We have a million ways to connect with clients – email, office phone, and cell phone, texting & social media. And while this is incredibly beneficial for the customer it can present unique challenges for the business owner.
We want our clients to feel valued. This is a core concept behind good customer service and Customer Retention Strategies. The problem lies in setting boundaries.
Where do you set your boundaries? Do your clients have your personal cell phone but aren’t friends with you on facebook? Do they contact you via Twitter or only through the office phone? These are personal choices and much of the expectations lie in the size and type of business you run. My clients have my personal cell phone number but there is rarely a situation where off-hour conversations are necessary – most things can wait until the next business day. That being said, clients will only respect your boundaries if you require them to.
I had a longtime client who had a bad habit of texting me when it was convenient for her regardless of the time. The first few times I gently reminded her to use the office number or email but the final straw came when I received a text from her at 7 am on a Sunday morning. To say I was livid would be an understatement. Obviously, a more direct conversation about boundaries was necessary. If I had addressed the issue at the beginning, I wouldn’t have found myself now needing to change problematic behavior.
The key to training your clients is setting up boundaries at the onset of the relationship. We brought on a new client, a doctor with a busy schedule, and we often found it difficult to connect with her. There was a holiday approaching and she suggested we have a conference call that day. I responded by reminding her that it was a holiday and she responded by telling me that she was aware but it would be more convenient for her. It was her pet project so she didn’t mind working over the holiday but if we employed that line of thought with every client we would be on call 24/7. We’re not a hospital, we’re a branding firm, and there is truly nothing that can’t wait. I politely told her we would be closed and that it would have to wait until Tuesday.
That is not to say that we don’t make exceptions. In the rare case that we need to deal with a client during off-hours, we are happy to do so but it is the exception, not the rule. The most important thing is that your clients understand the boundaries and respect them.
Setting boundaries is critical in maintaining a healthy and happy client relationship. Don’t worry about losing a customer. Most people are reasonable and understand that you are entitled to time away from the office. We have never lost a client because we set boundaries. If anything, it makes for a smoother less stressful interaction because everyone is on the same page. But if the client is so unreasonable as to demand we work off hours with them, they aren’t the type of client we want to retain and they are better suited somewhere else. The sanity of my staff (and myself) is more important.
Balancing work and personal life is always tricky. Simplify the process. You’ll be happier and healthier in the long run.
We Can Help
3D Studios helps businesses grow their influence and their brands. As a boutique brand management agency, we begin with a thorough analysis of your needs and partner with you to develop and execute a marketing plan that will help you take your business to the next level. To learn more about how 3D Studios can help you, visit us at www.3Dstudios.net or call 914-304-4229.