Although customers aren’t always right, they are the lifeblood of your business. You need them. And though you think they need you in return, the truth is they can go somewhere else if they really want to.
Creating a customer experience that keeps them coming back can be done in many, many creative ways that suit your business and your clients. But there are a few things that solopreneurs universally should NEVER do when dealing with customers:
Take them for granted
With so many external variables (budget constraints, shifts in priorities, hiring talent in-house, etc.) that could come into play when working with a client, don’t assume they’ll be around forever – even if they’re happy with your products and services. Always make an effort to maintain strong rapport with them, because that could prompt them to do their best to keep you on projects even when times are tough. And always think ahead about how you’ll replace the revenue from them if ever they meet unforeseen pressures and need to cut you loose.
Take advantage of them
True story: Not too terribly long ago, I trained at a martial arts studio that had a very closely-knit community of members. Eager to help the sole owner of the studio, members would freely donate their time to tasks like refilling the refrigerator with water bottles, helping with the kids’ classes, even cleaning the bathroom. Rather than show appreciation, the owner started taking members’ generosity for granted. He would get them to fill in for him when he didn’t feel like showing up to teach or when he wanted to step out for a cup of coffee. Rather than answer his own phone or greet prospective new members when they walked in the door, he instead expected his members to do it.
The members got fed up with it, and the vast majority left. In fact, many of them left to study martial arts at the home-based studio that two of the former members started on their own. All they had learned from essentially running the other guy’s business for him paid off. Now they are his competition.
Treat them like crap
In a bad mood? Who cares! At all times, you need to treat your clients with respect and kindness. That’s not to say you can’t ever disagree with them or share when something doesn’t seem quite equitable. But you need to do it tactfully and in a non-accusatory tone. Your words and actions matter a great deal in building and nurturing business relationships. Nothing can spoil your brand reputation faster than being a jerk – word of mouth travels fastest when it doesn’t have anything nice to say!
Remember, as a solopreneur, you are your brand. And it’s on your shoulders to make that brand one with a reputation of excellence. Always put your best foot forward when working and communicating with clients.
Do you have any examples of businesses that have totally missed the mark in how they treat their customers? How do you approach your client relationships to make them stronger?
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