Archive for the ‘Client Love’ Category

Saying Thank You

One of the things I love about etsy are the clever, inventive ways the vendors come up with in saying thank you. This is obviously something that is cultivated as part of the etsy culture. From beautiful uses of natural materials to creative packaging to (like today) an adorable little bundle of extra beads with “Thank you” attached.

Sure, some may think it’s “just” a thank you, but that stuff is not lost on clients and customers. It’s delightful and memorable and there is obvious effort and style involved, which is what makes it more meaningful.

This kind of effort can make even more of an impact on the clients of services (where our “product” is a service which is basically invisible). I am not a fan of automating “thank you’s.” I detest it, in fact. Because the message is, you are not worth me putting myself out enough to make an effort. And it’s the personal attention and effort that is the secret sauce and makes the meaning.

What clever, creative, inventive ways can you dream up and instititute as part of your brand culture to say “thank you” to your clients for their (continued) business?

Dear Danielle: Should I Turn Work Away?

Dear Danielle:

I’ve learned a lot from you in regards to Value Based Pricing by purchasing your system. Love it! The only question I have is, do you turn away any admin work that doesn’t fit into your packages? I sometimes have clients ask me to help out with a quick spreadsheet or troubleshoot why a login isn’t working etc. Do you have any tips on how this translates in value based pricing? –MD

Thanks for the great question! I’ll do my best to help.

Quick answer: It depends. But let’s examine why and where you may be wanting to take your business.

Personally, at my stage in business, yes, I typically do turn away small ad-hoc project work if that’s what you are referring to. It’s just not worth my time or attention. I make enough from my retainer clients that I don’t need to bother with penny ante stuff like that. And I have more time to devote to my retained clients and more time for my own life because of it.

This is something you begin to realize once you decide that you want to start earning better in your business. Lots of people think they need to take anything they can get, everything that comes their way. And that’s certainly their perogative. If someone is starving and they need to put food on the table, yeah, you’re going to take that work, and any work you can get.

However, continuing to operate in that mode will keep you in the position of what essentially amounts to picking pennies up off the ground. You’ll never create a better, more well-earning business that way. And project work like that will keep you from building a more leisurely paced business–and life. You’ll forever be on a hamster wheel in a business like that.

Getting to a place of higher earning requires intention about the kinds of work and clients you take on. It means saying “no” to certain work in order to focus on getting the kind of work and clients that actually lead you from a hand-to-mouth (or hamster wheel) existence to one where you are earning and profitting well and, in turn, creating the life you want for yourself.

Now, you use the word “clients” rather than prospects so I’m not sure if you meant people who are already retained clients or if you actually meant just random people (prospective clients) who don’t want to retain you, but just want little one-off things.

If it’s retained clients you meant, and they were asking for something outside the scope of their support plan, again it depends. For retained clients, I give the best of my time and attention. If they have a quick, little one-off thing that falls outside the scope of their support plan, a lot of times I will knock that out for them just as a bit of client love. Their long-term business and relationship is more financially profitable for me than a few extra bucks. However, if a pattern begins to emerge (which I will notice in my six-month review of their account) that they really do need ongoing support in a particular area, that’s when we have a conversation about adding that support area onto their plan (and the price goes up accordingly).

But, yes, if it’s just a random person who has found my site and just wants a little project, I turn those away. Just not worth the distraction or my time and effort. One of the reasons I’ve been able to build the practice I have today is by saying “no” to things like that.

If you want to build a retainer based and more well-earning business, you have to say no to any client or work that isn’t in alignment with that goal. I realize there may be a balancing act some folks need to do when they are first starting their business. The caution (and where folks get caught up on) is that if all you ever do is taken on penny-ante project work, it will keep you from building the business that you’d rather have. It just eats up all your time and attention.

I know some people like to say, “But those little projects could turn into retained clients if they like my work.” Again, that’s not building a business based on intention. That’s trying to grow a business based on hope. Doesn’t work. And there’s a better way.

I’m sure you’ve heard me repeat the adage, “You will never get what you don’t ask for.” And this is exactly what this means. If you don’t ask for and expect a commitment from clients, you will never get one. If you don’t ask for exactly the kind of clients and relationship that you prefer to have in your business, you will never get them.

The tail will forever be wagging the dog (the business and clients running you and not serving your needs) and you will never build the business you want unless you ask for it. That means not accepting just any ol’ work and clients. It means telling clients exactly how you work with them (e.g., by monthly retainer) and then only accepting those clients who are ready to work like that. You gotta stop wasting time on everyone else. It’s just delaying and distracting you.

And contrary to all the advice you hear out there on this, I do not recommend you take on a small project so clients can “get a taste of what it’s like to work with you.” Would you go to a home builder and ask them to “just build me this little thing here so I can get an idea of what it’s like to work with you?” They wouldn’t do it (and they’d probably laugh behind your back). It’s just not worth their time to deal with dabblers. And you can’t make it worth your time either or you’ll be doing that the rest of your life.

Focus on the people who are ready to work with you. There are far better ways to allow prospective clients to “sample” you without you being distracted or wasting your one-on-one time. Heck, your entire website should be a “sampling” and demonstration of you and your skills, knowledge and expertise.

I want you to refer back to the Administrative Consultant business model blueprint you received with the Value-Based Pricing Toolkit. This outlines exactly how you can offer them “samples” without letting the “nibblers” take you away from your focus.

Let me know if that helps. 🙂

Dear Danielle: What Kind of Gifts Should I Get Clients for the Holidays?

Dear Danielle,

What kind of gifts do you get for clients? I know this is last minute, but I’m really stuck; my clients are new, and this is my first Christmas working with them. Any ideas would be welcomed!  —Donnamarie Needle, Time Saving Concepts

Great question with Christmas fast approaching! Whatever holiday you or your clients celebrate around the holidays, this is a great time of year to let them know how much you appreciate them. Here are some of my suggestions:

1. Get gifts that they personally will enjoy. As we get to know our clients, we tend to become more familiar with their personal lives and tastes. For example, one of my clients has recently gotten really into juicing. He loves it, but doesn’t have any juice “recipes” and has mentioned several times how he just grins and bears the taste because he knows how healthy and worthwhile it is. Knowing this, I decided to get him a beautiful juice “recipe” book so he can make all kinds of healthy concoctions that taste great as well.

I’m always jotting down clues to my clients’ tastes on their Client Profile Sheet throughout the year so when gift time comes around, I’ve always got ideas at the ready. (I know your clients are new so this advice might be more apt for next year after you’ve had time to get to know them personally a bit more.)

2. Give an experience. I’ve always preferred to give an experience rather than “stuff” whenever possible. People always remember experiences (and those who gave them those experiences) way more than things (that often end up at the Goodwill or otherwise being regifted if not chosen with love and thought).

The bigger the client relationship, the bigger the experience should be (e.g., retainer clients vs. one-time or occasional project clients). Remember, they’ve invested a lot in you and your service so give the kind of gift that is proportionate to that (or said a bit more bluntly–don’t be chintzy lol). Some ideas: special seats to the theater or sporting event. Membership to a museum, club or zoo. Dinner for two at a swanky or exotic new restaurant. A day at the spa or a book of massage certificates. With all the things to do in the world, the list is endless! The more you know your clients, the more you’ll be able to give just the right experience for each.

3. Buy your clients’ products or services to give to others. Years ago I used to work with the local retail market which included restaurants and clubs, hair salons and gift shops. I would often buy items or gift certificates from one client’s business to give to my other clients. I really loved supporting my clients’ businesses this way! Perhaps you have clients who aren’t necessarly in the retail market and in professional services instead? What kind of services, training or products do they offer that you could buy for other clients that will help them in their business and they’ll truly value?

4. Shy away from food gifts. You might be sabotaging someone’s diet or not know of their food allergies. If you do decide to give a food gift (the ol’ box of chocolates for example), at least make it uncommon. I absolutely adore giving chocolates from Christopher Elbow as each piece is little work of art. Every client I have ever given a box to has positively raved.

Another example: One year I was really into French food so for all my project clients, I made up little gift bags with an ink stamp of the Eiffel tower on them. Inside I added a package of my favorite Crepe batter mix, a wooden crepe rake and three recipe cards for both sweet and savory crepes. The clients I gave these to were delighted! And remember that creativity doesn’t need to cost a fortune–it cost me less than $10 each to put these crepe gift bags together.

One other thing I think bears mentioning is to refrain from giving your company s.w.a.g. (e.g., calendars, pens and other promo items with your company name and biz info printed on them). This is the tackiest! It’s so impersonal and self-serving, I can’t think of a worse kind of gift to give or receive. The holidays are a time to share your heart! Think of what the client might truly like and enjoy–not what will help promote your company (which actually will have the opposite effect if you give gifts like that).

How about you? What kind of gift ideas do you have to share? Please post in the comments!

How to Luv Up Your Clients this Valentine’s Day

How to Luv Up Your Clients this Valentine's Day

So often in business we focus on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas to give out extra helpings of gratitude to our clients. I happen to think Valentine’s Day is for sweethearts of all kind—including our clients. So let’s take a moment today to let them know just how much we appreciate them.

1. Say thank you. Take the opportunity today to tell your clients how much you love and appreciate them and what an honor and privilege it is supporting them and helping them move forward. An email is fine, but a phone call or card is really the perfect touch.

2. Dole out the atta boys/girls freely. Everyone appreciates a pat on the back. Tell your clients what qualities you admire most about them and the work they are doing in their business and the world. Describe to them all the reasons why they are so wonderful to work with.

3. Give a little gift. I can’t think of a single person on earth who doesn’t delight in receiving an unexpected present. Whether it’s flowers, chocolates or a little trinket you know a client will like, you really can’t go wrong here. One caution: Save the business branded SWAG for business occasions. No one feels special about something you bought in bulk to promote your business. Your gift to a client should be about them, not you. Choose something that shows you spent some time and consideration thinking about what they might like. THAT is what makes it special and meaningful.

4. Sing their praises. Be an advocate for your clients’ businesses. Love and appreciation are wonderful things, but practical referrals can mean new business and more money for your clients. Post a review. Rate their website. Send an email to your contacts introducing them to your client’s business. These are just some of small gestures that can have real, tangible impact for your clients.

5. Share your resources. What or who do you know that your clients might appreciate? Is there some free advice or consulting you can give them related to a goal or objective they are currently interested in? Give them the inside scoop as a little way of saying, “Thank you, you’ve helped my business by being my client and here’s a little something I’d like to give back to you.”

6. Reward your existing clients. Everyone is always giving discounts and freebies to prospects. But why? What did they do to earn anything? That’s just bribery. Instead, how about rewarding your ACTUAL clients… you know, the ones who actually work with you, pay you and stick by you. You wouldn’t have a business without them. You could threw in some extra work you don’t worry about billing for. Or get them to tell you what the one goal or nagging to-do item is that just keeps getting pushed to the back-burner. Then help them get ‘er done once and for all at no charge. Making their life easier is a wonderful–and memorable– way to show you care about them and their lives and making things better for them, not just getting paid.

7. Host a client social. Whether online or in-person, this is a fun way to get together with clients, introduce them to each other and express thanks to all of them for being clients. You could pick up the tab for dinner or lunch, and in the case of an online event, organize one or two fun games.

8. Brush up on your clients. When is the last time you updated your client info sheet? Spend some time brushing up on what you know about each client. Add those personal tidbits of info you have come to learn about each client personally. The more you get to know each client as a person, the deeper you can nurture the relationship. And don’t forget to share things about yourself as well.

9. Put your money where your mouth is. I don’t just work with my clients. I have frequently purchased their services and/or products for myself or to give as gifts to my other clients. Appreciating your clients like this is a great way to pay it forward.

10. Contribute to their conversations. Post comments on your clients’ blogs and social networking posts. Retweet their tweets. Friend them on Facebook. Give feedback they can use in their products and testimonials. Everyone appreciates these kinds of contributions that help spread their word and build their reputation. And contributing in this way helps them generate the discussions they are hoping to cultivate on these platforms.

Why Would I Work with an Administrative Consultant?

As a business owner, you might be asking yourself, “Why would I pay someone else to do administrative work I can do myself? It seems like it would be easier and cheaper to do it myself.”

The operative word here is “seems.”

Because in all honesty, trying to do everything yourself actually exacts a heavy cost in your business, far more than you realize.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

So, let me tell you why you would want to work with an Administrative Consultant.

  1. To conserve energy. You waste vital energy by trying to do everything yourself in your business. Energy is a finite commodity that comes at a premium when you are running a business. If you spend it all on back-end work, it will deplete the reserves you have for creativity, brainstorming, marketing, developing your business and working with clients.
  2. To create more time. You have better things to do with your time as a business owner than trying to take care of your own administrative work. When you allow an Administrative Consultant to shoulder some of the burden, you can double–even triple–the time you have at your disposal for more important things, such as working with clients, marketing and networking, creating new products and services, or taking time off to recharge.
  3. To stay focused. Trying to take care of every detail yourself in your business will keep you distracted and overwhelmed. Don’t do that. Hire key partners–such as an Administrative Consultant–to help shoulder the load so you can keep your eyes and mind on your goals.
  4. To make faster progress. You can’t be a master of all things. Not to mention the fact that if you don’t excel at certain work, it will be harder and take you longer to accomplish. You will get so much more done, far more quickly, working with an Administrative Consultant than you would trying to do it all by yourself.
  5. To make your life easier. Trying to juggle every single ball in your business all by yourself will stress you out and burn you out. Guaranteed. Working with an Administrative Consultant will cut that stress out and make your life much more peaceful.
  6. To double your resources. Two brains are better than one. When you partner with an Administrative Consultant, all of that expert’s knowledge, expertise and resources are lent to your business. You create a smarter, stronger business foundation as a result.
  7. To make more money. When you have more time, energy and focus to devote to working with clients, marketing and developing your business, you will make more money. It’s as simple as that.

The bottom-line is that you squander more than you save by trying to do it all yourself.

What you gain in time, energy, ease and progress will always be greater than any fees you pay for a competent, expert Administrative Consultant.

What Do You Love About Your Favorite Client?

What is it about your favorite client that makes him or her your favorite?

My favorite client is easy to work and get along with.

He’s been my willing guinea pig whenever I want to try something new (because he knows his business will end up benefiting in the long run).

He’s funny and easy-going.

He responds quickly to all my emails and never keeps me waiting or guessing.

We have great brainstorming sessions and he readily asks for and takes my advice.

I feel respected as a professional and the administrative expert in our relationship.

We’ve had some ouches along the way, like when he had to pay more money to keep working with me.

In the end, though he might grumble a little at first, he always realizes he makes more money, and his life and business are a lot easier, because of my support and expertise.

We make a great team.

How about you? What makes working with your favorite client a joy?

Are You Dripping with Friends?

The term “drip marketing” comes from the direct mail industry.

Studies indicate it takes at least 7 to 10 points of contact before a prospect even remembers a business, much less buys from it.

So, the idea is to mail a series of printed promotional pieces (drip) to current and potential customers, and thereby keep the company in front of their eyeballs long enough to establish brand awareness and develop them into leads.

That sure doesn’t sound very warm and fuzzy, though, does it? In fact, it sounds pretty impersonal and a little too cold and calculating.

People want to be cared about.

They want to connect with other human beings, not be a cog in someone’s marketing machinations.

That said, you’re still a business. You have to somehow find a way to get in front of your would-be clients or customers. Marketing is a necessary evil.

But guess what? It doesn’t have to be evil. Let me tell you how you can create authentic drip campaigns driven by heart (you might even be doing one of these already):

  1. First, shift your perception. Instead of “marketing,” look at these efforts simply as a way to make new friends (prospective clients/customers), help those you are already friends with (past and current clients/customers) and continue to nurture and solidify those relationships. People do business with and refer those they get to know, like and trust. So what you’re really doing in all your reaching-out efforts is simply allowing people to get to know the real you and leaving a door open for them to enter a little further.
  2. One way you can do this is to publish an ezine for your target market. An ezine (electronic newsletter) is a form of drip marketing because it allows you to keep a line of conversation going with your audience on a regular basis. It’s a heck of lot cheaper and easier to publish than a print newsletter, and there’s a much greater return for the effort. The keys to a successful ezine are:

    a) make it about your target market (what do they want to read about? What are their challenges and obstacles? What advice, tips and solutions will be of value and interest to them? How can you make it fun?), and
    b) publish regularly—weekly, every other week or at least once a month. You know you’re doing something right when readers email you when an issue is missing or late!

  3. Publish a blog. Like an ezine, frequency is key. It doesn’t have to be on the same kind of schedule as an ezine, but you should post regularly to maintain a momentum of interest. Posting twice a year just isn’t going to cut it. If you do blog, you can be more personal and less formal, the content less structured. It’s another avenue for allowing prospective clients/customers to connect with you as a person, which makes you much more relatable and approachable.
  4. Offer a free e-course via a series of autoresponders. Say you have some sort of how-to guide that you’ve been offering as a single download. Divide each step/section/bullet into separate messages to be sent out one at a time each week. If you have 10 messages, that’s 10 weeks you can be helping those on your list and keeping in touch with them. Encourage questions and feedback, which will help you better understand their needs and challenges and develop further useful content and information for them.
  5. Continue to consistently keep in touch with your list subscribers. Send out a message whenever you come across news and information you think will be helpful to your target market. Send a message linking to an article you think is of interest to them. Tell them about happenings or products you recommend. Let them know whenever you have a special event or offering for them. Periodically spotlight one of your skills or services they might not be aware of and how it might help them in their business. Make a list of all the reasons you could contact those on your list. The possibilities are endless. Continue to add to it as you come up with ideas. There’s nothing wrong with letting folks know what you do and what you have to offer them. Just try to strike a balance. Remember that the point is to be helpful, not spam them with constant marketing and self-interested promotion. The simple act of being a helpful, knowledgeable resource for them promotes you in all the best ways possible.

All of this is about creating rapport and trust. When you show people who you are and what you are passionate about, you instill rapport. When you demonstrate that you understand their business problems, needs and interests, you demonstrate your competence and authority and show that they can trust you. Nothing evil about that! It’s simple consideration. Commit to more of that.

RESOURCE: Aweber is the most versatile autoresponder service out there in my book. Not only can you use it to deliver your ezine, it can be used for all kinds of other purposes including capturing subscribers, managing unlimited lists, communicating with those lists (separately or together) via sequential and scheduled broadcasts, setting up automated message campaigns, distributing blog post notifications and even incorporating those messages with social media. The reporting features are phenomenal and it integrates nicely with shoppingcart systems. Its double opt-in policy makes it one of the very top rated services for email delivery and open rates.

Communication Is Key

Great administrators love helping their clients.

They put smart systems, policies and standards in place because they know that ultimately these things allow them to deliver greater service to their clients.

They also know that excellent communication is absolutely key to the relationship.

While there are lots of things Administrative Consultants do to facilitate great communication flows, it’s also a two-way street.

Following are some things you can do as the client to help your Administrative Consultant help you.

1. Clearly communicate your goals and objectives. Your Administrative Consultant wants to know why you do what you do and where you’re ultimately wanting to go. She can then be more proactively involved in helping you achieve those things.

2. Provide the big picture. An Administrative Consultants support is limited if you only give her or him a piecemeal understanding of things. Let your Administrative Consultant know how the task or project fits into the whole. She can then make sure all the pieces fit together even better and often will have suggestions you might never have thought of. Two heads are always better than one!

3. Place a priority on meetings. Administrative Consultants who offer telephone meetings to their clients do so as a benefit to them. They know that meeting regularly to talk nurtures the collaborative process and keeps both of you in sync. Your work and goals can only be as important to your Administrative Consultant as they are to you. If you don’t make the relationship a priority, you may find yourself looking for a new Administrative Consultant.

4. Organize your thoughts. The more “stuff” an Administrative Consultant has to wade through, the more likelihood there is for simple human error and having some things fall through the cracks. You can help your Administrative Consultant when emailing work requests by keeping messages limited to one idea, one project or task, at a time, and providing a clear and descriptive subject line.

5. Too much detail is better than too little. Don’t assume your Administrative Consultant can read your mind. We’re good, but none of us is superhuman! It’s better to be overly forthcoming with details, especially when you first begin working together. A confident Administrative Consultant is not going to be defensive. She/he will appreciate your effort to be thorough in providing everything needed to do a great job.

RESOURCE: Administrative Consultants are administrative experts who very much appreciate business owners who extend them the same professional courtesy and respect they give to clients. If you want to be a great client, make sure you understand and honor how Administrative Consultants want to be treated: Working With an Administrative Consultant.

© Copyright by Danielle Keister for the Administrative Consultants Association. You are granted permission to republish this article only if used without alteration in its entirety with this copyright notice, title, article content, resource, and links left intact.

Dear Danielle: Do You Subcontract Your Work to Others?

A prospective client recently contacted me and asked a good question. Here’s how I responded:

Dear Danielle:

If we work together, will you be outsourcing any of my work? Do you subcontract to other Administrative Consultants? —LA

Just as clients shouldn’t be doing everything themselves in their business, neither should Administrative Consultants. We are business owners/solopreneurs just as our clients are.

However, I know why you are asking.

There is a trend lately where a certain segment of people (often those with no experience or expertise themselves) starting businesses in our industry where all they are doing is farming the work out to third parties.

That is not administrative support. It’s an attempt to exploit an industry and mine it for whatever money they can get any way they can.

That is most definitely NOT what we as Administrative Consultants are in business to do.

There’s no personal one-on-one dynamic involved in working like that, which is precisely what defines ongoing administrative support: that deeply collaborative, personal relationship.

There are all kinds of pitfalls when working with a company that treats the work transactionally like that. I hear about them all the time from clients and from colleagues who are being farmed out or taking on subcontracted work.

The chief complaints I hear are that clients don’t like having their work sent out to people they don’t know. (If they wanted to hire someone else, they would have done that in the first place).

They frequently complain of problems with consistency in service and poor work quality in these arrangements as well.

And for the colleagues working for these companies, they simply don’t make much money and often have to deal with issues of late or non-payment.

It sounds like you have encountered your own negative experiences with that type of arrangement as well.

My business model is not one where I do the marketing and then spread out and rely on non-employees to do the work.

I am the craftsman in my business. When clients hire me, it’s my brain and my skills and my expertise they get.

That said, I do have my own small panel of long-time support administrators who help me in my business.

I have this help not only so that I can create the same kind of smooth-running business and life of freedom that clients are seeking to create themselves, but also, ultimately, because it allows me to provide my clients with vastly superior support and attention.

It does my neither me nor my clients any good whatsoever if I’m frazzled, overworked and spread too thin from trying to do everything all by myself.

But here’s the difference:

My relationship with clients is never outsourced.

When clients hire me, it’s me they work with directly.

Mainly, my panel of support help me with things related to the running of my business.

There are also some instances when I might delegate certain tasks or non-critical, non-confidential, non-sensitive parts of my work. However, my responsibility and control over the proper completion, quality and accuracy of the work is never abdicated or outsourced.

I don’t farm out or subcontract anything to any stable of third parties I may or may not know well (which is what happens in those subcontracting farms, often to other countries that are rife with identify thieves and credit card hackers).

I only work with my small, consistent, long-time support administrators who are colleagues I’ve known and worked with for many years.

In answer to your question, No (emphatically), I never subcontract your work. Your business, information and trust is too important to me to ever betray that.

What I do have is my own Administrative Consultant whom I monthly retainer for a body of support in the same way you retain me. Huge difference.

If there’s something additionally a client needs that is outside the scope of administrative support (e.g., they need a bookkeeper or a web designer, etc.), I can refer them or help them find the proper professional whom they can hire directly.

If a one-on-one partnering solution is what you are seeking, there is no place for a middleman in the equation.

How to Follow Your Own Act

One of the attorneys I’ve worked with over the years is a wonderful fellow.

Family man. Very personable. Knows his stuff. Gets done what he’s hired to get done. A real credit to his profession.

So what was always so disconcerting after he’d finish a matter for me was this utterly abrupt end to our communication.

And I mean A-brupt. Every time.

It’s crazy, because whenever I’d contact him again on something new, we’d pick up as if we’d just spoken yesterday.

Yet, at the end of each project, I couldn’t help feel as if I’d done something wrong.

Was I a horrible client? I don’t tend to think so because being an independent service provider myself, I’m always very conscious about how I treat other service professionals.

I know what I don’t care for in clients and I make sure I am the kind of client I would want for myself.

I clearly communicated my needs, made sure I understood what to expect and I always paid on time (and as you know, attorneys are not inexpensive).

But I’d never get so much as a thank you for my payment.

All communication would just end completely until the next time I had need to call on him.

And then it would be, “Hey, Danielle! How’s it going?” as it nothing was amiss and we were long-lost buddies.

So I got to thinking:

  • How many of you business owners out there are failing in your end game?
  • What are you doing to nurture your relationships?
  • Are you making sure clients and customers feel welcome to contact you again?
  • How are you helping them in between services?

In answer to these questions, here’s a list I drew up that I think will be very helpful to you if you are neglecting your all-important follow-up act. Clients want to know you like and appreciate them — before, during and after your interactions.

1. Thank your customers and clients. It seems simple enough, right? I mean, it’s just good manners. But as I shared in my story above, sometimes it’s the most obvious things that fall through the cracks. So be sure and thank your clients and customers. And I mean something beyond simply typing a line on your invoice template. Automate it or delegate it if you have to, but do go to the extra effort to thank people in a more deliberate way for their business at the conclusion of your interactions. Each and every time.

2. Ask them what’s next. Find out what projects or goals they’re thinking about currently or that are on the horizon. Not only is this good relationship-building, but it’s also a great way to find out where there are more opportunities to business together.

3. Be a knowledge center and resource. When you make the effort to know a bit more about your clients and target market, and where their interests are, you can pass on information that you think will be useful and of interest to them. You can do this individually and/or use the information to come up with relevant topics for your blog and/or ezine. “The list is the thing!” as they say, and I can’t stress enough how perfect an ezine and blog are for this task. As long as you are providing content that is of value to your clients/target market, this is a fantastic way to keep in touch, maintain connection and rapport, and create your own marketing pipeline. While you’re delivering all this great, helpful information to subscribers, it also gives you a platform to keep them informed about the goings-on in your business and remind them about services you provide that they might not know or remember (hint: refer back to #2).

4. Invite them into your networks. Hey, you’re not the only one looking to make connections. Inviting your clients and customers into your social/business networks is a nice gesture, gives them opportunities to make new contacts, and keeps them in your pipeline as well. They might even extend the favor back.

5. Be a referral source. Know what your customers do. Ask your clients what makes a good referral for them. And then spread the word. One good turn tends to result in another.

6. Get their feedback. Clients appreciate the opportunity to be heard. It shows them you care. Of course you want to know what you’re doing a good job, but don’t be afraid to look in the mirror if clients point out areas where you can stand to improve. This is pure gold to your business and you should be grateful for having those blindspots illuminated. Let them know how much their input means to you and that it will be used to make improvements whenever, wherever needed.

7. Let clients know how to refer business to you. Clients are people and most people like to help others. Clients who love their service providers enjoy spreading the word on their behalf. Tell them what makes a great referral for you and exactly who you are looking to work with. The more clear and specific you are, the easier you make it for them to send others your way and the more frequently they will do so.

RESOURCE: If you’re looking for a fantastic, comprehensive feedback form that can be adapted to any business, get our Client Feedback Form the ACA Success Store.

© Copyright by Danielle Keister for the Administrative Consultants Association. You are granted permission to republish this article only if used without alteration in its entirety with this copyright notice, title, article content, resource, and links left intact.