Sometimes there just isn’t enough time. You’re sick, your kid’s sick, your mom needs your help, your taxes are due, and your daughter needs 24 cupcakes decorated like unicorns by tomorrow morning. And you REALLY need to track down 4 more chintz fabrics, find more networking opportunities to get more clients, and find a new warehouse for deliveries. Plus you have to keep a smile on your face while calling back all of your current clients, your prospective clients, and your old clients. But you just don’t have it in you.
I understand. Sometimes life just drowns you with responsibility. And all you can do is keep your head down, push on, and slowly put out all of the fires. While putting those projects that you really need to do for the success of your business on the back burner. Over and over and over again.
Simple Client Care is the Best Client Care
The good news is that when is comes to client care, that’s ok. Customers know you’re a small company. Not a giant corporation with a million dollar budget. No customer is expecting you to have a 24 hour helpline, online chat option, and a team of people waiting to address customer issues shared on Twitter. They’re not expecting you to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy meals and gifts. They just want you to consistently deliver upon a few simple values. Ones that I’ve said before, and I’ll say them again. As they’re just that important. Get these right and you’ll outshine 99.99999% of businesses out there. Big or small.
The Top 5 Priorities for Client Care
1) Say what you’ll do. And do what you say. – Tell your clients when you’ll call them back with an answer. Tell your clients when they should expect to know the pricing of an item. Tell your clients when you’ll find a replacement for a backordered fabric they loved so much. And then do it within that time frame. Every single time. Simple as that.
2) Be friendly in everything that you do. – As much as possible, be friendly. Smile. Welcome their questions and happily answer them. If they would prefer to keep an item that they love but you think it’s hideous, delicately share where else that piece might be used. Respect and appreciate what they’ve done to decorate their home even if it’s the most horrifying thing you’ve ever seen.
3) Respond in a timely manner. – When a client contacts you, try to return their call or email within the same business day. The next business day is ok, but should be the latest you wait. And if you are waiting for some information before you return their call, give them a quick call or email to let them know. That way they know they’ve been heard and their question is being worked on, and not ignored.
4) Honestly try to see things from their perspective. – Allowing a stranger to come into your home, look at all of your stuff, touch it all, move it around, be told that it needs to go because it doesn’t fit in the room which to them sounds like “ugly”, and then receiving a bill for thousands to get new stuff picked out by someone else, can make for a stressful time for a customer. So when a customer is stressed, try to figure out why.
Why they don’t want to give up complete control (“It’s my house after all! I have to pay for this, live here, and look at this stuff for the rest of my life. You don’t. Plus I’m paying you. So why do you get to make all the decisions?”). Why they don’t think it’s necessary to update the lighting (“I just don’t see why it’s that important. The lights look fine in here and it’s so expensive. Plus my husband really doesn’t even want us to be doing this.”) Why they don’t want to get rid of those dime store tchotchkes (“This is the only thing that I have left from my mother. To me, they’re not ugly. They’re her in a tiny figurine.”)
Why they don’t want to pay for the quality items that you know are the right choice (“Before this I always had store bought furniture and it seemed fine. Why is this stuff so much more expensive?”) Why they’re so upset by a tiny little knick on the back of a lamp that must have occurred during installation and dang it you didn’t catch it (“This was a long and difficult process but I was so excited to see the perfection at the end. But then I started finding small dings and nicks and I just didn’t expect that for what I paid.”)
Taking a minute to think through what they must be thinking/feeling/worrying about allows you both to feel compassion for their situation and come up with creative solutions. Anger creates a creative mind block.
5) Take care of them the best way you know how. – Putting a so so effort into a job doesn’t feel good to anyone. You feel guilty. You feel anxious. You feel drained. You know you’re not doing your best. And so does the client. And you’re both irritated about it. So even if the client is a pain, or you’re barely making anything on the project, or you hate the pieces they insist you keep, do your absolute best with the situation at hand.
Deliver the Simple Values. And Deliver Them Every Time.
If you can do these 5 simple things every single time you work with a client, you won’t have to work so hard finding your next clients. Because it’s often the simplest of things that make a business really stand out. It’s not the lavish gifts at Christmas time, or being put up at a fancy hotel during installation, or being able to provide a selection of 10 different beverages during a design presentation. It’s delivering on the simple values above. Every single time.
If you’d like even more help thinking of simple ways to deliver spectacular client care, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how!