June 28, 2013
The most important rule of any business is to keep your clients or customers happy. There are millions of articles outlining various principles and practices of good business and marketing, but all of them could be summarized into one simple credo: “The Customer is the King”
You could have the best product, the best employees and the best social-media pages, but if you do not listen to the needs of your customer and respond accordingly, you would still be lagging behind your competition. In today’s world wherein everyone seems connected to each other, a company with a less-than-stellar talent, but superior customer service does much better than a company with stellar talent and poor customer service. This is not the era of Product or Sales Marketing; this is the era of Customer Marketing or Customer Relationship Management Marketing. Your rapport with your customers dictates your future.
When it comes to commercial cleaning services, it becomes doubly important to keep your clients satisfied because:
(a) you are entrusted with big projects, like an entire medical office or a portion of an office building, and hence they seek a high level of professionalism and efficiency from you
(b) the clients allocate a large portion of their budget – compared to residential clients – which gives them the right to demand a certain level of care
(c) your quality of service determines whether you will receive repeat business, and repeat business implies more profitability
(d) references become very important to obtain future accounts, and word-of-mouth travels much faster in professional circles.
So how do you keep your clients satisfied? There is really no one right answer because every client’s needs and challenges are different, BUT the one thing that you CAN control is YOUR attitude. Your attitude determines whether you are respected; your attitude determines whether you succeed.
Zig Ziglar – the popular author, salesman and motivational speaker – said, “Your attitude, not aptitude determines your altitude.” How very true! Skills can be taught, but attitude is generally innate. Of course, you can still teach someone to develop a better attitude, but, again, that person must have the right attitude and mindset to be willing to grow and improve as a person or professional. Ultimately, it all boils down to having an open-minded and positive attitude, and it’s very important that business owners make this very clear to their employees.
Following are some ways to demonstrate the proper attitude in order to have a fruitful and long-lasting relationship with your clients:
- Always be cordial: You might not be having the best day of your life, but do not take it out on your client or on your job. This will only make your day – and maybe your future – worse. Always be courteous towards your customer.
- Respond, not react: The following link displays a short presentation about why it is important to ‘respond’ and not ‘react’ to your customers: http://www.thejanitorialstore.com/public/Cleaning-Technicians-Customers.cfm Reacting is a very impulsive – and not productive – way to behave in any situation. Responding, on the other hand, implies you are listening to someones’ needs and offering a more rational and amicable solution to the same situation. Reacting alienates people; responding brings them closer. Reacting leads to bitterness; responding leads to trust, which is the most important factor of ANY relationship.
- Be 100% attentive: This links to the issue of being responsive. During one of my internships, I was tasked with calling potential recruits to bring them in for an initial screening interview. My employer gave me just one advice: “When you call someone, talk to them like they are the only ones on the planet”. People want to BELONG. They want to MATTER. Hence, when you are working for a client, you should make sure to give them your complete concentration and attention. You should make them feel that they are the only ones that matter! A distracted attitude will quickly lead to dissatisfied clients. One way to be completely attentive is to be immediately responsive to their needs. If the client has a problem with something, be sure to brainstorm and quickly get back to them. The longer you drag an issue, the more disgruntled a client will become.
- Keep your promise: Broken promises lead to loss of accounts. Period. This loops back to the issue of trust. Do not make a promise you cannot keep. It’s much better to be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses, instead of promising something you cannot accomplish. If you cannot do something, apologize and say, “I cannot do that” or let your clients know that you will work something out and get back to them. In other words, be HONEST. Honesty is the greatest virtue of humankind. Would you like to be the recipient of broken promises? NO! Give the same respect to your clients that you deserve for yourself.
- Be accountable and don’t be ashamed of apologies: There is nothing shameful about saying, “I am sorry!” Egotism only leads to dead-ends. If you take responsibility for your actions, your clients will automatically trust you and give you another chance. Making excuses or playing the blame-game is only going to prove detrimental for your business.
- Be professional: There are several components to professionalism, such as punctuality, time-management, organizational abilities and timeliness. It’s often said that ‘the first impression is the best impression.’ Very true, but when it comes to business relationships, it is very important to maintain a good impression throughout your contract. You could have been thoroughly professional during the first week of your job, but if you start idling later, it’s quite possible that your client will no longer care about their ‘first impression’ and will, consequently, lose interest in your business. Consistency is the key. There are going to be productive and not-so-productive days, but it is paramount to maintain a certain level of professionalism.
- Do not be intrusive: It’s okay – even good – to be friendly with your clients. But don’t poke your nose into where it doesn’t belong. At the end of the day, this is a B2B relationship, which necessitates some level of privacy and it’s, therefore, recommended to keep your distance.
- Do not gossip: I think this deserves a special mention because it’s only human nature to crib about something or someone! Say there is an employee at your client’s workplace that you – for whatever reason – take a dislike to: it’s much wiser to swallow your opinion and just try to get along instead of talking about that employee to someone else. You never know if or when or how your comments reach that employee’s ears, which could prove quite damaging. Why take the risk of putting your or your businesses’ prospects in jeopardy? Limit your personal thoughts to outside the workplace, and even then it’s just good practice to not make it a habit of being opinionated about your clients!
- Be respectful: All the aforementioned points might indicate that it’s never good to disagree with your client. But that’s not what we are trying to convey. It’s okay to have difference of opinions – in fact, healthy disagreements only fuel creativity and stimulate the thought-process, leading to long-term growth. HOWEVER, make sure to convey these opinions in a respectful manner. Again, RESPOND, not REACT.
- Smile, smile, smile: It could be a cliche to state that smiles brighten our days, but it’s only a cliche because it’s a fact! A smiling face seems warm, welcoming and approachable. A sourpuss is not going to win any fans, regardless of his or her talent (fortunately or unfortunately). Ultimately, a happy person keeps your clients happy, and when your clients are happy, everyone is happy! Happiness is a never-ending loop that blesses your clients and your business. So, smile and keep others smiling!
Well, these were only a few tips on how to maintain a good attitude while running a business. Some of them might sound repetitive, but, hopefully, you believe that all of them are critical to running a successful business. Always keep in mind this quote (unknown author): “Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything”
So maintain the right attitude and keep rocking! Your comments and thoughts are welcome and much-appreciated!!!
If for some reason you are not completely satisfied and we can’t resolve your concerns, we offer a return of up to 100% of one month’s fees.