Client Needs: 7 Things Your Clients Need To Hear You Say
There’s always a little (or not so little) gap between the provider and the client needs, stemming from lack of time or resources, high stakes, and terminology clients sometimes find vague and intimidating.
Running a business may, at times, be complicated, but closing this gap with your client is not a walk in the park either.
Luckily, this is where clear and efficient communication saves the day.
Marketing your business, products and services, along with all the other efforts involved to draw in more business, will be in vain if your clients cannot grasp what you’re about. Get on the same wavelength as them – good communication often influences the desired outcome.
What’s more, it will most definitely result in free advertising, whether by word-of-mouth or on the Internet, in the form of stellar recommendations and referrals.
Although building a strong client relationship marked by trust doesn’t happen overnight, there are a few shortcuts – all of which boil down to communication skills.
Here’s the seven most important things your clients need to hear you say:
1. I care about your needs, therefore I listen to you.
When it comes to some common mistakes business owners make, failing to fully and deeply understand their client’s needs takes the cake. Its root cause is, unsurprisingly, when you simply don’t listen to the client.
Turning a deaf ear to someone who’s paying for your services is a great faux-pas in any business, much less in yours. Clients need to hear you’re collecting all the information you can, and that you truly care about their needs. Stipulate it loud and clear.
A recent study published by Clark Cunningham in 2013 dealing in lawyer-client interaction greatly illustrates the power of listening to your client needss. The paper included a poignant experience from a former client who had to sack her solicitor, simply because she wouldn’t listen:
“I went to [this solicitor] because of her reputation and expertise – she is a part-time registrar– but she just doesn’t listen. She listens for part of what I have to say, and then interrupts, saying something like ‘OK, I’ve got the picture, what we’ll do is . . .” and she hasn’t really got the picture, she’s only got half the picture. I think it’s partly because she so busy, and also because she’s simply not used to giving clients a voice… What’s more she has actually made me frightened of expressing my views. I am about to change to another solicitor.”
2. I am enthusiastic and competent at what I do.
A dispassionate, negligent business owner is like a dark cloud looming overhead. Nobody in their right mind wants their issues in the hands of a wet blanket, a slacker, or a pure ignorant. Your client wants to see you’re a passionate individual, determined to bring mounds of energy and expertise to the table.
Don’t hesitate to show all of your zeal and knowledge; it will instill their confidence in you and act as a soothing balm to their concerned minds.
3. I am upfront about how I conduct my business.
Laying down all the details on how you handle your business – from availability, billing, meetings, confidentiality etc. – is key to a successful cooperation between you and the client.
You don’t want some minor technical detail get in the way of your relationship, so spell out the conditions beforehand to dodge any potential misunderstandings and unpleasant surprises.
4. You’ll not always like what I’m going to say, but it’s going to be in your best interest.
Massaging your client’s ego or masking the true state of affairs is a plunge into pure catastrophe. Instead of sugar-coating, prepare them for the worst-case scenario while you do everything in your power to secure the best possible outcome.
Sometimes you’ll need to deliver some harsh facts to your client. That’s ok, as long as they know you have their best interests at heart.
5. You can count on my confidentiality.
It’s hardly any news that a major part of the client relationship relies on confidentiality. You may think this is implied, but a lot of people are extremely wary about disclosing information even to someone like their lawyer.
Promise them confidentiality and reliability, both with words and actions, and explain why it’s crucial they fully trust you.
6. I’m available for you.
Certain clients get the unfortunate feeling it would sometimes be easier to get in touch with the Prime Minister than you.
The importance of regularly touching base with your client needs was also confirmed in Cunningham’s beforementioned paper. In it he reported that the primary cause of dissatisfaction among big corporate clients with their lawyers falls under the umbrella of poor communication. In fact, 21% addressed failure to be adequately informed as the main reason why they fired their lawyer.
That’s a big no-no in any sphere, and one that can be easily avoided. If you cannot get back to your clients immediately, get in touch with them as soon as you can. Even a reply from your assistant will do, as long as they feel acknowledged and kept in the loop.
7. Tell me what I can do better or differently.
By letting your client know their opinion matters to you, you’ll prove that you’re a true professional who can put the quality of their work before their ego. Asking for feedback is not a sign of weakness, but the very opposite.
Smart clients know this; they also know your work ethics and your thorough and conscientious approach is a true asset which will not go unnoticed.
Some closing notes
The importance of communication-competence matters not only in regard to building better client relationships, but even stretches to the outcome of what you deliver. Being open and transparent is intertwined with the quality of the services you provide.
If you fail to do so, word will get out quickly, and your own reputation might be at stake. Once the damage is done, it’s not easy to unring that bell! Therefore, at the danger of sounding like a broken record, we’ll say it again – communicate. Well and often.
If you want to learn more about communication and marketing your professional services, we’d be happy to lend you a hand. Contact us for a free consultation session to discuss how our integrated marketing services can boost your firm’s image and results.