December 21, 2011
Taking the Time
We all know how fast paced the business world can be. Traffic buzzes by in both directions with a few speeders and slow pokes amongst the crowd. And now that the holidays are here, everything seems to speed out of control as though someone has hit the turbo button on life. We sometimes find ourselves in such a hurry that we forget to take the time to do more than drop a message or wave at those around us. While we may get to where we’re going, we’ve forgotten to take care of what matters the most- our clients and customers.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you have to slow your roll to a crawl as you shake everyone’s hand and talk about the weather. There is a niche that you must achieve in order to make it to your destination in time and still take the time to get to know your customers.
Taking time to get to know your customers
You stand out when you slow down to notice and focus on a person these days. Our time deprived society finds that type of behavior to be the exception – not the norm. Valuing someone for who they are and slowing down to listen to their needs is virtually nonexistent when we’re having conversations with a phone in one hand ever vigilant about seeing that next text, tweet, email or update that we’re wanting to see. Become an invaluable trusted advisor not just in your industry of expertise but for life in general, when people know that they can trust that you listen to them and actually value them enough to stop and hear.
Take the time to get a little more personal at your customers comfort level. Often people quote the golden rule of “doing unto others as you would have done to you.” For your customers, think of the platinum rule – do unto others as they would have done unto them.
If you have a client who likes phone conversations and considers that important, then that might be the most effective way to reach out and connect with that person. Yet, there are some clients who dislike the phone and find it very time consuming. They find a handwritten card to be the item that provides them the feeling of being valued. And, there will be others who want and appreciate a short text that doesn’t fill their inbox, clutter their desk or take too long to receive.
Most businesses make the mistake of thinking that once they have a client, that client will stick with them. They often focus on trying to gather new clients, rather than spending time with the ones they have. It’s a misnomer to label a sale made of a client acquired as “closing the sale”. It’s really more like “opening a relationship”. It’s not the end but the beginning and a chance to them to see confirmation in their choice or for you to slip out of sight and out of mind.
Spend quality time with your customers so that they are eager to share and recommend you to people they influence. There’s nothing better than being able to borrow from someone else’s credibility as they speak to their sphere of influence about your services. The natural results are new connections at a higher level of engagement and new customers for you. Take the time to take care of your clients, and your business will grow accordingly.
What are some ways you can take the time to know your customers?
- Compile a list of 20 questions or factoids that you need to know about each and every client you have (having this list compiled will help you focus and direct some of the conversations you have as well as glean the information through status updates, posts and tweets your client makes).
- Create a touch-point plan so that you are connecting with your clients not only when you have something new to sell or when something needs to be renewed – their relationship building connections.
- Track your client’s preferences- remember, you want to meet and connect with them at a level that’s comfortable for them.
- Have an organized database and contact system. There’s nothing worse that can kill the energy of making connections with clients than having to reinvent the wheel every time. If you don’t have a system in place, your energy will be lost in the process of making the connection – every single time.
- Keep this acronym in mind – S.Y.S.T.E.M. – Save Yourself Significant Time, Energy and Money.