By Pol Arellano
Client trust. As an entrepreneur, you’re especially familiar with these two very important words. And why wouldn’t you be? You remember the hard work you’ve put in to earn it — and the harder work you’ve had to exert to keep it looking oh-so-pristine.
Client trust determines the success of your business, and you know that by heart.
But somewhere along the way, you find yourself on the receiving end of curt emails, which before, were warm. Straight faces instead of smiles. “Cancel thats” instead of “go aheads”. Without realizing it, you’ve scuffed the oh-so-pristine and hard to acquire client trust.
But you have absolutely no idea how you did it.
Here are four ways you might be scuffing your client’s trust, and how you can polish it back to its immaculate state.
- You Might Be Inconsistent
During the first few encounters with your client, you made sure that you’re delivering quality service in a timely manner. However, the past few transactions aren’t meeting the old you standard — you’re not being able to answer calls or return them promptly.
You noticed the slip-up, and you go back to your old awesome ways — at least for a couple of months — and then you find yourself missing deadlines and quality checks yet again.
Basically, your clients feel like they’re on a rollercoaster when it comes to your service and boy oh boy, they wouldn’t want to be on that ride.
Inconsistency is a problem. Your clients’ patronage depend on how consistent and persistent you deliver services.
It’s hard for your clients to think of you as dependable and reliable when you don’t answer their phone calls or promptly return voicemail messages about what they need.
Make sure that you deliver on your promises. Always check if your resources match the services you need to provide. If not, then make the necessary upgrades. Are you able to ease client concerns and answer queries quickly over the phone? Are you communicating with them effectively and accurately? Check your processes and your people.
Everything needs to be in tip-top shape.
Remember: Keep your word to keep your clients.
- You Might Be Unprofessional
You might be guilty of postponing meetings on the absolute last second, not returning important phone calls, gossipping with your co-workers, forgetting to send a response to an important email, trying to get to know your clients a little too intimately, or sharing too much information about your life (such as how you had the best night of your life in Vegas).
These are unprofessional behavior that turn clients off faster than they can write a nasty review about your service on Yelp or ultimately, go online to find a different company they can switch to.
Make sure that you keep tabs on how you and your whole team communicate with your clients and with each other. Make sure that you discuss company policies with everyone who represents your company.
While it’s important to treat your clients like royalty, don’t make the mistake of treating them like one of the family — meaning, don’t discuss things that have nothing to do with the service, such as personal information.
Be straightforward yet polite and sincere with your communications with customers. While it is not advisable for you to learn the personal lives of your clients, here are a few things you can consider learning from your clients through valuable feedback:
- Ask about how you can enhance your service
- Ask about possible additional solutions you can provide to make their lives easier
- You Might Be Closed-minded
A client provides helpful feedback about your service. You stifle a frown, and in your best salesman of the year voice, steer the conversation to a different topic. You may think that you’re so smooth because you stopped yourself from scowling and expertly directed the conversation to your favor, but alas, you’re not.
You didn’t stop yourself from being close-minded, and yes, your client did notice that you failed to take in constructive criticism.
Though it is important to be an authority in your industry, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not supposed to listen to your clients when they have a comment or two about how you conduct business.
Not only is it impolite, but you’re missing out on key things that you can certainly improve upon — things that can help turn your local business into a nationwide chain. That is, if you keep an open mind.
Speaking of being open minded, while you’re sure that your product or service is simply aces, you must be open to the idea that different clients have different needs. And that may mean that they may need other companies’ help in order to function optimally.
Be big enough to accept this reality and be honest about your limitations. They will appreciate your keeping their best interest as a top priority, and remember you well for it, cementing your reputation as a truly trustworthy and upright company worthy of their — and their friends, families, and loved ones’ — business.
- You Might Be Too Much of a Sales Robot, too Less of an Actual Human Being
Do you find yourself peppering your sentences with jargon whenever you speak with your clients (to sound more knowledgeable than you really are)?
Explaining concepts to first-time customers by using highly convoluted examples (and hoping that they don’t ask too many questions about it and to just take the bait)?
Modulating your voice (that you end up sounding like a bad cliche of a salesman)? Trying (and failing) to be someone you’re not whenever you speak about your company or product?
Busy impressing your customers about how swell business is (by being overly boastful about your company’s achievements)?
If you said yes to any of these questions, you might be guilty of trying to become a sales robot rather than a human being which may heavily damage your clients’ trusting you and your brand. No one wants to feel manipulated. Especially smart clients who have much better things to do with their time.
What your clients are interested to know is how you can help them with their need, or how your product or service can provide them with the end goal they want to achieve.
If your client feels like they’re stuck in a sales pitch nightmare, they will not be interested to know more about your business. Or talk to you ever again.
Conversations with clients should always be forthright and natural. And it shouldn’t just be you on the talking end. Great entrepreneurs know when to zip it and listen to what their customers are saying.
A client will feel at ease when you’re responses are genuine, candid, and are based on the issue or question they’re presenting — and not a rehearsed speech or facts about your product or service that they’re not interested in.