Clients who leave your office impressed feel they have taken a step up by doing business with your firm and will be the most likely to refer your business.
What easy steps can you take to make this impression? Everything you do for your clients should be perceived as a benefit. Follow these steps and you may well be on your way to a prosperous relationship:
1. Take pictures of your office. When we look with our eyes, we are accustomed to what we see. We are often more critical when looking at photos. Are papers stacked everywhere? Are tangles of computer cables visible? Is the reception-area furniture askew or tired looking? Are the pictures and photos on the wall bland or sun-bleached?
Easy step: It’s an exercise in cleanliness. The reception area should look professional. Straightening furniture, clearing away stacks of paper, and tidying desks only costs a small amount of time. Wall decorations? Clean the glass so it sparkles. Rotate positions of your artwork.
2. Replace magazines. Visitors often wait, and naturally, they may want something to read. What magazines are within easy reach? How old are they? Consider focusing on aspirational magazines highlighting luxury travel, wine collecting, and exotic cars. It delivers an unspoken message: Clients of your firm can afford this lifestyle. Current financial newspapers are always a good choice.
Easy step: Buy a selection of the magazines mentioned above. Replace them once they get shopworn. Throw them out at the end of the month, making way for new issues. Have multiple copies of the day’s financial newspapers available.
3. Offer coffee upon arrival. When you fly first class, your coat is taken from you and you are offered a beverage. Your clients can likely hang their own coats. Someone should greet them and offer to bring them a coffee or tea. It’s a welcoming gesture.
Easy step: Hire a coffee service for the office or invest in a couple of coffee machines. Have china cups and saucers (or mugs) available. Ask your receptionist to offer coffee or have a teaming arrangement with another staff member in case the phone is busy that morning.
4. Meet clients and prospects in pleasant surroundings. Different industries close a sale by bringing the prospect to a private area where they can receive personalized attention. The website Stickybranding.com talked about the clothing industry and “The Closing Room.” For example, instead of meeting clients in your office space, where phone calls and distractions intrude, meet in a conference room instead. It’s a neutral space.
Easy step: Develop a system for reserving your conference room for client meetings.
5. Let them talk. New clients face a dilemma. They feel their situation is unique. They want you to know the details. At the same time, they understand you charge by the hour. They feel the meter is running. Remove this anxiety up front.
Easy step: Explain this is an orientation meeting. There’s either no charge for the initial consultation or there’s a set charge, but it will be rebated versus future fees if they become a client. Let them explain their situation is unique. Taking notes on a yellow pad allows for eye contact; note-taking on a laptop or tablet doesn’t.
6. Talk:listen ratio. An article in the Harvard Business Review addressed the importance of being a great listener. The word “lisTen” implies a ratio of 1:10 between talking and listening. The “two ears and one mouth” ratio also mentioned in the article implies a 1:2 ratio.
Easy step: Let your client or prospect do the majority of the talking when they are outlining a situation or problem. Although you might know the solution immediately, let them get all the facts out first.
7. Meet the team. “No man is an island.” (John Donne). You aren’t engaging 1:1 with your client. There’s a team working alongside you and specialists on call. Although your client may not need their services immediately, they will be comforted knowing they are available. The unspoken message is: “Your relationship is so important, we have assigned four people.”
Easy step: When meeting with a client early in the relationship, have your assistant alongside. Briefly introduce other team members, positioning yourself as the relationship manager.
8. Rules of engagement. A client has a routine request: They need income documentation for a mortgage refinancing. You don’t need to take that call. Clients often want to talk to “the person at the top.” They need to know who to call when, expressed in a way that doesn’t offend them.
Easy step: Explain who handles different tasks on your team. Let them know you are at their service, but responding might take time. If they want certain tasks done immediately, you have a dedicated staff person available. A request made directly to you would be passed on to that person anyway.
9. Start an eNewsletter. People have short memories. How will you stay top of mind? A monthly newsletter distributed via email is a nonintrusive way to keep your name in front of them and position yourself as an expert.
Easy step: Get their permission to receive your eNewsletter. Explain why it’s a learning tool.
10. What’s in their hands when they leave? You’ve taken on a new client. Perhaps a current client has signed up for a new service. They might need to explain it to their spouse. If they are thrilled and want to tell a friend, they need a story to tell. You need marketing material that can be printed, emailed, or downloaded from your website. It must also explain the service in simple terminology.
Easy step: Your client should leave with a thin binder or folder, customized with inserts relating to the services they are using. This will help explain your services to others.
Each of the above steps reinforces the message: “The relationship is all about the client!”
|Citrix proudly sponsors this article as part of their ongoing commitment to the improvement of client experience with professional firms. Citrix believes that a slick and well executed client experience can have a transformative effect on client retention and long-term revenue.|