After the purpose of the business has been established there will be a common theme: clients. Learning how to run a business that focuses on a client’s (or prospective clients’) needs and expectations is a key component of success.
This is especially true in the service industry. Don’t get me wrong, retailers and product peddlers need to be designing and offering wares that are desirable to their target market – but truthfully, if a consumer runs out of toilet paper it isn’t the client care that gets them rushing back to the grocery store.
When they need more toilet paper, they need more toilet paper.
On the service side, though, it is the quality of the client care that most often creates customer loyalty and a positive brand image. In the service industry, the business owner can’t wait for the client to pursue more service – running a business that way unnecessarily increases the risk that the client will look elsewhere for the attention they deserve.
Understanding the need to commit to providing a quality client care experience isn’t usually the problem – instead the challenge seems to be implementing a consistent communication plan that focuses on the client’s needs while keeping your services top of mind.
Some tips for creating a realistic communication plan:
Segment your Business
Not all clients need to receive the same level of customer care. We all know who are best clients are – where there is the most potential for repeat business, who sends the most referrals, who we enjoy working with. These “A” clients need the most attention – and understanding your book of business is vital to the growth of your business.
Set a Realistic Schedule
The best strategy is to always deliver what you’ve promised. Over-committing and then under-delivering sets the wrong tone for any enterprise. Therefore, mapping out a schedule that is realistic – determining how much contact, and what type of contact, is needed with each client segment – sets the framework for success.
You don’t have to do everything! Use your team, use template/customizable marketing resources available, use technology. Take the pressure off of yourself and share the load with your staff (if you have one), strategic partners, or invest a little at a marketing resource firm who can provide you with some ghost-written materials that add value to your client relationships.
Plug your plan into your calendar – or go one step further and purchase some client management software that will remind you of who you need to call, or email, or visit. This way keeping in contact with your clients becomes part of your routine – not an added pressure.
Finally, never risk annoying your clients. Make sure that whatever you are contacting them about adds value and speaks to their needs. The content of the contact, as well as the frequency and method used should be pleasing to your client and enhance your relationship.
Remember – it’s all about them.