Client Care. Two little, but very important, words in business. Unfortunately, GOOD client care (also known as customer service) seems to be fading quickly and becoming a thing of the past. At least it seems that way with many of the small businesses I encounter nowadays.
Might it be that business owners have forgotten the one key reason they actually have a business? Their clients! No matter how you look at it, without clients, we have no business. Plain and simple.
So, if our clients are the main reason we are in business, why do we hear so many horror stories from new clients and colleagues about poor client care?
I’ll admit, sometimes we can get so busy and bogged down with the everyday goings on of business and life in general that we get distracted and lose sight of the most important reason for our business’ success: our clients. We must always remember that, at the end of the day, our clients are the reason we have a business and why we continue to stay in business. They aren’t just a means to an end ($$), and not just an interruption while conducting business.
The words “client care” and “customer service” really have the same meaning and intent. For the purposes of this article, I’ll be using the term “client care,” since I am referring to the care we provide our clients. I think it speaks a little more clearly to what we all do and with whom we work.
Here are some tips to refresh our minds about some of the ways we can provide great client care.
Know What You Know and Admit What You Don’t: As a speaker, coach or service provider I’m sure you understand the need to constantly grow and learn. Our clients look to us for knowledge and guidance, and when an issue comes up and we don’t have the answer, a flat “I don’t know” simply doesn’t cut it. I read somewhere once that the real definition of “expert” is not just someone who has all the answers, but someone who knows where to find the answers. When faced with something you’re unsure of, your response should be; “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”When a client has an issue and we don’t have the answer, “I don’t know” doesn’t cut it.Click To Tweet
Be Responsive: Nothing is worse than waiting for acknowledgment when your system is down, something isn’t working as it should, or you’re confused about a project. Stellar customer service involves responding as soon as possible to a client’s inquiry, even if it is just a quick “let me check into it.” This way your client knows you’re on top of things, and you respect them enough not to put them off.
Think Before You Speak: Sometimes one of the most difficult things in business is to be patient. When we are frazzled, swamped, and running late it may be very hard to be patient with a complaining or needy client. These are the times you need dig down deep, think before you say something you might regret. Sometimes you just need to bite your tongue; because losing your cool and showing your annoyance will only add fuel to the fire, and can do long-term damage to your relationship and reputation.
Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: This may sound like a corny, old-school adage; but when talking about client care, it still rings true. Take a moment to put yourself in your client’s shoes and provide for them the client care YOU would expect. This ensures they have a great experience working with you, and gives them one more reason to continue doing so.
Take Responsibility For Your Actions: No one likes mistakes, but they do happen. If you mess up, fess up! Take responsibility and fix the problem right away. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years that has never proved to be wrong, it’s “honesty is still the best policy.” Own up to your mistake, correct it, and move on. This goes for the mistakes of your team as well, but with the understanding that you are the business owner, and the buck stops with you!
Go Above and Beyond: In an effort to provide the best client care you can, not only do you want to avoid providing “bad” client care, you should also want to go above and beyond and provide “great” client care. Sandy Martini of The Martini Way is a great example of someone who provides “Extreme Client Care.” In fact, she’s well-known for it. My last bit of advice would be to follow Sandy’s example and go out of your way to do things for your client that make them feel special and well taken care of. Make working with you easy. Send notes and cards to celebrate their birthday or anniversary or special business days. Send them small gifts from time to time … they don’t have to be big gifts, just something small to say “hey, I’m thankful for you!”
Providing good client care isn’t that difficult and shouldn’t require a great amount of effort on your part, IF you keep in mind who and what your clients really are and what they mean to your business success.
Be thankful for each of your clients. Give the same respect and service to them you would want given to you. And go out of your way to show them how much you really do care and how special they are.
If you get a reputation for having bad or non-existent client care, nothing else you do will matter. It’s what will set you apart from your competition – in either a good way or a bad way. It’s your choice.
Make sure great client care is the “culture” of your business. Starting with you and extending down to every member of your team.
Because when everything is said and done … your clients ARE your business. Without them, you really don’t have a business. And we all know it’s much easier to keep good clients than it is to get new ones. So let’s keep them; and keep them happy, by providing great client care!
Also published on Medium.