If you are in a service business providing services to clients more than likely your clients have the relationship with you and not necessarily the firm you represent. People will always do business with people that they feel good about and trust.
As a professional service provider, you are a brand. You probably operate in a highly competitive environment with many competitors all around you. So why will a client do business with you as opposed to those rest of the”thundering herd”? Doing excellent work merely gets you to the starting line. In most cases, clients will choose a service provider that they feel clearly understands their issues and has the ability to supply not only the solutions to those issues but more importantly, will take care of them no matter what circumstances arise.
If you think about it, don’t we all want someone who cares and makes us feel special? Whether we are dining at a nice restaurant, engaging a lawyer to handle a difficult legal issue or working with our accountant to get our tax returns completed we want to feel special and to feel good about the experience. The only way for that to happen is for the service provider to take an active role in making sure that we not only receive what we bargained for but, that the service was provided in a special way for us without any surprises.
So how can you position yourself as a quality brand? First, make sure that you always do your best work for each and every client. That tenet is never compromised. Second, be very clear on who your market is and more importantly, the market segment in which your services and resources are properly matched. Third, be very active in staying on top of the issues that impact your clients and potential clients in which you serve. Fourth, take an active role within that community by getting involved in industry related organizations. Fifth, work diligently to understand each of your clients and what their personal needs are relative to the services that you provide. Sixth, communicate clearly and often with your clients to make sure that they are comfortable with the services being provided. The absolute worst situation is to surprise a client with bad news because of a lack of communication. Communication can overcome many obstacles. Lack of communication sends a message that you do not care or that the relationship is not special.
The personal relationship that a service provider has with a client will determine whether that client remains a client in the tough times. If the client does not believe that you are looking out for their best interests and that you are not treating them as special, that client may move on when the slightest issue arises. Those issues could include rate increases, fee increases for your services or potentially worse, negative market forces impacting on your firm. Conversely, if the relationship is strong your client will overlook these issues (within reason) and remain loyal to you.
A case in point was illustrated in a recent article in Businessweek involving the Bear Stearns debacle. One of the top brokers, Doug Sharon, immediately resigned and sought refuge with Morgan Stanley in order to protect his clients and their assets. To Mr. Sharon and his clients this was a crisis of epic proportions. Many of Mr. Sharon’s clients remained loyal to him because they were struck by his coolness during such a difficult period. One client indicated that a competing brokerage firm tried to get him to leave Mr. Sharon and Bear but that he decided to stay with Mr. Sharon because he “handled an uncertain and tumultuous period at Bear Stearns extremely well…He often reminded me of the sanctity and security of my funds”. The client has now moved his account to Morgan Stanley because of Mr. Sharon. In doing so, he stated “Now I am with Morgan Stanley. But really I am with Doug Sharon”
Building yourself into a quality brand is good business. What about you? Are you a brand that your clients will stay with not only in the good times but in the more difficult times as well? Review all of your clients and their needs and make sure that you are on track with each of them. Every time you meet with them ask them how you can improve the relationship to give them the best possible service to meet their needs. In all probability they will not be able to come up with anything but they will appreciate that you care and want to give them the very best.
Write Your Comments