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Your business relies heavily on effective relationships with your clients. Harboring mutually beneficial relationships helps develop trust with clients that can lead to years of service, not to mention recurring revenue. Put simply, you need great relationships to be successful.
With that said, here are five things you should avoid doing to continue cultivating an effective business and to keep working with trusting clients.
1. Being a jerk
The first thing you shouldn’t do is be a jerk. Hopefully that’s obvious. If you’re rude to clients, won’t answer their phone calls, or speak to them in condescending tones, they’ll start thinking about who else they can hire. It’s easy to get frustrated with people who don’t understand technology the way you do, but it’s not their fault. Their job isn’t to understand technology perfectly, it’s yours. They rely on technology to do their jobs, but what they do is something completely different and they hired you because they don’t want to deal with IT issues on their own. Be kind to the people giving you work, and calmly help them understand things. You’re the pro and they need to be able to trust you.
2. Pushing Services Clients Don’t Need
Don’t be pushy when it comes to your service offering. Obviously you’ve got to pay the bills, but when you slip on your salesman hat, keep in mind that a client only wants to pay for what they need. Explain to them what you’ve got to offer, but don’t try to push them into getting things they probably won’t benefit from having. They can easily end up signing up for many different things they might not understand, which can lead to a much higher bill than they’re expecting. If they think they’re overpaying for monthly services they might start searching for less expensive alternatives. Be transparent in your offering, be realistic about client needs, and focus on what they ought to have, not just what you can make the most money from selling. Through transparency, you establish trust. Once a client trusts you, they’ll be much more likely to add on services you suggest to them down the road.
3. Nickel and Diming
If you’ve ever subscribed to a satellite television service, you’ll know what I mean. The price on the company’s website might be $49.99 so a consumer thinks, “Great, fifty bucks a month and I’m good to go.” It’s easy, right? Never! In addition to your monthly charge, you’ve got to pay for the equipment rental, premium channels, and upgrade packages, plus, if you’re a new customer, there’s probably a setup fee, installation fee, new customer fee, state tax, federal tax, satellite tax, bandwidth tax, and carbon offset tax (I may have made up the last few).
Your business needs to be profitable and obviously there are things you need to charge for in order to make money, but when it comes to little things, you don’t need to shake down your clients just because you had to do a little bit of extra work. Little extras are what make great customer service, and your willingness to go the extra mile will put you streets ahead of competitors. Charging clients for every single little task you have to accomplish will put them off and could have them searching for another organization to work with.
4. Loving and leaving
Once you’ve got a new client and you’ve taken care of things like infrastructure inventories and you’ve got everything running smoothly and at your command, it’s easy to forget about them and let them send you a check each month. While professional services automation (PSA) and remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools make it simple to monitor the basic needs like backup and anti-virus remotely, you still shouldn’t love them and leave them. Clients don’t always know what’s going on in the background, so it’s important for you to communicate with them. Make sure you call in to check and see that everything is going well and ask if they need a hand with anything or if they’re satisfied with the way everything is running. This will show that you’re eager to help out and that you’re on top of their needs at all times. If they rarely hear or see from you, they might not see the value in many of the services they’re paying for.
5. Making Excuses
Everybody gets busy, but that can’t be your excuse. Your clients probably rely most heavily on two things: employees and computer equipment. When employees show up but equipment starts having trouble, they need you to get things back on track quickly. Being “too busy” is not a legitimate reason for not being there in their time of need. If a client needs you right away, it’s time to prove your dependability by showing up and taking care of what needs to be done. Even if you’ve got other things going on it’s important to find a way to help them out. If you’re always there when they need you, their trust in you will grow.
Also worth noting is that in order to be there in their time of need, you’ve got to have your own backup and disaster recovery plans in place. That way if there’s an emergency, you can attend to client’s needs instead of spending all your time attending to your own issues. With a thoroughly tested plan, you’ll have your operation running in no time and you’ll be ready to handle any client needs.
Photo Credit: timsamoff via Compfight cc
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