Every service business has one thing in common — customer service. Depending on whether the service is perceived as positive or negative hinges on the way you make the person feel. Not until they feel good, can they begin forming a relationship.
Here are some of our guidelines that have helped me forge lasting business relationships with our clients.
Know Your Client’s Business
It’s hard to speak with someone when you have nothing in common. Learn everything you can about your client’s company and industry.
- How did the company get started?
- How does the company make money?
- What keeps your client up at night?
- What do they love about what they do?
- Who are their competitors?
You get the idea. And it’s also a good idea to set up alerts because as the company evolves, you want to make sure you’re keeping tabs on their business and industry.
Honest at All Costs.
Don’t lie. I know it sounds simple enough, but I’ve meet salespeople and account managers that feel they need to cover up mistakes or hide insecurities about their company, experience, or their general lack of knowledge.
When you’re wrong or at fault, admit it. When you make a mistake, be upfront about it. This goes a long way with people. It exudes moral strength and confidence. Starting with the first interaction with the client, tell the truth. You can’t build a solid foundation on BS.
Keep in Touch
Reach out as often as you can without being obnoxious. Send them articles once in awhile about something you think they’d find interesting. Add them to your email newsletter. Give them a call at least once a month. If they don’t answer, always leave a voicemail, and make sure you state that you were only calling to check in and see how they’re doing.
Personable and Available
Emails are okay. Text message are a little better. But both pale in comparison to a face to face meeting or a phone call. Relationships are built on knowing someone. You can’t really know someone unless at the minimum you’ve heard their voice. Take the time to speak with your clients, and listen to what they have to say. You’ll be able to uncover underlying issues that they may be uncomfortable to tell you.
Choose phone over email. And meet in person if you can.
Nice & Friendly
This should go without saying — be nice and friendly. Be nice to everyone within your client’s spectrum. Give compliments. No one goes home at night and says, “Honey, you know what? I had too many compliments today.” Keep them professional, and make sure they’re genuine. People gravitate to those that treat them well, especially when they’ve had a hard day.
If you’re having a bad day, that’s not your client’s problem. And it’s unfair to think they should deal with a negative attitude. Always have a positive outlook and exude the lighter side of everything. This includes never talking bad about others, and never trash the competition.
There’s nothing worse than speaking with or being around someone that gives the impression that they would rather be doing something else. When you’re with your clients, be enthusiastic. Show them that you enjoy what you do and you enjoy working with them. But you have to be genuine. People can tell a fake laugh or goofy acting instead of being happy.
Educate, Not Infuriate
Not all of us our trained teachers. So there’s a fine line between teaching and making someone feel dumb. I’ve worked with a lot of smart clients.In fact, I would say the majority of our clients have an IQ that’s off the charts. And with some that comes as an ego that doesn’t like to be wrong or ill-informed. Help them learn your solutions, but don’t force it.
They Are the Smartest Person in the Room
Remember, they hired you. They must be pretty smart right? It’s your job to make them look incredible to bosses, colleagues, customers. When a point of difference comes up, do not argue. State your point, shutup and listen. They’re smartest person in the room. I’m not talking about playing dumb. I’m talking about conceding for the short term. You’ll know you have a strong business relationship when they call you a month later and say you were right.
Go Above & Beyond. But do it profitably.
There will come times when your client needs something that’s not in the scope. Or they may need something last minute or something that makes their job easier. Make a decision on providing it gratis. When they’re in a bind, this goes a long way. No one likes someone that nickel and dimes them. But if you’re losing money, that’s where you draw the line.
Don’t sugar coat things or beat around the bush. Your clients are the smartest person in the room. Telling them something that takes longer to process than it should only insults their intelligence and makes you look distrustful. Be direct. And if it’s bad news, make sure you have good news to deliver first.
Everything you say you’re going to do is a promise. Don’t break them. Manage them.
Keep your client informed. Always let them know the next step. And make sure you deliver on time. When you can’t. Let them know ahead of time.
Serve & Protect Your Client’s Interests
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re getting ripped off.
Check your billing. If there’s something erroneous on there, catch it before they do. Watch out for others trying to take advantage of your clients as well. We deal with a lot of media companies that promise the world to our clients.
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