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Client relationships: How close is too close?

Jita Sarai
Published by:
Jita Sarai
Published on:
November 14, 2014

Having been working in the finance industry for more than a decade, I know that when working closely with clients it’s inevitable that some relationships will venture from professional into friend territory. But how close is too close? What happens when business becomes too personal?

Here are a few pointers:

Set the tone: Have clear expectations.

Client relationships are a balancing act. Regular contact is vital to maintain a connection.  Take an interest in their affairs. Knowing you care will strengthen ties.  Sharing a little detail about your life will personalise the working relationship and support a deep honest connection.

Also be firm and clear with your clients from the start so there’s no confusion. You can set the tone early by gaining an understanding of the client’s expectations. Opening client meetings with a framing question creates the scope of the relationship and allows you to address any unrealistic expectations. “What do you expect from our relationship / service?”

Stay professional

Maintain the perceptions the client have of you and your business.  These are what created the foundation for a great relationship in the first place.  While a little phone banter is fine, try to keep anything work-related 100% professional. It’s natural to have a conversation about weekend plans or current events with your clients, but keep your personal life and business life… separate. Don’t drop your processes or standards just because you’re on friendly terms with a client.  Your clients will respect you for that!

Think factually not emotionally

It’s normal for a close client to not agree with your opinion or vice versa from time to time, but most are likely respond within reason. While some might react emotionally (and you might be tempted to act the same way), make it clear that you’re looking to approach a situation logically, factually and constructively, rather than get frustrated and therefore, get nowhere.

A certain level of closeness with clients can be a good thing. It builds the foundation for trust. But if you are going to become friends with clients, you need to know your boundaries so that you can have a long-lasting, deep, loyal working relationship.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This blog has been prepared by Modoras Pty. Ltd. ABN 86 068 034 908 an Australian Financial Services and Credit Licences (No. 233209), located at Level 3, 50-56 Sanders St, Upper Mt Gravatt Q 4122. The information and opinions contained in this fact sheet are general information only and is not intended to represent specific personal advice (Accounting, taxation, financial, insurance or credit). No individuals personal circumstances have been taken into consideration for the preparation of this material. Any individual making a decision to buy, sell or hold any particular financial product should make their own assessment taking into account their own particular circumstances. The information and opinions herein do not constitute any recommendation to purchase, sell or hold any particular financial product. Modoras Pty. Ltd. recommends that no financial product or financial service be acquired or disposed of or financial strategy adopted without you first obtaining professional personal financial advice suitable and appropriate to your own personal needs, objectives, goals and circumstances. Information, forecasts and opinions contained in this fact sheet can change without notice. Modoras Pty. Ltd. does not guarantee the accuracy of the information at any particular time. Although care has been exercised in compiling the information contained within, Modoras Pty. Ltd. does not warrant that the articles within are free from errors, inaccuracies or omissions. To the extent permissible by law, neither Modoras Pty. Ltd. nor its employees, representatives or agents (including associated and affiliated companies) accept liability for loss or damages incurred as a result of a person acting in reliance of this publication.

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