Exceeding Clients’ Expectations
As important in today’s economy as ever: taking care of the clients that you have and retaining their business for the future. Now that companies are forced to be as fiscally conservative as they ever have, if service and follow up are not at an all time high, why wouldn’t they look for a more affordable solution to whatever good or service you might be providing?
I found this article on exceeding expectations that serves as a quick refresher on ways to do just that. We all need a gentle reminder of simple solutions to this all important requirement.
Four Ways to Exceed Clients’ Expectations
www.harvardbusiness.org, by: Steve DeMaio
When it comes to pleasing clients, there’s no substitute for high-quality work and a cooperative attitude. After all, that’s what you’re being paid for. But everyone knows that’s not the whole story.
Here are a few secrets to surpassing clients’ expectations that have worked for me:
1. Agree to a deadline you know you can beat. Clients nearly always appreciate when good work arrives before the due date, because it affords them flexibility. Plus, it shows that you are both efficient and customer-focused. Of course, you shouldn’t nudge clients to begrudgingly accept deadlines that don’t suit them just so that you can exceed expectations later. But the surprise of early delivery is more memorable than an up-front offer to beat a client’s proposed due date.
2. Be an astute questioner, not a silent sage. People often overestimate the value clients place on not being bothered while their work is with a contractor. In fact, asking pointed, proactive questions during the process demonstrates your genuine interest and focus. That doesn’t mean nickel-and-diming clients so that they suspect you have obsessive-compulsive disorder. But follow-up that proves you have foresight and a knack for process efficiency sends the reassuring message that while the work is in your hands, there’s no need to worry about it. Silence, in contrast, can generate unease. Besides, the occasional question is a pinprick compared with the laceration that a wholesale misinterpretation can later prove to be.
3. Be collegial. “Duh,” you’re probably thinking. “I’m obviously not going to be rude.” But collegiality is less about politeness than about your level of deference. Too much deference, which is what most contractors’ show, makes you seem merely like the hired help rather than a capable complement to the internal staff — and that doesn’t inspire confidence. Most clients would rather work with an equal (i.e., a colleague) than a lackey, especially if you’re providing expertise. That said: acting like a know-it-all obviously isn’t collegial either.
4. Offer constructive suggestions at the end. Every process can be improved, and who better to provide insights than someone who just went through it? If you focus solely on the merits, not on how you would benefit, your ideas for improvement won’t sound presumptuous or like complaints. A truly useful suggestion, offered in good faith and with great tact, is one that the client will want to implement, probably with you. Of course, making suggestions as an outsider is a delicate endeavor that requires appropriate circumstances and good social skills. But if you’ve got both on your side, the payoff can be big.