Want To Serve Your Clients Better? Context Is Key.Oct 05, 2021
When the tempo of life (or of business) picks up, I’ve found that it’s easy to rush through the places and spaces where slow, thoughtful consideration matters most. This goes for lots of things—from family time and rest to healthy routines and the cadence of the workday. So, I check in with myself regularly to make sure I’m keeping the main things the main things, even amidst the flurry of activities and long to-do lists.
As a small business owner, I am adamant about excellent client experience. A desire to serve my clients and meet their needs even better is core to nearly every goal I have for my business. Yes, I have all sorts of big, ambitious dreams for how McMillion Consulting can accomplish that in the future, but I know that one of the best things I can do today for my clients is to be present and understand not just what they say are their pain points, but also what they don’t say. The more I can understand the context that surrounds our engagement, the better I can serve them.
Perhaps you can relate. The more dramatic, glitzier changes you make for your clients, like new offerings and updated technology, are important, but so are the basics of great service. If you could use an actionable way to serve your clients better right now, try focusing on these three simple tips.
1. Listen well.
With our phones buzzing every moment, makeshift home offices being shared with pets or family members, and the physical separation created by Zoom screens, finding someone to listen—really listen—feels like a rarity these days. I promise you, when it happens, it does not go unnoticed. You will stand out, simply by striving to be that rare good listener.
If listening isn’t a natural strength for you, start by creating an environment conducive to paying attention. On Zoom calls, change your view so that you don’t see your own face. That way, your focus is only on your client.
People tend to be forgiving if the doorbell rings for your Amazon delivery or your dog loses his mind, but when you minimize distractions, chances are, you’ll be able to listen a bit easier. Find a quiet room, or better yet, an office space away from your home.
If you’re the kind of person who listens better by taking notes, pull out a pad of paper and a pen. As simple as it sounds, hearing your clients is one of the greatest ways you can serve them.
2. Ask thoughtful questions.
Showing up for your clients is not a spectator sport. If something piques your interest in a conversation, dive deeper. You never know what important details you could have missed if you didn’t take the time to ask.
At the most basic level, seek to understand the ‘why’ behind the timing and scope of your engagement. For example, I typically ask my clients to expound upon why they hired me when they did, what they’re hoping to accomplish, and who has a stake in the challenge we’re tackling together. You won’t understand your client’s world if you don’t seek to understand it. And to lead well, you need to know the lay of the land.
3. Verify your assumptions.
I recently received an update from a group that hired me for a speaking engagement about a minor change in the event logistics. Instead of dismissing the change as nothing more than a last-minute tweak, I decided to pick up the phone and verify my assumptions. Why? Because without greater context, it was impossible to know if that small change was actually an indication that the event would be rescheduled.
To serve your clients well, it pays to double- or triple-check your assumptions. Not only can they lead you to the wrong conclusions about what a client needs, but you also might miss an opportunity to serve in a broader capacity. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: when in doubt, pick up the phone.
If you’re overwhelmed in your pursuit of becoming a better version of yourself when serving your clients, don’t overthink it. Going back to the basics of listening, engaging, and verifying your assumptions can change the trajectory of your engagement with a client and elevate it from a pleasant transaction to a strong professional relationship.
If you can’t tell, I’m a big believer that starting small is better than not starting at all. That’s why I love equipping you with bite-sized ways to get going and start closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. If improving your engagement on LinkedIn is on your to-do list, but you don’t know where to start, check out my Put a Ring on It Challenge. In just five days and only 15 minutes each day, you will learn how to develop essential habits on LinkedIn that make all the difference down the road.