“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Bill Gates
When anyone starts a service or a business, their overriding sentiment is based on their brilliant product and how much customers are going to love it as much them. The reality is that there will be some who love it like you, maybe everyone when they first come across it, but along the client journey there will be annoyances, delays, imperfection, last minute changes……you get the gist! Client and account management is therefore key.
The perfect client experience is the holy grail.
No matter how much planning or goodwill there will always be a moment of unhappiness or surprise at things not quite going to plan. And sometimes, with the best will in the world, where everyone is happy with a concept, the detail that emerges afterwards makes it too difficult to deliver or resources too small to cover the cost.
In spite of all this, one must do everything possible to cover all eventualities and be in a position to fight the small fires, and occasional big ones. Here are some dos and don’ts which can help in this process.
● The customer is not always right. The well-turned phrase that they are always right works for a simple exchange of goods and money, but for a relationship to develop there must be an equal amount of give and take. They are paying money, correct, but they are paying in the knowledge that they are buying expertise and this expertise knows what they’re doing. Customers expecting the earth for their wedding need to be managed and told ‘no’ to unrealistic demands. Setting boundaries ensures proper respect.
● Warm but not too friendly. Of course it’s sometimes unavoidable to be on great friendly terms with people you meet through work, it’s a great thing. When you become too close to clients this needs careful attention as over-familiarity leads to expectations on price and a grey area over how much is expected. It’s important to get the balance right and remain professional.
● Create an action plan but remain flexible. Highlighting project deliverables and times when the people involved all check in for an update creates a framework everyone can refer back to. You need to be able to contact your client and your client needs to see progress. Having a plan up front ensures the client is aware of the need to be in regular contact and for all to see their responsibilities. Expectations are then managed from day one.
● Stay calm. This sounds obvious but when your work is being criticised or clients fail to deliver assets to an agreed schedule, it’s easy to get upset. If a client is stressed or unhappy, it’s easy to respond in kind but these are the times to take a breath and exude calm. Mistakes do happen, we are only human, and bad opinions get used in heated moments, not the basis for good work or relationships.