Sometimes I don’t sleep. I think it started when my oldest got his driver’s license. My eyes didn’t fully shut until I heard his key turn in the lock. Today that child is in the Czech Republic studying abroad. I have no idea what time he gets in as I can’t hear his key turn across the ocean. Yet, I still worry. Knowing his plane was landing at 3 a.m. our time when he first arrived, like a sixth sense, my eyes shot open to look at the clock, concerned that he arrived safely. It wasn’t until his text arrived a while later saying all was well that I finally got back to sleep.
For parents and caretakers out there, you understand that this comes with the territory. My son tells me the only person who worries more than me is my mother. And that made me wonder. When our clients have pressing issues, how much sleep do we lose worrying about them?
Granted, clients are not children, but if you thought of them the way you think about loved ones, you would probably treat them more like family than just people who help pay your bills. That means hovering just a little to let them know you care.
Check in, follow up — Even if you are not currently involved in a client project, it never hurts to keep tabs on what people are up to. It’s easier today than ever before thanks to LinkedIn, Facebook or the ability to follow people on Twitter. Checking in from time to time can mean sharing a helpful article or video instead of trying to sell them something.
Respect relationships — Let’s say a former client calls out of the blue to seek your expert advice on something. Give it and give it for free. A quick conversation that helps them can reap years of benefits. They’ll remember and likely contact you the next time they’re ready to hire someone with your expertise. Like family, the gesture says I’m looking out for you.
Personal attention — As your business expands, it’s natural to step aside and assign other people to handle certain client tasks. But don’t forget what it was like when you were their go-to person who answered all of their calls and went the extra mile to please them. Make sure they know you’re still fully attuned to their needs. Without those longtime clients who have relied on you through the growth spurts, you wouldn’t have a business.
Tell them what they need to know, not what they want to hear — While preparing a spokesperson for a challenging media interview a few weeks ago, a communications person stopped me and said, “Please don’t ask her those questions as we prefer she not answer them.” Just because you don’t want to address tough questions doesn’t mean you won’t get asked. When readying for any type of interview or professional conversation, it’s as important to prepare for what you don’t want to talk about as what you do hope to discuss. Fortunately, her boss stepped in and said, “She’s here to tell us what we need to know, not what we want to hear.”
Like children, clients need your help. It’s why they hire you in the first place. So, if you want them to know you have their back, be honest, tough and put their best interests before your own. You’ll sleep better and so will they.