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Fight For The Right Clients

The gap between addressing expectations and client satisfaction can be frustrating.

Anyone who works ON their business has gone down the road of expectations. We craft emails, jump on conference calls and do follow up in an attempt to communicate precisely what we offer.

Many times in an attempt to recoup a miscommunication or address client concerns, we devalue our product or service. I am a firm believer in going above and beyond for clients, but there is a breaking point. The breaking point is when the product or service is no longer valued.

I am happy to give much more than I am paid. This creates firm, lasting client relationships that lead to revenue for both parties.

What I have learned from clients lost is that the breaking point came in the perception of value. No matter how hard I tried to convey results and processes, if the client’s perception of value is different than what I can offer, the relationship will not last. And that is OKAY!

I have fought for customer relationships that do not make sense of my business. I did this because I was new in my career and didn’t have full confidence in what I brought to the table. The wrong clients don’t offer life-time-value or impact my bottom line. An unsatisfied customer will never refer my business. Instead, time and money are lost in communication that will not lead to satisfaction on either side.

I realize it is necessary to understand client concerns so I can refine my processes, address errors in my systems and provide a stellar service. However, it is equally important to identify when the client/business relationship is not a good fit.

How I identify a bad fit:

  1. Mission Creep
    I first learned this term when working on retainer for a large media group. I had the privilege of building up their marketing consulting team. Their team used the term “mission creep” when clients asked for services that went beyond their agreement.
  2. Negative ROI for your team
    A mentor of mine says, “The lowest paying clients often expect the greatest amount of time and services.” So far in my career, this has proved to be so true. When a client understands how my service meets their needs, can afford me, and I can provide what is promised, there are no issues. When things are a bad fit, I spend huge amounts of time and services that go beyond the agreement to appease the client.
  3. Time Traveling
    For pretty much any service, there are small errors [insert personal experience] that are easily corrected once they are brought to light. For clarity, I am not talking about significant issues that show faulty service. When clients are not a good fit, it does not matter that my team corrected a small error. The issue is paramount for the client even after the correction is in place.

How I leave with grace:

  1. Do whatever is realistically possible to resolve concerns.
    I always admit fault when I or my team made a mistake. Honesty is critical to my brand. I resolve anything that can be resolved. Meaning, if I didn’t do something that was promised, I resolve the issue. Most importantly I do my best to ensure the client feels heard and address each of their points with an explanation and potential solution.
  2. End the relationship, but provide precisely what you promised.
    I have learned to say, “We want you to be successful, even if that means discontinuing our team.” I always try to leave things on good terms. When there is a gap in the client’s perception of value and what I can realistically offer, I reiterate what was promised and offer confirmation/evidence that the request was filled.
  3. Consider a refund.
    Brand is more important than pride. When I have fulfilled a service request, but the client is not satisfied it MIGHT be time for a refund. Refunds will depend on the service I offered. For example, if my team built a website and the client isn’t happy it would not be ideal to provide a refund when employees spent months working. I consider a refund when a client is not satisfied, but dollars are easily recouped with another sale.

I try to end the relationship closer to break even.

My key is not to go too far down the line of negative ROI for my business. I factor in my your brand image when evaluating ROI for the service. Dollars lost initially in ending a relationship peacefully may help my overall brand.

There are potential customers out there that can afford and need my service! I do not need to fight for those that cannot. My goal is to address concerns and offer the highest quality services possible.

When quality and service are part of my brand, it is easier to identify when a client is not a good fit for my business.

AUTHOR: Samantha H, MBA

From Her Desk founder. Former ballerina turned MBA. She earned her undergraduate degree in International Bussines and a Masters in Business Administration from Oral Roberts University. She is the co-founder of Hollyfield Consulting.

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