By Wendy Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRW
What exactly does “Owning The Customer Relationship” mean? Simply put, it means that your customers are YOUR customers and they’re not going anywhere else. Whether deliberately or not, you’ve managed to build rapport, establish trust and capture that client. You now “OWN” that relationship and it’s yours to keep forever. Here’s how you can achieve that:
- You consistently, unfaltering, dependably and intensely professionally provide quality services to your clients. No matter your area of specialization - coaching, counseling, recruitment, outplacement, placement or resume writing - the services you provide are consistently top-flight. There are no exceptions. You are committed to your business/organization and your clients.
- You position yourself as a single-source provider to your clients and become their #1 job search resource. They know that you will always have the answer or you’ll find it. Your clients can trust in the fact that they need not look any further. You’re there to support them in whatever they may need to advance their search and their career.
- You write and send client newsletters to maintain constant communication. You inform them of new information that may impact their job search or career, you notify them of new resources and you share new knowledge. And, while you’re communicating with them, why not use your newsletter for its real purpose - a marketing tool to promote you and your organization.
- You maintain visibility within the market. You write articles, give speeches, appear on local radio and television broadcasts, and attend area business meetings. People either know you or know of you. They know about your services and they know your reputation. You are a part of the community that you serve - no matter how small or how large.
Customer Service Is More Than Delivering Service
Sometimes we’re so involved in delivering our services that “business administration” may drift to the back burner. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! Remind yourself of the little things that are so very critical to establishing and maintaining your reputation.
- Answer each and every email message. I’m not referring to junk mail that you receive, but to every other piece of correspondence. Even if your message is a simple, “Got your note and will respond within 48 hours” or “Thanks for the kind words,” at least you are acknowledging the email and the person. Remember, the combination of good etiquette and immediate client response is a powerful tool!
- Answer each and every voice mail message the day you receive it, if at all possible. Even if all you do is call your client back to tell him that you’re overwhelmed today and can’t speak with him until tomorrow or the next day, you’re acknowledging that you got the message and that the CLIENT IS IMPORTANT.
- Acknowledge your “big spenders.” Ever have clients who just continue to spend money with you? First they want a resume, then they want coaching, then they want a direct mail campaign … it goes on and on. The respect that you will get with a handwritten thank-you note is worth thousands of dollars in advertising. Even better, consider a small, but nice gift at the holiday season.
- Always deliver on time. There are virtually no excuses for not delivering a client project on time. None! If you have committed to Wednesday at 2 pm, then the project MUST be done by that time, barring an unforeseen near catastrophe. And, a heavy workload is NOT a near catastrophe! If you begin to develop a reputation for quality work - but work that is consistently late - you might as well close your doors.
- Always be on time. If you have a client appointment scheduled for 11 am, be there and be ready. How many times have you sat in an office waiting for a doctor? With each passing moment, you became more annoyed. Is that how you want your clients to feel?
- The client is ALWAYS right. Your client has hired you to do a job for him. You can share your insights, make your recommendations, offer factual proof of what works and what doesn’t, but ultimately it is the client’s decision as to how to proceed. You can only do what’s “right” if the client allows you.
These items barely scratch the surface of what’s involved in managing a quality-driven service business. If you are up to the challenge and able to establish a reputation for consistently superior service, you’ll reap the benefits:
- Your name will become synonymous with high-quality service and excellence.
- You can gradually increase your prices (and your profits) to keep pace with the demand.
- You’ll position yourself as a leader within our industry and a mentor to your colleagues.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of all will be the constant stream of referrals you will receive. Happy clients refer other clients who then refer others. If you are diligent, determined and consistent, your business and client base will grow without having to invest big bucks in advertising and marketing. Your clients will sell for you. All you’ll need to do is continue to provide the same level of expertise that has gotten you this far.