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How to build a trust-based relationship with your client? by Denis de Wagheneire

08 August 2018
customer 2

Trust is the key ingredient when creating a relationship with a client. Creating and cultivating it calls for competence, openness, the ability to listen, and availability, with a hint of . . . consultancy. And at the very centre: a single contact person.

If you hope to win a client and then keep him, you need to distinguish yourself, offer added value, and build up a capital of trust, which is essential for an enduring and high-quality relationship. But how do you do all that?

 

Profiling yourself as a consultant

Today, creating a privileged relationship with the client calls for more than just being a simple service provider or event advisor. Faced with a question, a doubt, or a hesitation, the agency responds as a true consultant. Fully assuming this dimension demonstrates to the client that you’ve grasped the way he thinks and acts, his functioning, his values, and themes to be highlighted. The client relationship is an evolving code. Today one accepts the necessity of a trusting relationship, of accompanying the client in every phase of reflection, implementation of the event, and evaluation meeting. The client must be able to say to himself: if I need advice or support, even beyond the strict scope of the event, I can turn to my VO. With confidence.

 

Broadening the scope

Being a consultant also means daring to challenge the client´s briefing, questioning the relevance of his wishes, and proposing to him a perspective that is different, yet in accordance with his vision. Such frank and constructive language makes it possible to cement the trust and broaden the scope to 360°. For this, the VO systematically organizes brainstorming sessions so that several people participate in the reflection and jointly put together a proposal based on the briefing, the vision and with respect to the experiences and skills of the various members of the team. The VO’s strength is in its refusal to ever fall back on the same old ideas, proposals, solutions, or reflexes. We also integrate external individuals as necessary in order to enrich the recommendation to the client and come back to him with the best response.

 

A single contact person

You can trust in experience! The multi-channel fad – a source of confusion, interferences, malfunctions –demonstrated its disastrous effect on the image and quality of the relationship. Golden rule: a single contact person. It´s the latter´s responsibility to channel, decode, and communicate the questions and demands from the client to the teams, and from the teams to the client. Entrusting this role to a single person guarantees a single discourse or message that keeps the relationship clear. He or she maintains a global overview of the project´s evolution, stands as guarantor of the client´s vision, and can act and communicate strategically. There remains an exceptional case where two contact persons are better than one: the client who has made a long-term commitment to recurrent events. There, maintaining the trust relationship can require several levels. A purely strategic-relational level, via the head of the agency who knows the client well and with whom the project grew and became richer. And an operational level where, over the long term, a single project manager will always assume responsibility for the planning, management, and communication between the teams. Embodying the project as the field contact with the client, and working together constantly, forges an unshakeable confidence. In addition, all of the members of the team who work on the project end up knowing the client and participate in building this relationship, so that the client ends up feeling he’s been integrated into the team.  

 

Subcontracting with confidence

Trust is also at the centre of the relationship with your own subcontractors. But how to choose them? The VO uses its internal communication as talent hunter. The entire team shares its information on suppliers, and the experiences they’ve had. They make recommendations to one another on the basis of the competencies being sought. A sound and sustainable commercial relationship begins when one cultivates the aspect « you form part of the VO activity », a guarantee of a certain volume of work under correct financial conditions. Every VO member will tell you that «the goal is above all to aim for competence, and surround oneself with good people.» But - final condition - every trust relationship is also a matter of transparency, good will, and respect, with all of the stakeholders putting their cards on the table and never secretly pursuing multiple agendas at the same time.