Four ways to build authentic relationships with clients

Thousands of organizations rely on Ministry Scheduler Pro and Volunteer Scheduler Pro to schedule and communicate with over one million volunteers. Our Net Promoter Score is 61, while the industry average is 28. Only 3% of our clients choose not to renew MSP year after year. Nearly a third of our employees used Rotunda products in their own organizations before joining our team.

How have we been able to achieve these outstanding numbers? It's clear to us that at the heart of these successes is the deep, authentic relationships we enjoy with our clients. It's our clients' trust, feedback, gratitude, and referrals that allow us to continue to innovate on their behalf. Healthy client relationships are symbiotic, and, just like healthy personal relationships, they can be cultivated and nurtured.

Below are four ways that you too can develop authentic, lasting relationships with your clients.

1. Be Humble

“Your responsiveness and quality of service was one of my primary reasons for choosing your company. You were responsive even during my trial period and it was very impressive.”
Dorothy DeLuca, Mary, Mother of God (Hillsborough, NJ)

Build every potential relationship on a foundation of service. Be honest about what your product can offer and respectfully hear when it isn’t truly adding value. With service at the center of every interaction, you shift from a mindset of maximizing profits to one of providing real benefits to real people in need.

For example, even though our products are highly adaptable, volunteer management is complicated, and sometimes we can't accommodate the unique needs of a particular organization. The goal of every single outreach call our sales team makes is to learn about the existing strategies and challenges of scheduling at that particular organization to see if we can help. To help churches assess whether MSP would be a good fit, we not only offer a free 30-day trial, but we also offer a six-month money-back guarantee. If, after using the program for a few months, a church is not experiencing greater volunteer engagement, fewer no-shows, and a significant reduction in the time spent creating ministry schedules, we gladly issue a full refund of their payment.

2. Give More

“Your response to any problems I have had has been outstanding. I wish all software developers were like you folks.”
Dan Sullivan, St. Agatha Parish (Milton, MA)

A relationship doesn’t end once a lead becomes a client, and neither should your care. Taking the time to ensure your product continues to provide value and educating clients on how to maximize that value deepens what would otherwise simply be a transactional relationship. That might mean reaching out to long-time clients to show them how newly added features can be better leveraged, or proactively checking in with newer clients to demonstrate that your product is backed by real people who truly care about adding real value.

At Rotunda, not only do we provide resources to help clients set up Ministry Scheduler Pro, we also offer live topical webinars that include Q&A sessions to address clients’ individual issues. In response to the needs our support team hears from clients, we continuously add articles to the MSP Online Knowledge Base. Additionally, all clients—regardless of whether they’ve used MSP for a decade or a year—receive a periodic check-in phone call from us. These calls are a way for us to thank our clients, receive feedback, answer questions about how the program is working within their particular context, and highlight features they may benefit from but may not be aware of.

3. Listen and Learn

“The support is second to none, they can usually tell me what to do, or my suggestion is included in the next update.”
Jim Clauer, Holy Cross Parish (Deerfield IL)

Establishing open channels of communication with your clients means that you’ll sometimes hear about what’s not working or interact with clients who have suggestions for ways you can improve. Rather than brushing off critical feedback—or worse yet, trying to convince the client that they’re wrong—take these opportunities to learn how you can be of better service. Then, take steps to integrate that feedback into subsequent iterations of your product. Doing so not only keeps your product relevant amidst changing circumstances, but it also proves that meeting your clients’ needs is built into the core of your company culture.

Through outreach calls, support tickets, and surveys that get sent to both MSP administrators and their volunteers, we regularly collect candid feedback about our clients’ experience with MSP. Though most of the time our clients are very happy with the program, occasionally we hear about a new challenge a client is facing that MSP doesn’t yet solve, or a suggestion for a feature that would make the program even better. Since the beginning of MSP, we’ve used these suggestions to inform each new version we release. That means that MSP evolves based on the changing needs of ministry schedulers, coupled with our own drive to continuously innovate our software and improve the service we provide.

4. Give Back

“It's so incredibly refreshing to be able to work with people who are interested in feedback, and take suggestions seriously - to whom customer service is a real commitment, not just a word. With so many ministry companies merging into big corporations, the loss of a personal touch makes this like working in a business instead of a church. There are a lot of reasons I choose to work in a church, and you and your company helps keep that alive for me.”
Kathy O'Brien, Our Lady of Sorrows Church (Vestal, NY)

Saying thank you and giving back are critical to maintaining a truly symbiotic relationship between your company and your clients. In addition to sending out a generic email thanking a client for their purchase or renewal, find creative ways to show your gratitude. Small tokens of appreciation, like customized holiday greeting cards, let your clients know that they’re more than just a number. If a particular client offers to beta test your product or frequently refers others to your company, consider sending them a gift basket or some branded merchandise to acknowledge their contributions.

At Rotunda, we frequently discuss ways in which we can go above and beyond for our clients, and we try out new ideas every year. In addition to our annual philanthropic giving, last year we mailed personalized thank you cards to several hundred churches that have used MSP for 10 years or more to honor and celebrate the anniversary of our relationship with them. Inside the card, we included a fun photo of our team, and many clients reached out to tell us how much they appreciated the gesture. This year, we’re sponsoring conference registrations for a handful of clients that have gone above and beyond in their contributions of time, feedback, and expertise.

Build and nurture strong relationships with clients by keeping service at the core of all you do. When you ask potential and existing clients about how you can best serve them, intentionally place their needs at the center of your product development, and consistently seek out opportunities to exceed expectations, you create mutually beneficial relationships that are built to last.

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