Nine Ways to Keep and Delight Clients and Customers

Expertise and talent will always attract potential customers, but in a market rife with uncertainty, it's not so much what you know, but how much you care that makes client relationships stick.

  • Stay Focused. Build a reputation around what you do well and make sure it resonates with clients. Ignore all else.

  • Start with Service. Embrace service and don't complain about the demands your clients place on you. Be real about it and your passion will show through. Create a service experience that sticks and is delightful.

  • Develop Your Expertise. Know your stuff and understand how your clients' businesses work. Understand what they care about and what they worry about. Identifying and solving problems your clients weren't aware they had will make you indispensible.

  • Exercise Empathy.This is not about you--it's about them. Understand your prospect or client and do your homework. Don't sell what you have: Provide what they need. Be empathetic and your client will turn to you as a trusted advisor and not just a vendor.
  • Be Generous. Show you care by sharing what you know. Offer a stream of information that matters to clients and their businesses. Don't send junk; quality has to be the top priority.

  • Say "Yes" -- Always. Be the source they want to work with because you're good at what you do and you're easy to work with. Smart and competent gets you to the table, but delivering on the human factor in business is what will keep you there. There's no project too small to help a client. Think of additional services as an investment in the relationship and don't charge for everything. Be a positive force behind your client and make it easier for them to achieve their goals.

  • Connect and Enable. If you are unable to do the work in a top-tier fashion, connect the client with someone you know who can. They will respect that you have their interests at heart and want only the best outcome for them.

  • Be Patient. Be there for your client and be in it for the long haul. Even if your client is having trouble deciding on something, you have to stay the course with them. Always look at the potential lifetime value of a client, not just the transaction or project. Over time, you become the one who has institutional memory and are able to provide continuity and perspective as your client's leadership and staff change.

  • Over-communicate. Listening is more important than talking when building a relationship. When you have something to say--a salient observation, a contrarian position, or an honest assessment, don't hold back.

Great client service is a feeling and thinking proposition. Putting empathy, good will, and generosity into action will do more than just engage customers--it will inspire them to rally behind you as your brand's most effective ambassadors.

Ron Cappello is the founder and CEO of Infinia Group, a brand strategy and design firm based in New York City. He can be contacted at 212-463-5101 and rcappello@infiniagroup.com.