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Strong customer relationships are the key to sustainable business growth and brand awareness. If you want to differentiate your company from the competition, you must have a reliable customer service system in place.

Here are ten meaningful tips for strengthening customer relationships, including gift-giving, onboarding systems, and much more.

Harness the power of gift-giving

Your team will provide value to your clients in the form of knowledge and expertise. However, gifts are a time-tested way to win the hearts of your customers and make a statement about how much you appreciate the clients occupying your existing pool. Not to mention, sending gifts while abiding by the best practices mentioned in this resource will make your clients feel valued and appreciated. Here are several tips on how to integrate gift-giving into your relationship-building process:

  • Include a handwritten note with the gift to make it more personalized
  • Send the gift at the beginning of your relationship to start on the right foot
  • Make sure you get the packaging right by personalizing it
  • Ensure that client gifts fit into your budget

Are you looking for some good inspiration for client gifts? Check out some of these fun ideas below:

  • Customized client gift boxes
  • Branded stickers, decals, pens, or calendars
  • Decorative desk items like plants, pencil holders, or magnets
  • Gift certificate for a holiday meal
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Establish open lines of communication

Every solid client relationship needs a foundation of open and honest communication. Your customer needs a reliable method to contact you about any questions or account issues. Your team must establish this line of communication so you can be timely and responsive.

The first step here is establishing a go-to contact person on your team. This person should be the “first line” of communication when a customer reaches out. Some other strategies for optimal communication include:

  • Weekly or bi-weekly conference calls
  • Daily updates via email
  • Innovative brainstorming huddles with the client’s team

Understand the customer’s business

Effective client relationship building starts with understanding their world. You are in the business of solving problems. You cannot address customer issues without knowing how it impacts their role, company, and performance.

When you first start working with a company, research its history, leadership team, competitors, and past projects. That way, you can be prepared for the first meeting. Not only will this make a good first impression, but it will also allow you to bring valuable insights to the table throughout the relationship.

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Form a customer onboarding system

First impressions are critical for successful customer relationships, including the onboarding process. The beginning of a client relationship is unfamiliar territory for both parties involved, so everybody must be on the same page. A sound onboarding system will establish reliable communication channels, expectations, and key contacts. Here are some creative ways to form a sustainable onboarding process:

  • Send them a welcome package – send your new client a handwritten greeting card, company apparel, and freebies.
  • Provide necessary access – make sure all stakeholders have access to accounts, tools, and other proprietary dashboards.
  • Organize a kickoff meeting – this session ensures that everyone meets each other and is aligned on the project’s goals.

Go the extra mile

The goal with every client is to exceed expectations. The client will recommend your services to someone else when you go above and beyond.

There are several methods to go the extra mile for your clients. Here are some examples of how your team can deliver a unique experience:

  • Train the client on how to apply your work for long-term success
  • Deliver expertise and insights outside of the regular scope of work
  • Under promise and over deliver, which includes completing projects ahead of a deadline
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Seek feedback

Your customers should be your top priority. Any feedback given to your team should be used for continuous improvement. Customers can offer a unique perspective on your products, services, and customer onboarding processes.

Seek feedback from your clients through every step of the process, whether it’s at the kickoff meeting or the final stages of the prospect. Not only should you encourage feedback from your clients, but you should also directly ask meaningful questions.

Empathize and actively listen to customer concerns

The key to excellent customer service is making sure your clients feel important. You treat them with respect by listening to their pain points and providing solutions. It is one thing to listen and acknowledge customer feedback. However, it is completely different to act, update the customer on progress, and then follow through with the commitment.

Make it a habit to dedicate meeting time for this. Each time you meet with a customer, give them the floor to voice any concerns or questions. By allowing them the flexibility to do this, you can strengthen the relationship in the long run.

Be open to learning from your mistakes

While you and your team are the experts, you are also not perfect. In addition to accepting customer feedback, you should also admit your mistakes quickly. Convey to the customer that you will do whatever it takes to fix your mistakes. Keep the customer updated on your progress and make sure you follow through with your promises.

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Set clear expectations and back them up

Setting concrete expectations should be second nature, but it is critical in building trust with your clients. Your customers rely on you as the subject matter expert, so make it a habit to follow through with your commitments.

Setting expectations also applies to meetings. Every client session should have an end goal in mind, and every attendee should be on the same page. Prepare an agenda and take notes on each meeting to ensure everyone is aligned on expectations.

The expectations should not only be clearly defined, but they should have a deadline. The customer should always have an idea of when they can expect something from you.

Set up quarterly performance reviews

When you set up your goals and objectives with your client, they should all be measurable. The best way to revisit these goals is through quarterly performance reviews. If your project is short-term, you can always shrink these into monthly performance reviews. The purpose of these meetings is to assess how close your objectives and results are.

Performance reviews also allow you and the customer to identify areas of improvement. These improvements could be through communication, service offerings, or products. Establishing these periodic performance reviews will let your customer know you care.

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As you can see, there are several ways to build and maintain strong relationships with your clients. However, every partnership is built on trust. Throughout the relationship, your team should say and do everything it can to earn the trust of your clients.