As our company has grown over the last few years, we have found ourselves engaging not only more service providers, but further more sophisticated ones.
As a person who defines their work as “being of service”, it has been interesting for me personally to be on the other side (for a change) of the service dynamic. Like a chef that walks into a restaurant, or a buyer that walks into a boutique, I find myself reflecting on these relationships (perhaps too much) and ultimately having expectations far beyond those of a typical customer. I mean, when you work passionately to serve, is it wrong to expect anything but the best?
The more I’ve reflected on my partners, the more I realize that what I appreciate as a customer is really just “basic” done right. It’s what I aspire to do consistently and improve upon every day for each one of my dear, dear client partners. It’s what anyone who serves should live by – regardless whether you charge $25 dollars per hour or $500.
No one has the right answer all the time. Sometimes we have to give answers that aren’t good to hear. Whatever the case, when someone is paying for your time or expertise, a quick response to any communication is foundational.
When it comes to money, respond even quicker
Any matters, questions, issues associated with services rendered, invoicing, budgets and contracting need to be addressed immediately. While long-term client relationships often develop into friendships, the fact that your client is choosing to spend their dollars with you should not only NEVER be overlooked, but further treated with the utmost respect and attention.
Go outside the scope… with value
Clients love it when they hear something new, something unexpected. Best case scenario you help them solve a big problem with your creativity, worst case scenario you look like you care. Bottom line, bring more value than what’s on paper. It pays dividends.
Be genuinely interested in the people you serve
We are people, not “accounts”. Good service providers know that to create long lasting client relationships it’s important to care about the person that you’re working with. Some clients will be more comfortable with this than others, but nonetheless try. Showing empathy, interest and connection builds trust. Whatever you do, be genuine. If you don’t like people or a person, you’re in the wrong place to begin with and it will show.
Your word is your bond
Whenever I am promised something by a certain date and I don’t get it, I wince at the thought of any time I have ever done the same to anyone of my customers. Not deliverying on a commitment is not only disrespectful but potentially harmful. (How do you know what commitments have been made based on your word?) If you’re unsure about your ability to make a certain date – play it safe and don’t give one.
And finally, last but certainly not least…
While you can follow all of the above principles, if you are not good at what you sell/do, you’re out of luck. Don’t take my word for it… the market and your competition will quickly let you know.