Just got off the phone with a client of mine …
Our conversation was very candid – we spoke of things that each of us did well on a recent promotional effort and, more importantly, things that we both frankly could have done (much) better.
What I found out from the client was that he completely understood the volume of work I had done for him and he commended me for taking that on. He truly appreciated (and again, understood) the amount of blood, sweat and tears I put in on his behalf.
That being said, he also thought that I could have done better.
How would I have known that?
Well, if I had taken the time out of my busy week to hop on a quick 15 minute phone call and ASK HIM what he thought of the promotions I was delivering on his behalf.
Now, don’t get this confused. The client believed that I could have done more for him – not that I had left him/her hanging or “screwed him/her over” in any way — but simply that I could have done better.
Now, I could have easily brushed this individuals comments off as “Well, he/she doesn’t know any better. That’s why they hire ME – I’m the expert!”
But when I took some time to reflect upon our conversation in more detail, I realized he was completely right.
Think of the client in terms of a victim (an over exaggeration, yes i know). Nobody knows they have hurt somebody until a victim shows up and lets them know that whatever they did was wrong and hurtful.
The VICTIM is the wounded party. The victim could potentially be YOUR CLIENT.
If you felt victimized in any way, shape or form during a business transaction, would you recommend your vendors services to anybody else you know? Would you put your reputation on the line to tell your friends and colleagues, “Go with MJK, LCC, that guy REALLY knows how to not deliver on his promises and leave you in a jam. Whattta guy!”
No way in hell.
If you want to grow your own business based on referrals (which I have found are the easiest way to land new biz), then you have to leave your clients with a good taste in their mouth.
Even if you don’t deliver the greatest product around, there are many considerations to take into account:
- Insufficient time to deliver a premium product
- Your price model was perfect for what they needed done
- Etc etc etc etc
If you continuously communicate with your client, you’ll know about all these extraneous circumstances beforehand and will know that they are:
- a) okay with it, or
- b) think they’ll never work with you again
Either way, you will know what it is that your client is thinking and be able to prepare yourself accordingly to end the relationship on a high note.
But if you leave a client with a shitty taste in their mouth, they will only stick around long enough to find someone else to replace your services.
Let’s circle back to our original point: Do yourself a favor and talk to your client(s) on a regular basis.
It doesn’t even have to be very specific. If you approached your client with a simple, open ended question like “How do you think this is going?” or “What is this missing”, any issues that your client has with your work would come up in an organic and positive way.
They would HELP YOU DO YOUR JOB BETTER by telling you WHAT THEY WANT.
Avoid victimizing your clients in any way, shape or form. Trust me: You’ll be glad you didn’t in the long run.