Your clients don’t need to give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, but they do need to trust you and – to a degree – like you. If you feel that your clients dislike you, trouble is brewing. Now’s the time to lean in and figure out how you can develop a more positive rapport with your customer base.
Diagnosing the Problem
Most clients are going to tell you exactly how they feel. They’re spending money on your products and services and expect to receive a certain amount of value. If they don’t get this value, they’ll let you know. But what isn’t always so clear is why your clients don’t like you. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper than the surface-level problem. In doing so, you may uncover some of the following culprits:
1. No Personal Connection
There are very few businesses that can survive on relationships that are purely transactional. In almost every industry, you need some sort of personal connection to maintain happy and healthy client relationships. If you’re struggling to establish personal connections, it means that you’re (a) playing it too safe, and/or (b) not doing enough research on your target market. Tearing down these walls will allow you to intersect your clients’ lives in a more personal manner that generates trust and loyalty.
2. Lack of Transparency
Transparency is a big deal in today’s marketplace. You’ll find that the most successful companies prioritize transparency in an attempt to connect with customers on a more intimate level. If you aren’t being transparent, you’re falling behind. Transparency doesn’t mean sharing your trade secrets and publicizing confidential information. It does, however, mean adopting a posture where you’re willing to have open and honest interactions where you don’t hide important information or disguise the truth.
Few things make you look worse than a lack of organization. Clients have an expectation that you know what you’re doing and any sort of disorganization creates questions in their minds. You can overcome this point of friction by addressing obvious areas of disorganization. Accounting and invoicing is one example of a problem area that small businesses often deal with.
As Freshbooks explains, “Your invoice isn’t just another business document or a flashy way of showing you’re the real deal. At the end of the day, your invoice is really your ticket to getting paid.” Coming up with an organized system for invoicing and accounting – as well as other key aspects of your business – will reassure your clients and put them at ease.
4. Lack of Follow-Through
If you say you’re going to do something, do it. It’s a simple business principle, but very few companies actually live up to it. If follow-through is an issue for your business, you need to make some changes. The best rule of thumb is to under promise and over deliver. By setting moderate expectations and regularly exceeding them, you control the expectations and the execution. It’ll make your life a lot easier.
Believe it or not, a lot of customers feel disrespected by the companies they do business with. As a result, they adopt a defensive mentality and are quick to become frustrated. You might not think you’re actively disrespecting your customers, but it could be true. To be safe, you should spend more time showing your clients you care about them.
This may look like you’re asking about their personal life (appropriately, of course) and remembering details so that you can bring them up again in the next conversation. You also shouldn’t be afraid of having a little fun. “Laughter is a sign of caring,” customer experience expert Michele McGovern writes. “Every conversation and exchange doesn’t have to be all business. Appropriate humor from you or customers is a powerful way to build stronger bonds.”
Summary: Delivering Client Satisfaction
You can’t satisfy every client and exceed their grandest expectations. It’s unrealistic to think otherwise. But there are some simple, smart steps you can take to determine why your clients are upset with you and to change your ways. In the end, it’s customer satisfaction that will either drive your business into the ground, or allow it to scale with ease and efficiency. Make sure you’re taking it seriously.