Each client represents a relationship, and is also another boss. The consultant has many bosses—clients—that must be satisfied. A Manager has many clients to satisfy and many of them are internal. Building a reputation with all clients, external or internal are vital. That’s why it’s so important to consider how client relationships are managed. Each relationship is influenced by both the consultant and the client.
Here are some of the tips that I believe the consultant or staff member can do to impact the relationship —to make the client, internal or external – happy.
1. Provide regular progress reports so there are no surprises at the end of the assignment. Clients deserve to be well informed about your work’s status at all times.
2. Avoid internal politics. Your client has to deal with organizational politics and does not want you to get involved. That would make his or her life more complicated. So avoid internal issues like a plague.
3. Emphasize the benefits of your work at all times. Clients are busy, and they often forget the value of the work you are doing. Note the benefits of the work in tangible terms as frequently as possible.
4. Define what you mean by quality work as frequently as possible. Defining quality outcomes gives you some degree of control over the work.
5. Establish channels of communication with everyone involved in your work. Where appropriate, schedule regular meetings, provide written progress reports, have frequent phone conversations, and take notes, regardless of the communication channel. An effective consultant is a great communicator!
6. Discuss small problems before they become major problems. Stay on top of the job and it won’t get the best of you.
7. Be prepared to deal with delays caused by the client that impair your ability to meet deadlines. Be extremely sensitive to deadlines and what is in the way of meeting them. Inform your client early about what is getting in the way.
8. Put yourself in the client’s shoes at all times. Know your clients and you will know what makes them happy!
What I am saying to you is that each and every one of us are marketing ourselves and building our reputations all the time. Building a resilient reputation is an everyday task.