Keep them; don't drive them away
Client communications are an integral part of every client relationship. When done well, they can lead to great rapport, trust and customer loyalty. When done poorly, they can lead to deterioration and total collapse of the relationship. Make sure you know and avoid these common disasters.
Don’t: Tell “white lies.” Exaggeration included.
Do: Sugarcoating an issue may seem like the more polite option – or even the option most likely to get you the account in the short run. But your clients rarely thank you for it in the end. Having an honest conversation upfront demonstrates your commitment to providing the best advice, even when it’s not something they want to hear or in your own best interest. Be candid. Tell them you want to make sure they are putting the right products and solutions in place for their real needs – and looking for the lowest price (or other short term gains), often leads to major regrets when you need that product.
Don’t: Play the blame game, even when it’s not your fault.
Do: Clients really don’t care whose fault it is. What they want are solutions. Accept responsibility and take the lead (even when it is the client’s fault) to drive toward solutions instead of lingering in negative past results. Show how your new idea will provide the answer to the issue or propel them forward. Better yet, engage them in the problem-solving process to repair trust and the relationship as you work together for their benefit.
Don’t: Break promises (or the classic, over-promise and under-deliver).
Do: Know your limits. Making a promise and then falling short tells your client that you are unreliable. Not only was your client banking on you to keep your word, but your reputation can take a hit as well. If a client is pressing for a promise you’re not sure you can keep, be upfront about that and set realistic goals together. Also, whenever you have to say “no,” always offer an alternative. Show them how you can set them on a better, more sustainable path.
Don’t: Have an identity crisis.
Do: Be clear on who you are and what you stand for before you ever walk into a client’s office or send that first email. And have confidence in your personal brand to identify when a client may not be a good fit. There’s nothing more painful than trying to forge a good relationship with a company or client whose values are distinctly different than yours. Relationships are built on shared values, visions and purpose. Trying to be something you’re not rarely makes for a successful partnership.
Wine lover, foodie, father, husband, Christian, music enthusiast and insurance professional. When not working, David enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and Hazel (the basset hound).
David Greene, Glatfelter Public Practice
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