the key to client relationships is remembering that the relationship isn’t about you. it’s about them.
Did you know that customer service is a $350 billion per year industry? Companies of all sizes pour a huge amount of thought, energy and money into what they see as quality client relationships, because they understand that if their customer service department is below par, they’re not going to be left with any customers to service. Conversely, if their customer service is great, then not only will clients stick around, they’ll refer family and friends, too.
There’s something to that. I mean, it’s obvious that if a company ignores a client in need of assistance, that client isn’t going to be returning anytime soon. On the other hand, while companies need great FAQ pages, cutting edge chatbots and all the other customer service conveniences we’re used to, they’re still not enough to keep clients coming back for more.
that’s where client relationships come in.
As business consultant Damon Richards put it, “Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s not enough that you actually do care. What you want— and need — is for your client to feel that you care.
In other words, quality client relationships and quality customer service aren’t the same. Service is a technical issue. Client relationships are how clients experience you and your company.
Let’s scenario-build here for a second. Imagine you’re a client who’s trying out an outsourcing agency for the first time. They recommend a candidate, you vet the candidate, everything looks good and you make the hire.
And it doesn’t work out.
Will that be enough for you to never use that agency again? Well, that depends on how they handle your situation. Do they follow up or do you have a hard time getting a response? Are they empathetic or defensive? Are they listening to your point of view and trying to see the situation the way you do, or are they sticking to their own narrative?
Notice that none of the above questions relates directly to the actual problem. Whether the agency does or doesn’t find a better candidate for you is, at this stage, secondary at best. What counts is, to what extent you feel that the agency cares about you and your issue. Even if they don’t manage to resolve it, the way you were treated — your experience with them — will determine your desire to work with them again.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” maya angelou
Take a minute and reread that quote. This is probably one of the best distillations of how companies need to view their client relationships: It’s not the script that counts. It’s not even the outcome that counts. It’s how you made your client feel that will make or break their desire to continue doing business with you.
And today, clients engage with businesses more than ever before. Social media and ever-more interactive apps have brought consumers and companies much closer than anyone ever dreamed was possible. That opens up a world of possibility for you and your company to engage with your clients, to show them you get them and that you’re there for them in a real way.
(And no, you can’t fake it.)
So now you know why quality client relationships are so important — and why great customer service isn’t enough on its own. How to get your great service to build up those relationships? We’ll be talking about that next time.
See you then.