Recently, I worked with a newer colleague from our community on a special project. She did the work okay, but there were some aspects of her service and manner that were a little offputting from a client perspective.
I gave her some honest, constructive feedback that I think will help her improve, and felt this was information that others could benefit from as well. Read on…
- When consulting with new clients, be sure to let them finish their sentences. Allow them to finish their complete thoughts before interrupting with your own questions or input. You want to do more listening than speaking in the first part of the consultation when you are doing your information gathering. It’s very offputting and annoying to not be able to finish a sentence.
- It’s okay to ask lots of clarifying questions. If you don’t feel you understand completely what the client is asking, be sure to ask. Paraphrasing back to the client is a great way to make sure you are on the same page with regard to instructions and preferences.
- It’s also okay to ask questions as they arise. Sometimes you don’t realize you have a question until it comes up in the process of working on a project, so by all means ask for clarification or further instructions along the way. That will go a long way in helping meet client expectations and satisfaction.
- If you get stuck on something or find out that you can’t do something after all, don’t waste a client’s time by proceeding without permission. It’s okay if you don’t know something, or need to do further research. But do check in with the client. Let them know there’s something you are stuck on, or don’t know how to do or whatever the case may be. Find out what is important to them and ask them to advise you as to how they’d like you to proceed.
- Make sure you are under-promising and over-delivering rather than over-promising and falling short. This includes timeframes. If you say you can get something done by a certain date, and then continuously ask for more time, that is very off-putting to clients regardless of whether they can extend the deadline or not. What that tells them is that you haven’t given yourself enough space to get the work done and more importantly, that they can’t really depend on your word. They won’t be confident in the future of any delivery dates you give them based on an experience like that. Expectations are far easier to manage if you set them properly at the beginning. If you fail to deliver according to whatever you’ve stated, that will reflect poorly on you and clients won’t be as happy or satisfied. It’s a trust killer.
- By all means, collect client testimonials whenever you can. You should be asking project clients and retained clients for both feedback and testimonials (if they are happy) after the successful completion of projects and at least every six months for retainer clients. I underscore the word “after” because there is some etiquette involved when asking for testimonials also. You want to ask for testimonials, but you don’t want to ask prematurely. It’s very inappropriate to ask in the middle of a project. Don’t ask the second you complete a project either, as that comes across as being a little too pushy and indelicate, as if you’re more interested in getting the testimonial and forcing the request than making sure the customer is happy. You want to give the client time to make sure they are satisfied with the work first and that everything works properly. My rule of thumb is one week after successful completion of the project and client sign-off. And make sure you don’t ask for a testimonial until you’ve first asked whether the client is even happy or not.