Working with a new client can be similar to dating. You’re still learning about the other person and eyeing them from across the table, wondering. Do they chew with their mouth open? Do they prefer dessert before dinner? Or do they always pass on dessert? It is the same with a new client who doesn’t know how you operate. You may not know a new client’s work style either. Do they prefer emailed updates? Phone calls? How often? According to Lynnette Leathers, President of Mindspot Research and Business Solutions, communication is key when you are working with a new client.
In fact, she recommends over-communicating. An already established client has confidence in you and may not need constant updates on the state of their project. When dealing with a new client it is your company’s opportunity to prove to the new client that they have made the right decision. “Every new project is a job interview,” says Lynnette. She’d prefer to keep a company up-to-date so when a boss asks an employee about the status of the project they know the answer without having to run and ask. Updating a client during each important step of a project is reassuring and it sets them up for success.
Speaking of mistakes, always fess up. If you’ve made a mistake don’t lie, don’t try to cover it up. Honesty is the best policy. Everyone is human and mistakes can happen. What matters is how you deal with them. At Mindspot if a mistake is ever made we immediately address it and let the client know. Almost any mistake can be corrected quickly. “It is how you handle the situation that builds trust,” Lynnette reminds me. If you take care of the issue in real-time, it will make an impression.
Sometimes an added bonus can be an extra incentive. A company is paying you to meet their needs, but who is to say everything has to be about money? Add value to yourself and your company. Be willing to be a free consultant. If a client calls Mindspot with questions about research or how to solve a business challenge—we have no problem giving them valuable advice. The beauty of it is—it’s free. If you deliver what you promise your client will want to work with you again, it’s really that simple.
Of course, delivering what you promise isn’t the only means of getting return business, attitude is. You’ve heard the saying again and again. Have a good attitude. When you got your first job at a restaurant, in retail, or even washing cars over the summer, the one thing you always learned was to be friendly and smile when dealing with a customer. This will never go out of fashion. You can deliver exactly what you promised and a client may decide not to work with you again if you were negative, pushy or difficult. You can only get so far with a prickly exterior.
I know it may be difficult. You could be having a terrible day. Your dog peed on the carpet and your son may have glued another boy’s face to a desk at school. Who knows, but again, enthusiasm and communication will keep them coming back. Cue the smile.