To create the kind of relationship with a client that will make them want to keep coming back, it's crucial to show them your humanity and—most importantly— your vulnerability.
We all know that the backbone of any thriving agency is building good client relationships. But how do you relate and make meaningful connections to make them life-long clients?
As an Applied Epic product instructor, I have guided many clients through successful implementation and training. Since I am often specifically requested by clients for additional training, I'm frequently asked for advice on how to better connect with clients and bring them confidently through the training process. My answer is always: I see them as humans, not as clients.
The concept seems simple. However, it can be easy to overlook baseline human needs as we try to create a client relationship. We can sometimes become too professional, forgetting about empathy and compassion for the challenges our client is facing. To create the kind of relationship with a client that will make them want to keep coming back, it's crucial to show them your humanity and—dare I say— your vulnerability.
A few months ago, I was on a call with a client, helping her understand various capabilities in her management system. I wasn't feeling my best that day after several gray and gloomy days, which manifested in me stumbling over my words several times. Feeling frustrated, I paused, apologized, quickly mentioned that the gloomy days must be getting to me, and took a deep breath ready to jump back in. My client then shared she was also feeling down, and we took a few minutes to connect as humans. As she shared a personal struggle, I empathized while relating with my own personal story. She thanked me for my openness, and we moved back to the wonderful world of accounting. It was a brief conversation, but it changed the tone of our training for the better.
These are the moments that stand out to me when I think of my career as a product instructor. It was a small gesture that created trust between my client and me. Just like an insurance agent, trust is a critical component of my client relationships. My clients need to feel like they can ask any question, express frustration and problem solve with me without fear of judgment or failure.
Embrace vulnerability in conversations with your clients. Show compassion for their frustration by letting them know you can relate to their situation. Share small details about your life to find commonalities. Ask them questions about who they are as a person—such as their interests or even what they are currently watching on television—to get them talking.
At the end of the day, we are all humans trying to make the best out of our circumstances. The more we can show our humanity, the better we can work together and thrive.
Janice Sierra is senior product instructor at Applied Systems.