Are your clients special to you? Would you like for them to continue to be your clients? Are you positive your clients know you feel this way about them? How have you shown your clients how much you care recently?
Although some professionals might claim that today’s “minimum standard” is the new “extra mile” and suggest that the answers to these questions are obvious but unnecessary (why bother doing more when no one else is?), those professionals are probably the same ones who complain that their businesses aren’t doing so well right now. So, instead of playing the blame game, take a look at your current practices and evaluate your actions from your clients’ perspective. If you can see any room for improvement, commit to taking action right now because, as any good businessperson knows, you wouldn’t be in business without clients to serve.
Here are six ways to show your clients you care:
1. Get the details right.
Whenever you communicate with your clients, you are contributing to their overall impression of you, your offerings, and your company. By getting the details right, you are maintaining your positive reputation; for example, you should remember the correct spelling/pronunciation of your clients’ names, what their biggest business motivators are, any people who they’ve mentioned are important within their personal lives (children, spouses, siblings, etc.), and any pet peeves you can avoid, to name a few.
Depending on how much time you spend with your clients, you may be expected to know even more information. If you need to take and review detailed notes before you see any of your clients, do it – they’ll appreciate your extra effort.
2. Contact your clients where, how, and when they like to be contacted.
You are busy, your clients are busy, everyone is busy; but, to have a productive working relationship, you will need to communicate from time to time. Just as you each are concerned with different priorities, your favorite systems for time management will also differ.
Do you prefer to meet in your office, theirs, or elsewhere? Would you rather schedule a phone call, send an e-mail, or randomly drop by? Are you available in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings… on weekdays only or weekends too? It was probably pretty easy for you to answer these questions for yourself; but, can you answer them for your clients? When you understand your clients’ preferences for communication, you are given the opportunity to be more accommodating.
This provides two benefits:
- While your personal preferences won’t always align with others, stepping out of your comfort zone and into theirs is a great way to show that you care, and
- By communicating where, how, and when they want you to, your clients will be more comfortable during your conversations and, by extension, more receptive to your messaging.
Put another way, my personal preferences aren’t more important than my clients’ satisfaction; are yours?
3. Act like you’re interested (or better yet, actually be interested)
in your clients as people first.
I’m just going to say it… Regardless of where you’re from, under most normal circumstances, it is rude to jump right into work.
When you finally connect with your clients, before transitioning to business, you need to break the ice. Ease into the conversation by discussing the weather, your favorite shared (or rival) sports teams, the latest industry news, or another light topic that you can bond over. Then, later, if your conversation spirals off on a tangent, regardless of what you’d rather be doing (or the million other things you have on your mind), put those distractions aside and listen actively for a few minutes before bringing the focus back to the task at hand.
After all, if you pay attention, you might even realize your company sells other offerings your client could benefit from (and, even if you can’t find an immediate application, maybe you can force yourself to appreciate how nice it is to connect with other human beings).
Making the time to show your clients you care by getting to know them better (and allowing them to get to know you) can help in strengthening your professional relationship which typically leads to more business, more referrals, and a more enjoyable working environment.
4. Sit down for two minutes to hand write a “thank you, I value you” note.
People like to be appreciated and they like it when others say nice things about them, especially when the praise is coming from awesome professionals they respect like you. As often as it feels right (you don’t have to go overboard on this – just use your common sense), pull out some stationery and a pen to write a sincere note to each of your clients. In order to make your message resonate in a meaningful way, cite specific examples from a recent conversation or your work together that meant something to you on a personal level.
Although it may be less effort for you to simply shoot them a text (or assume they already know you appreciate them and skip this process all together), a handwritten note has more staying power. That means it will be more significant to your clients and will stand out amongst the droves of e-mail, text messages, and other less impactful forms of communication they typically receive.
5. Rearrange your schedule to accommodate their last minute requests.
Sometimes things come up at the last minute and other times people get so distracted by day-to-day responsibilities that they forget about important things until the last minute. Your client knows (and you know) that whatever last minute inconvenience they’ve asked you to assist with didn’t really happen by chance… again…
Don’t rub it in their faces, don’t tell them it’s not your problem (they already know they messed up and they probably feel bad enough without any sort of reminder from you). Going the extra mile means that you don’t complain or pout; you do what you can to improve the situation and ease their stress level.
Your assistance in a time of crisis is memorable because you are stepping in when they are feeling vulnerable; depending on the severity of the situation, your clients may not even feel like they deserve your kindness. You shouldn’t act because you expect anything in return; but, in my experience, the universe typically rewards people who help others and, if nothing else, you can be proud of your good deed.
6. Think about your clients when you aren’t with them.
A popular “keep-in-touch” technique is to send newspaper clippings (or e-mail articles) and make referrals (if possible) periodically. However, instead of waiting until your calendar says it is time to remind your clients you exist and then frantically searching for something kind of relevant to share, keep your clients in mind as you go through your day to day activities. If you are constantly thinking about your clients, you are more likely to organically come across information they actually need and want (utilizing the power of positive thinking) than you would have settled for (considering your deadlines) otherwise.
As you allow your clients to occupy your thoughts outside of your direct interactions with them, you elevate them to a more important place in your life. By internalizing the idea that your clients are more important to you, you will find that your work with them becomes easier and more enjoyable too. Another hidden benefit of this method for showing your clients you care is that, when you are letting your mind work on new ways to help them, you may stumble upon an idea that will not only help them but help your company as a whole or your other clients as well.
The bottom line is, I’m not saying you should let your clients walk all over you (definitely set some boundaries and stick to them – you are running a business, after all); but, in today’s environment of reduced standards, where other professionals just aren’t trying as hard, implementing a few of these small methods will help you set yourself apart from the competition and show your clients how much you care.