Exceptional client service is about going above what is realistically expected of you, and delivering value that goes far beyond just your product or service offering.
Let’s face it, that’s not always easy.
The IT services industry is highly competitive, and there’s no shortage of technically skilled, highly qualified, code-loving professionals for clients to trust their projects to. Businesses must leverage quality client service if they want to develop “partnerships” with their clients, and truly differentiate themselves.
In my 10+ years of Client Services experience, I’ve found that a large majority of my success can be attributed to a few simple practices. If you’re looking to optimize customer satisfaction and grow prosperous client relationships, these tips may be of assistance:
Shut up and listen
No matter what type of product or service you offer, you can’t help your client unless you listen and understand what they need. Your job is to help them find solutions tailored to meet those needs – and that is where the primary focus should be. Always remember that they are hiring your company based on your skills and expertise, as well as your ability to understand and meet their goals. Most importantly, you are not there to sell them something, they already have a need to buy. The key is to listen to their needs and concerns and offer a consultative, unbiased approach. The sale will happen when the client is confident in your ability to deliver.
It’s not always WHAT you say, but HOW you say it
A client can sense when you are just going through the motions and when you are genuinely trying to help them resolve their situation. Sighing and groaning, having an attitude, not being responsive, or presenting them with solutions that don’t meet their needs will only promote frustration, negativity, and certainly be reflective in their responses and attitudes back towards you. Approach your clients with a positive attitude, as well as a realistic solution to their issue. Accept the fact that you’re not always going to have all the answers, and there are some things you won’t be able to help them with. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Stay focused and remember, you’re not always going to tell a client what they want to hear. But, it’s your personality, delivery and honesty that will resonate, build confidence and keep you and your organization at the forefront of their minds.
Don’t Keep a client in the dark
Nothing is worse than paying someone for a project and then being left in the dark. Keep lines of communication open from the first phone call to the final sign-off of the project’s completion. Keep checking in on the client, even if there is a PM involved. Proper communication and an effective project plan will help keep things organized for everyone involved. Get in front of issues when you can and know when to proactively reach out to mitigate fire drills. Follow up with clients even when there isn’t a project going on. After all, if your clients can go months without hearing from you, they can go forever without recommending you. Although you may think that indifference and incompetence are two different things, to your clients, they are one in the same.
Develop a thick skin
I hate to break it to you, but not every client will “like” you. They won’t all be ultra-responsive to your positive attitude. Some clients will be resistant for various reasons, and that is something that you cannot control. What you CAN control, is treating each client with the utmost respect and showing them that it’s not all about the sale. It’s about developing the relationships and the process that goes along with that to build a long-lasting partnership that results in repeat business and enthusiastic referral resources.
All of this advice ultimately boils down to one simple truth – “People tell people about service they receive, not competence they expect. Ever heard someone brag about how clean their dry cleaners get their clothes?”
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