I read an article recently that talked about a natural tendency to treat prospects differently than we do clients. It’s kind of like a new relationship – what my mom calls “love’s rose-colored glasses.”
When we first meet someone, our instinct to put all our best qualities upfront, and hide those we fear could be a deal breaker. Later in the relationship, our comfort level increases and more negative habits tend to surface. At the same time, it is feasible that some of our more positive habits begin to fade. The root of this progression is complacency.
Unfortunately, the same thing easily happens in business. When we start wooing a potential client, we are compelled to over-deliver on service. We promise to meet unreasonable deadlines, communicate abundantly and maybe even offer small gifts and tokens of appreciation. We dress our best, choose our words carefully and maintain a certain level of professionalism. All the time doing so, we are setting expectations of the experience of business with us.
After a prospect becomes a client, we relax. But over time, do we relax too much? Where does the real experience of doing business with us lie?
The ideal is probably somewhere in the middle. When you meet a prospective client, there is no reason to perpetuate an image that is not really you, or does not fairly represent your company. On the same note, you should treat all current customers with the same enthusiastic, eager-to-succeed service that you portray to prospects. It’s important to remember that new companies are introducing themselves to our customers every day. Complacency on your part is the surest way to allow a competitor to demonstrate more care for your client than you.
When is the last time you evaluated your relationships with your clients? Some questions to ask are:
- How often do we communicate with the client, and are we conscientious of how much they want to be communicated with?
- How often do we see the client, and is it more or less than they would like?
- When is the last time we thanked the client, and how did we do so?
- What things did we use to do for the client that we are not doing today? Would it be valuable to start doing these things again?
- What could someone else do for our client that we are not?
- When is the last time we demonstrated value to the client?
- What new ideas/industry research/referrals have we offered the client and how often are we doing so?
Resist the urge to over-sell yourself in a new relationship, and fight the complacency that comes with the old. A consistent experience will build more value and trust in those relationships, leading to greater longevity and loyalty.