If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a million times: Repeat customers are revenue drivers. They are advocates for your business. They recommend you to friends and colleagues. They spend more long term – 40% more by their sixth purchase and up to 80% more by their 8th purchase. So naturally, you want to build the best relationship possible with them. There are many ways to build a relationship and encourage repeat business from a marketing perspective, but what about from the services side?
As a CRM consulting company, our long-term customer interactions happen at the services level, not the sales or marketing level. Our services team works directly with the clients to manage their project, address their concerns and turn their requests into results. These individuals are having weekly meetings and exchanging emails and phone calls directly with the customer and the customer’s entire team. So how can we build the best relationship with clients as they work with services? From our experience, these are the four best things you can do:
This one seems simple, but companies get it wrong all the time. When a problem occurs, the initial reaction is fear — fear that the client will be angry, that they will walk away, that they will demand a refund, fear they will judge the team to be ineffectual. These fears can cause service providers to hesitate, or even worse, hide the issue. This is the worst thing you can do. If you must deliver bad news, do it in a timely fashion. Explain the circumstances and the client’s options to resolve the issue. Your client will appreciate your honesty and sincerity much more because they will recognize the integrity of your response.
Listen to their concerns, apologize, and ask what you can do to make things right. If the client has a question you don’t know the answer to, it’s ok to say so, as long as you promise to find the answer for them as soon as possible.
If you don’t believe that honesty is the best policy, look at what happened to Apple in 2018. They refused to acknowledge that they were slowing down the older iPhones, so when customers found out they’d been lied to, they felt betrayed. The lack of transparency endangered their customer loyalty. Honesty and transparency are important to your customers. So important that, in a 2016 survey, 73% of respondents said they’d pay MORE from a product if the company was always truthful with its customers.
These days, the definition of respect has become a bit murky. We must constantly remind ourselves of the importance of this simple gesture, especially for customer service.
Look at the project from the client’s perspective. They know their business better than you do and they may have valid reasons for requests that you don’t understand. At the same time, remember that you know your business better than they do, so have patience. Their questions may seem obvious to you, but to them, it’s all new. We’ve all been in conversations where we encountered snarky, critical, or rude undertones from another participant. It’s extremely off-putting and bad business practice. Don’t be “that” person. Seek to understand, be patient and straightforward, and you will put your client’s mind at ease.
If you commit to perform a task, make sure you’ve thoroughly considered the timeframe necessary to complete what is being asked. While you never want to intentionally overestimate the cost, experience will tell us that complicated projects bring unforeseen circumstances. If there are a lot of question marks to the project timeline, it's better to overestimate and overdeliver than it is to underestimate and explain yourself later. Once timeframes are agreed upon, follow through with your commitment to those time frames and keep the customer in the loop on where the task stands.
Prove Your Worth
If your client had experience doing the task, they would not have hired you to do it for them. For the client, your service has innate worth, so don’t squander it. Go out there and delight them. Surprise them by going above and beyond to meet their needs and exceed their expectations. If you see your client struggling with something, reach out and offer your expertise, or direct them to a resource that can help.
Let your client know when a request is out of scope or outside the budget so there are no financial surprises later. If their request is a must-have, suggest options that provide the same result but may cost less to implement.
Stuck on a technical issue? Admit it. You’re a human being, after all. Get outside help if you need it, so you can avoid wasting time and money spinning your wheels. Prove to your client that their confidence in you is well founded by being a superhero at what you do.