Brilliant! A new customer has just say ‘yes’ to working with you. Now what?
Most people dive straight into doing the work, keen to do a great job, complete it on time and budget and then move on to a new project for another client. The key thing is to do a good job, isn’t it? Of course this is important, but most clients see 5* customer service as being more than an excellent job. It’s what happens around the edges that makes the real difference, how you’re treated before the work starts and after it’s finished. Clients expect you as a given to be good at your job – that’s part of the reason why they’ve chosen you!
So what are the things to be alert to to make sure your clients don’t turn tail and walk out of the door?
1. No reassurance
When they become a client, send them something early on to reassure them that they’ve made the right decision. It could be a letter to welcome them, giving details of who their main contacts will be and how to get hold of them; it could be an article relevant to their world; it could be an invitation to an event that you’re running.
2. Don’t manage expectations
Right from the beginning it’s important to chat with them about their expectations – about your service, how you do the work, how you communicate. I don’t mean only as related to how soon you reply to emails or return phone calls, although this is part of what you might agree with them. It’s also, for instance, whether they want an update from you every week or month or a quick phone call instead (even if there’s nothing much to update). It might be that they prefer phone calls to emails or vice versa. They might want a regular face to face meeting. You’ll need to find out how much detail they want in the reports you send – some clients will only have time to read a summary and some will want lots of detail. Are they happy to deal with your team members directly or would they prefer just to speak to you? Are they happy for you to invoice them, to what schedule and do they want to know when you’re reaching a certain spend?
3. Don’t share enough information with team members
You’ll need to involve your team if you want to make sure everyone is delivering a great service. Share with them information about the company and their service delivery expectations (see above), how the work came to you, how you’re going to work and communicate effectively as a team and what you (as the team leader) would like to know from team members and what their contribution will be.
4. Forget to check how happy they are
Most of us are used to receiving feedback after we’ve bought something and arguably it’s common practice in most organisations. It is also worth considering checking in with clients before work or a project is complete. Consider asking them how things are a week or a month or three months in to them working with you. It will give you a chance to iron out any teething problems and it will be welcomed by the client. Check in mid-way to make sure you’re keeping up the good work and then of course after the work to see how you’ve done. Don’t forget too to put in place more formal annual reviews you might do with clients.
Related article: Developing a Key Account Management Strategy (and how it worked in practice for one client)
5. Don’t keep in contact after the work is finished
A typical pitfall. You’ve completed the work, it’s gone well, the client is happy. But you forget to keep in contact after the work is done and only reconnect when the next project comes your way or you think you’d like to do some more work with them so call them up. Often the problem is that it can be hard to think of reasons to stay in touch. There are many reasons why this is a good idea:
- you remain on their radar should other work arise
- you’ve enjoyed working together and would like to keep in contact
- your contact moves to another company opening up an opportunity to work with them there
- it means that it doesn’t look as though you’re only on the scene when you want some more work
- you can add value by sending valuable, interesting or relevant information which might help them in their job.
Read How to build a client communications strategy for ideas about how to keep in contact.
6. Send information that’s not relevant
This relates to number 5. There’s little point in sending them articles which don’t connect to their world. They won’t necessarily be interested, for example, in the fact that you’ve opened a new office or promoted someone to team manager. Before you send anything out, ask yourself: will my contact find this interesting, relevant or valuable? If the answer is no to all three, find something else to send!
7. Forget to consider your ‘moments of truth’
These “moments of truth” describe every interaction a client has with you and anyone else in the company – from the receptionist, to voicemail they hear (and trusting the message will be dealt with and replied to in good time), emails and letters sent out including their tone and language, how they experience your website, even to what it’s like to receive an invoice from you. There are literally hundreds, even thousands, of ways a client can experience your company. Are they are all up to scratch?
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