by Matt Brock, Divergent Planning (@matthewbbrock)
Like most philosophical ideas, "Intentionality" leaves room for interpretation. For me, intentionality brings about thoughts of having an overall mission and being self-aware of whether my actions are moving me toward this mission. When dealing with clients, I want them to feel better than before they were working with me. Often, I have to slow down and step back to make sure what I am doing is in line with the mission. How can we use intentionality to better our client relationships?
It is important to have a systematic, yet personable approach to dealing with clients. There is a fine line between treating clients as if they are part of an industrial manufacturing line and treating them as if they are the only clients you have. Many companies struggle trying to achieve this. By incorporating intentionality in every-day dealings with clients.
Lead your clients. Let’s face it, clients hire a company usually to do something they don’t have the skills, desire or time to do themselves.They want and need your company. They need you to be a leader for them.
Set expectations. Many companies set the expectations of a service or product in a signed client agreement. While this makes our lawyers happy (and it is a necessary evil), it doesn’t really do anything for the relationship. Unfortunately, often this is not read thoroughly by the customer and if it is, the legalese of the agreement takes all the personalization out of it. Instead, expectations should reiterated real language. Remind clients of exactly why they are hiring you and what they should expect from and what you expect from them.
Get feedback along the way. Don’t ask if there is anything else you can do for them at the END of a meeting, call or email. Do it at the beginning. It lets the client know it is important to you and they are more likely to answer honestly. Communication is key. Despite what you think and the perceived value you feel like you are providing a client, you NEVER know for sure.
Tell them what is needed from them for you to be at your best. How often have you done work for a client only for that work to come to a standstill because you are waiting for them to get back to you? A client is not a prospect anymore. Bother the hell out of them. Remember, they hired you because they need you.
Deliver with pride. There is a saying in business (at least in my industry) that says “Under-promise and Over-deliver”. Huh? So, we should tell clients some of what we want to deliver and hopefully we do more and they value us because of that? I disagree completely. Explain to clients exactly what your intentions are and deliver that product or service with pride. Will clients be 100% satisfied all the time? Maybe not. But if you know your companies’ capabilities, articulate them to clients, then follow through on it you will generate more value than a company whose mantra is to short sell themselves by under-promising.
What are some other ways we can be intentional with clients?