Do you realize the value of your existing clients?
It's often quoted in marketing circles that it costs between 60% and 600% more to sell to new clients as opposed to existing ones. It makes sense then to nurture your existing client relationships.
There are two strategies that need to be employed here:
Keep your current clients happy
Feedback has been received from larger clients in the past that they expect regular check-ups and guidance from senior staff. A nice informal way to arrange this is to buy your client lunch once a month. You can review the project for half an hour, then grab a bite to eat. The review should cover the project as a whole, any niggling problems, and discuss any upcoming projects. You should do this review free of charge.
As a Project Manager, one of the most important things you should focus on to keep clients happy is communication. For active clients, a week must not pass without a phone call or some other contact. A lot of the time this will be emails from the developer. Almost all disputes arise when you don't speak to a client for a period of time. This allows any annoyances to fester and any misunderstandings can turn into real problems.
A "client relationship problem" is when you have said "no" to a client and they let you know that they strongly disagree. In that case:
- Tell them the reasons for your stand
- Tell them that developers will sometimes do the wrong thing - clients have different opinions of what that is
- Tell them you are authorized to split a problem, offer them the solution and ask if they are happy with that solution
If they're still not happy you may need to refer them up the chain of authority.
Stay in touch with past clients
Have a system in place that allows you to stay in touch with past clients, even ones you may not have spoken to in a while: send a useful newsletter to subscribers so your business keeps fresh in their mind. That way when they suddenly realise that they need some work done, you're right at the top of the list. Secondly, have a follow up system in place so that client get a call every 3 months after a job is completed. Make it friendly, not pushy. You should use a line like 'I'm just checking in to see if everything is still running smoothly.' Setting up a system like this will result in more repeat business and less need to spend money on marketing.
Always be interested in your clients' lives outside of work: find out about their hobbies, sports interests, kids etc. If you come up with the perfect idea for a present for an important client, get it approved by your manager and send it off.