meetings and public events with her. My main task (first priority) is to sort through the email and schedule appointments according to her standards and availability. She gets lots of email and I only have 60 minutes to complete this task.

To maximize my time I respond to all emails and phone calls right away. I keep all the applications I normally work with open and visible on my desktop. The applications will vary depending on the nature of the work. For example, when scheduling meetings I have my client’s calendar, email, time zone clocks, and instant messenger open to quickly offer several options for meeting requests, or answer questions. My client sees immediate results and never wonders if I’m on top of things.

2 – Keep communication open.

In a team environment, open and ongoing communication is essential. I use a “live” Google Doc document, which the client and I constantly update. When my client is in a meeting, I can text a message that there is a question in our shared document. The client can then open the document and reply to my question, without disrupting the meeting!

There are also online platforms like Asana or Podio (free) that help you easily create, assign, follow, and comment on tasks, so you always know what’s getting done and who’s doing it. The sooner you can inform your client of a problem, the better.

3 – Regular status updates.

Let your client know that you are always aware of where each of their projects are in the pipeline, keeping them on top of things. Send a regular status report daily or weekly and consider it a living document. Let your client know you are aware of every detail in each ongoing project. It’s the secret ingredient for building trust with clients. Stay one step ahead of the game by informing your client of the result of their efforts and actions before they ask. Share your knowledge regularly.

4 – Take a personal interest.

I take an active interest in learning about my client’s family or after-work activities. Finding something in common helps me to understand the client better, and it helps them to understand me. Remember their birthdays, anniversaries, and important dates. Be sure to send a quick note acknowledging that something important is going on in their life.

5 – Add value.

Sometimes the best way to enhance your business relationship is to invest in the relationship by adding value. Give clients a free idea, or throw in an extra logo at no additional charge.

6 – Be dependable.

If you say you can do something in a certain time frame, make sure you do it. There is nothing worse than missing a deadline. It’s much better to exceed expectations by giving yourself more time and delivering sooner, than to disappoint by promising something unrealistic and missing the deadline.

6 – Be accountable.

Admit mistakes as soon as they happen and take full responsibility for them. Excuses will only make it worse. The backbone of building trust is accountability, so own it and move on!

These things tend to be remembered and appreciated by clients — resulting in a longer and healthier relationship. Why does it matter? Because a great VA/client relationship is not just about doing great work, it is about doing great work together! The only way that can happen is when trust is earned over time.

Photo credit:  http://www.scrabblepouguois.fr/

 

Posted on September 18th, 2013 by Lillian Koenig, Virtual Assistant

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