Spoiling Clients: “A Relationship Building Art Form” © by Rickey Bates
- Exceptional bonds with clients must be forged and nurtured continually by all contacts within the company. Once confidence and trust are initially earned, it hinges on every next job. Understanding this ensures the increasing odds of getting every next job, which may lead to even larger jobs with them and their clients, peers and associates.
- Building each client's confidence in you is a never ending journey traveled on the backs of each job. This means "Being There" for "Your Clients—Always"…and in bigger ways than they thought you ever could be. This is confirmed by every job they give you to do for them!! Clients are sensitive and ever-aware of how important they seem to be "To You" and your company.
- Keep the clients comfortable with this relationship. This is always gauged by them during and after each phone call. Great relationship building dialog is continually built stronger, or made weaker with every interaction. This is a critical key in preventing any sense in the client’s mind, of anyone in your company who may assume a posture of taking them for granted. If a client ever suspects this to be true; they can just as easily call someone else who’d be more than happy to “Show Them” and “Tell Them,” just how happy they are to have their business.
- Gather and know the costs of each job, including parts, equipment, manpower and labor time, and ensure profit margins are accurate allowing for a standardized cushion to prevent unforeseen mishaps which may create loss or cause a delay.
Assessing and Organizing Client Jobs, from “First Contact.”
- Always have a Production Schedule “Close-At-Hand.” Know the current and future work already scheduled or slated for production of any kind. This is the best tool and source to consider your response before making any commitment.
- Double-Check and call the client back before committing the additional work for the client to make sure that each word you give them will be doable and true. “Well-Run” companies frequently say, “Yes” to everything. This is only a bad practice when you are wrong. So, be sure by “Confirming All Details.” This includes all prep, start dates, operations, details, steps and costs; where advisements and confirmation is necessary and appropriate. This should be done with all vendor related contacts and in-house departments for each function and operation.
- Make a habit of being realistic and practical. This is essential to your company’s added layer of protection which ensures it’s good name and reputation in the industry. Be prepared when calling clients back to confirm all questions and exchanging all commitments and agreements covering point by point. Call them back once you’re sure that you can give them the “Good News” with confidence, reassuring them that “All will be slated to be handled for them as agreed.” This will be followed by their “Sigh of relief,” as you become once again, a “Trusted Hero and Valued Extension” of their company!!” Now stay close to that "Your Job" that backs up your word."
- Develop creative ways to keep this standard “Mindset,” It continually works well to ease any client anxieties about your ability, their schedule and yours, and helps them appreciate you. They'll realize the value of efforts and extents to which you went to...to slot their work into your company’s schedule--for them!! This thought remains long after they hang up the phone.
- After giving your commitment, do what you say, and do it better and more efficiently, completing the job sooner than expected, and call them back with that great news once the job wraps. On first-time, unique or difficult jobs posing challenges, your client may want to visit around the start of the job. Inform each department’s manager of the visit. Don't dread this process, just be prepared for this possibility, and you'll see this act alone, will do wonders to keep things on schedule.
Help Clients get work to you better and faster:
Not all clients are as organized as you. Some clients who tend to be chronically late; are frequently the same ones who want miracles to get their jobs done, regardless of “How Little Notice” they give you “To Do the Job.” Don’t be quick or too hasty to always say, “Yes” on any request. Your company strives to run“Back to Back Jobs,” involving “Quick Changeovers” on “Uniquely Modified Equipment requiring designated Steps to achieve each proper "Set-Up. ” If costs are increased by delaying or shifting work from preplanned schedules, these should be charged back to the appropriate client. Also, you may not want to call them back too early right away until the incurred additional costs are tallied.
- There is hope in dealing with clients who constantly press and close your required window of time allotments to do their jobs. The level of trust of your “Client-Company Relationship,” determines the ways and means you can help them.
- By helping them, you help yourself and your entire company--immensely, but make sure you do it with their interests “Front & Center” always!!
- Have you ever thought that the customers “Just Sit On Jobs,” which collect dust while waiting in their “Out-Box” for some details that may be insignificant to you? Some clients consistently overlook opportunities to give you a “Heads Up” about the “Up-Coming” work. It happens more than people think and there are countless reasons, and you’ll know none of them, because frankly; they are none of your business anyway--but they can all effect you and your company’s schedule.
- Another reason jobs are simply “Waiting in the Wings” is just “Simple Approval,” which may be nobody's fault. If you are smart, sharp and do your job well and professionally, you can make a good habit of finding creative ways to tactfully help with any issues or concerns while staying in touch with your clients. Take note of your own schedules around periods of time, when your clients jobs just happen to show up. Spotting those times is a trick to boost great change in any working relationship…and "It's Only" a mere thought and phone call away!!
- When clients get a surprise and timely call from you just to “Touch Base,” they may be in the throws of frantically rushing around to meet their normal deadline and your quickly shrinking window of opportunity to run their work through your company smoothly. Just hearing "What they are having to deal with," can “tip you off” about their situation, allowing time to advise team members, helping them and you adapt to and adjust to pending schedule demand changes in that will alter designated department production schedules. Keeping everyone "In the Loop," can never be "Over-Rated," or "Over-Emphasised!!"
- When all clients feel your company is just a phone call away from providing additional help or insight and collaboration, helping them tend to their interests; you’ll start getting more advanced notice on all jobs from most clients.
- When you make yourself available, offering to help them in times like these in a professional manner, they will appreciate your initiative and courtesy call. This offer to “Help Them” will be remembered, the next time a similar “Bump in the road” or “Hitch” happens to delay any adequate or advanced job notification times or dates.
- They will feel more comfortable giving you an “Early Heads Up” and may even tell you when they’ll be ready for you, and what must happen on their end, before you actually get the job.
- Your skill as an Analyst, Coordinator, Department Manager or Customer Service Representative, will be appreciated when focused on any concern which the client is comfortable in discussing with you...in advance.
- Back to the benefits of this close working relationship with your clients; They Love to get good news confirming a job is wrapped. Once it’s off their plate and mind, your prompt allows them to do the same thing alerting their own officers of the success. When this happens, you’ve just helped them, by getting a “Pat On The Back.”
- You and your company look good and they will too, when they send you a reply of thanks, and send their note or forward the an email you sent or one that states the same thing…about your work...to their boss. “Kudos-all Around” go to every player within such a “Great Cycle of Service,” within your ability and responsibility to help preserve, build and help control.
- Imagine the clout you’ll have gained them, with this consistent type of quality service? You don’t always “Have to Be Superman,” who “Saves the Day,” but neither did “Clark Kent.”
Conduct business like a "Genuinely Interested, and Concerned Friend."
This is a great way to be seen; in anyone's eyes. To work with someone like this, makes a job and work, seem more like fun, when both people are working hard to figure things out. The same holds true with any client relationship, without loosing a bit of professionalism. In fact…it enhances your credibility in the eyes of "Such Beholders."
- Don't just call to push a client, on anything, any time. They'd rather have your help, not the irritation of stating the obvious…that they are late. In fact, they'd rather you'd never called, but just sat and waited until they were ready. This is the first sign that they may start getting irritated…"By the Sound of Your Voice." Don't go here at all. Do the opposite: "Thank them for what ever they are trying to do…to get the job to you "As Soon As They can," and again, let them know that "You are in their Corner." Have you ever offered to pick the work up from them? Try it when they are ready of course. Costs like this may be eaten up front, charged back to them, or they may be simply be recovered by the time it saves the company on this job, or other staged work around other jobs. The client's normal reaction from such thoughtful service? That's easy…most of the time; it's "A BIG THANK YOU."
- Don't seek recognition from clients, since you are hopefully being paid well for the jobs you are being asked to do. The last thing a customer service or account representative should do, is “Come-off” like they are superficial or transparent, by asking for some “Pat On The Back.” This a complete turnoff to clients as well as peers and coworkers, but you can sure relieve the anxieties of a concerned client. This is the payoff that everybody seeks and deserves when the good work is done and jobs are “Wrapped,” and “Put to Bed.” Give yourself sufficient time and a bit more, to make sure you can do the job perfectly to prevent any surprises or last minute glitches.
KEEP TABS ON JOB PROGRESS: It's a basic ingredient to "Sweeter Running Jobs."
- Keeping Track of Progress Should Be Automatically Expected by Everyone, ANYTHING Less than this; allows a degree or two of lost control, and too often…it costs so much more!!
- A service industry standard is always assuming that you continually strive to keep all commitments, that you are always early, and that you do every job better than expected. There is no great mystery to great collaborations that yield greater success. It’s mostly courtesy compounded to the “nth degree,” whenever possible.
- Build on your own skill sets and ability for continuous improvements of each process. It can speed up the achievements of success beyond measure. Striving for this takes you well beyond the obvious “Daily Minimum of Requested & Required Services” for and on behalf of each client.
- Reviewing daily and notes and checking off all details on commitments and pursuing this work early, is just the normal part of so many more means and ways to serve them greater. People love working with people who enjoy working this way...with everyone. Doing it consistently without distinction is a balancing act. It more closely resembles "A Passion for Perfection Attitude" which grows, glows and multiplies as it spreads to include others in a similar light. Look for people like this, and gravitate towards them by becoming this type of person, and you'll realize how easy it is to spot them…most anywhere. Be like this, and you'll be the one others will normally seek out and find to work with "First," and "Always," when given half that chance.
Additional things to always question yourself and the job about:
"DETAILS & TIMELINES"
- Start tracking jobs better while keeping pertinent notes of any changes to the point of realizing that it's unnecessary. It will then become engrained within your very being, as being too important to ever overlook something of significants about any critical detail.
- Continue this efficient and effective method of practice, right along with all the other great habits you'll be more tuned to notice, develop a taste for, and acquire as you make them all "Your Own." This will make you and your company successful "Time After Time," on "Job After Job."
- Clarify and confirm all vague details or questions early and alway "Be Specific."
- Order anything needed “NOW” and allocate or arrange a back-up plan or extra spares when and where it may be needed.
- Get a commitment on all deliveries well in advance in writing or by email whenever possible, and stay on top of delivery dates.
- Start the jobs before each clients job early or at least on time, and try to finish each job early, including shut down, cleanup and change-overs.
- When details are clear review them all with appropriate leadership and even the people who’ll be doing the work at time (just to give them a heads-up too) before the job starts.
- Have a Quick Kick-off meeting before the job starts with all parties together or individually where necessary and appropriate.
- Review the job with all parties early, touching base with the people "Who will actually be doing the work." (Use discretion with this practice by going through all proper chains of command, to have these actions blessed and endorsed, to gain greater and more collaborative teams of players “On All Fronts!!”)
Leadership from Sales, the Coordinator and Supervisors should be there “On-Hand” when the job starts to work out any kinks to ensure it starts and runs perfectly.
This is a great aid to preparation, and keeping good people in the loop and adequately supported with any “Quick-Job, Kick-Off Meeting.”
Telling people you that you’d like them to call or contact you to alert you of any problem, confirms your willingness to respond to any issue. This confirms to them that you are interested in problems that other people may have to deal with, and they will do this with little chance of ever abusing this invitation you’ve so graciously offered.
This is in everyone’s best interest and there is no better assurance to inspire initiatives on everyone’s part...to make sure that “Your Job,” for “Your Client(s)” always run well. This manner of work also helps keep you informed of time frames, dates and the impending schedules, allowing great updates on your jobs for clients. The benefits of this will quickly roll-over to you, on all your other jobs too. This works for you, when you’re unable to be there “In-person” to watch your jobs run. Following up on each issue guarantees and unbridles limitations and helps embed even more success principles throughout each team member’s job and performance.
If you already do these things, then congratulations on being a “Pure Artist” at heart. You’ve mastered this skill of spoiling clients who look forward to
many more joint successes on all the next jobs they’ll bring to you...just a little bit earlier from now on. “Well done!!”