Turning “Critical Clients” into “Cheerleaders”

I recently read a blog from Marisa Murgatroyd titled Nightmare Clients: How to Deal with Crazy Clients Without Losing Your Mind. I thought what Marisa had to say was valuable and I shared it with my own team. But it got me thinking about I think makes HigherLife distinct. Let’s be honest, we are not the only company in the world that provides publishing and content marketing solutions for busy, successful people and the organizations they lead. Chances are you are not the only organization in your field of business and service either.

So how do you distinguish yourself? How do you take demanding, even difficult, clients who don’t know your business and turn them into cheerleaders, raving fans who generate referrals for you and testimonials you can use to win more new business. Marisa shared three great points in her blog. Allow me to add three more to that list…

#1 – Exceed expectations – Be the person, the company that consistently goes beyond what’s expected and delivers more value than what you promised. Of course, to do this you have to first know what is expected. Often a client isn’t really sure about what it is they want. If you’re not clear on what is the goal how will you possibly be able to achieve it, much less exceed it?

Don’t assume anything! Take the extra time up front, at the beginning of an engagement and talk with your client and your team about what success at the end of the project will look like. If there is not a clear picture, paint one and ask, “How would this look to you? If this were the end result, how would you feel?” You may be surprised to learn that what you thought the client wanted or what was important to them really wasn’t it.

#2 – Be relational – This may not be important to you, but personally, I really like our clients. I like what they do. I find it meaningful and motivating to be supportive of their cause and helping them serve that cause well.

I make a point to get to know about our clients on a personal level and don’t mind them getting to know about us and about me. You’ve probably heard the adage that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I find that building strong relationships with your clients is like great seasoning on a steak. It makes everything better. And when there is a snag, a problem, (a tough bite to swallow to keep with the steak analogy), clients with whom you have a strong relationship are much more forgiving and understanding.

Building great relationships with your clients I believe begins with forming great relationships within your team. Everything flows outward. If there is toxicity within your team. If your employees feel like just a name or number they are not nearly as likely to convey personal interest and attention to your clients that they serve. Conversely, team members who feel well-loved and appreciated will convey that same emotional energy to your clients.

#3 – Over communicate – I remember back in high school being involved in the school musical. The drama teacher taught us to project that if it feels like you are over-enunciating and exaggerating your lines, chances are it will come across just fine with the audience. You know your business so much better than your clients. There are tons of decisions, processes that are intuitive to you but not to your client. The tendency is to not want to take the time to share with your clients all the details that you are doing or working on for their benefit. I agree there is the potential to bog down the process with sharing too much detail. But make a point to keep your client informed on what you are doing. Make sure they are aware of the many little things that you are doing in order to bring your client a fantastic result. It’s not bragging or tooting your own horn. You’re just educating them and inviting them (to the extent they want to be included) into your process.

The key here is to find efficient ways to communicate so that you don’t spend more time talking about your work than actually doing your work. Can you give weekly progress reports? Can you provide short celebration moments where you let the client in on some extra-mile effort or decision you made on their behalf?

Find out how your client likes to receive information. Perhaps they love email. Or perhaps they are a verbal person that already has 110 unread emails in their inbox but loves to get short, five-minute verbal updates by phone. Does your client need to see you and not just hear you or read something? Between Skype, Zoom and other technologies you have ways to “be present” with your client either by phone, text, email, in person or video chat. Clients who feel like they know what’s going on feel empowered and less like a victim. This is a sure-fire way to make even the most demanding and “nightmare-ish” client a cheerleader and raving fan.

 

 

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