Friday, December 07, 2007

Taking Care of Clients is Personal

Taking care of clients is just like taking care of a spouse or significant person in a personal relationship. If you are going-through-the-motions in a personal relationship everything travels downhill pretty fast!

Face it, people can feel the difference between caring (a concerned connection) and careful (keeping the status quo). Think about good and bad relationships in your life, just as I have in mine and you know this to be a truth.

But staying connected to clients is challenging. So much to do and such a big backlog of work -- couldn't we put together a customer service program to cover the bases so I can keep trucking along?

Yes . . . and no.

If you really care, what you do comes from your heart -- not a customer service program. Yet so many firms (lawyers and marketers) miss the opportunity to really connect with their clients because they wish for "client satisfaction" to be a process of actions, and not actions based on real care. If you want to be connected to your clients try not to do or be any of these things:
  • "We'll have to do this to keep them" - If you're going through the motions they already know you could care less. Cut your losses by admitting what their business means to you right up front and ask for their help in keeping the relationship alive.
  • "If our competition is doing it then we should too" - If you're following the moves of your competition you've already lost the battle. This means that you have no idea what your clients really want and are willing to copy someone else in hope of recovering from your own mistakes.
  • "They're talking to our competition" - If you knew your spouse was ripe for an "affair", would you confront the spouse, or would you confront yourself? I suggest the latter is the first step.
  • "This won't cost nearly as much as finding a new client like them" - Wow! You really don't care, do you!
  • "We'll look good" - Do you remember the fashions of the '70's or '80's? We didn't look good but we thought so . . . and yet we had friends and connected with people. "Looking good" is never a real thing and "doing the right thing" always is.
  • "I need the firm to show them I care" - No one else can do what you need to do. When a relationship in trouble there is only one thing to do -- step up.
I know there are so many wonderful professionals totally focused on doing the right thing for their clients. The thinking illustrated above is only an example of what some people think. Sincere care for clients (people) cannot be taught in schools or seminars. It is learned by example and mentoring. Teach it, evangelize it and tolerate nothing less. The reward continues long after the effort is made.