If you read a recent post I did on business roles, you’ll know I took the decision recently to expand my business. Well so far it’s going really well and the new clients I have taken in since then I am currently counting on 2 hands with lots of amazing potential clients in the pipeline – it feels really good. On a side-note the reason I have been able to expand this way is a new style of marketing technique I have perfected after a lot of trial and error, which I’m going to be exclusively revealing in step-by-step, ‘paint by numbers’ type instructions on how you can do it too in my new programme, “The VA Shoestring”.
Onto the topic of this post!
So, I wanted to share with you guys the type of feedback I am getting from these clients, and how I get this feedback. This just came in today from an amazing guy I am really enjoying working with, just so you guys know, Dale who this client mentions in his email is my Content and SEO Manager:
“Michelle, aside from my usual appreciation of the content of what you’ve sent me, I just wanted to say that as you know I specialise in working with top performing teams and my fascination over the years has been with their energy and all that they give out, and of course what the CEO in particular gives out – and before I even started email exchanges with Dale I just KNEW, when I landed on your website, that I had found somewhere really special. The two of you really, really are a class act and I count myself very lucky indeed to have found you. So thank you so much – I only spoke to you 7 days ago and already feel I’ve known you for YEARS!
Whatever we go for, however, I know how much our work will benefit from your and Dale’s energies and those of the team you’ve created around you.
Thanks again – your client management skills are awesome and in your own way you remind me of WHY I love the work I do and the moments I have when life leads me to work with exceptional leaders.”
I almost cried – anyway, this really got me thinking about why this client considers my service exceptional, and here are my top 5 tips which lead to feedback such as this.
#1 Step Into The Client’s Shoes
You always put yourself in the shoes of the client, and you say, “If I was the client, what is the absolute most amazing customer service scenario I could ever wish to receive?” – and with every email, every assignment, every task (no matter how large or small) I give the most amazing, thoughtful, useful, responsive result I can think of receiving myself. Try and aim to treat each and every client as if they’re your only client.
#2 Never Drop The Ball
I don’t ever ‘farm out’ work – ever. I have nothing against taking in a client and then having that client work with one or more members of my team to produce a desired result, but what I never do is hand-over to just anyone in a ‘you’ll do’ situation where I have no idea what’s happening from one day to the next – the clients are always under my radar in their project management space and ALL correspondence is communal (never direct email to email with my team), so I and the rest of the team can see exactly what’s going on, and I then work together with my team to produce the desired result. Many times I’ve been asked, “How much does one or your VA’s cost?” – whilst this may be a natural assumption that I give someone a VA in exchange for money and then say “goodbye and good luck” – I don’t, the people on my team are not for sale – my services are for sale, and I control how they are delivered. I learn the client, I learn their business and then strategically I put the right department managers and team members on the case, based on my experience. This is not a farm, it’s a professional organisation, with real people, providing outstanding services in their own fields of expertise.
I will say on another note that don’t ever be scared to introduce people in your business to your clients, I know from experience we have this fear of hiring and delegating client work, or not knowing if we should reveal whether we are doing it ourselves or not – well transparency has always worked very well for me, and as the saying goes, 2 heads are better than 1. I don’t claim to be an expert in everything, but I do hire experts on the things I don’t know about, and I always suggest to the client that they should talk it through with that person if I know they can give better advice than I can on a certain subject (like content and SEO for example!), and that gives my business a real boost, because I have my clients’ best interests at heart and they know it.
#3 Care – Genuinely
I know I would not be able to sleep at night if I didn’t give my all every day in Virtual Miss Friday – the reason is that I genuinely do care about the clients’ business – which is actually a totally selfish act. I want them to stay with me long term, I want them to love working with me and my team, I want them to feel safe, secure, well looked after – and yes, I want all this because (going back to my first point, that’s how I would like to feel in their shoes) and secondly I don’t want them to leave or feel like they could do better elsewhere.
#4 Periodic Review
Periodically I check out my clients’ business by giving them a little ‘behind the scenes’ review. By doing this I have the potential to secure further business and also to improve their business, it’s a win-win situation, and if you have any clients, past or present who you have not looked upon recently with fresh eyes, as if this was the first time you were ever looking at their business, then do it!
People change, your services will evolve, your skills will improve, you’ll be a more skilled and experienced VA now than you were 6 months ago, what you suggested last year, may now be outdated and you can suggest something better. Your client may have added a new product range or set of services, you may know of a smart technique to market them, or provide customer support for them. Things change constantly and by taking time to review your clients’ business periodically, you’re showing a great deal of initiative, and providing additional value to the client, and potentially securing more business.
#5 Remain Impartial
This is always my best piece of advice I can give anyone in business. In our online world, we work with a variety of people, I personally work directly with people across 6 continents and within that are a colourful mix of languages, cultures, backgrounds, education, careers, characters and styles of doing business. The one staple that keeps me able to manage such an array of people is my impartiality. I have to admit, for the majority of the time now I choose my clients, and who I want to work with, and over time I have learnt the type of characters of people I mix well with. But that doesn’t mean to say I ALWAYS get it right, because I don’t. You’ll come across anger, fear, know-it-alls, worriers and quite frankly some people who make you want to swear at them, but no matter what, the way to handle these people is to not respond emotionally, but impartially.
Take a breath and deal with the situation as best you can – always providing a cool, calm exterior will not feed their emotions, by not engaging in their emotion it will either frustrate them to no end, and they’ll just leave (or you’ll politely explain that you will no longer be working with them) or it will bring out a better side of them and you can rationally resolve the situation. Those in my opinion are the best possible outcomes to difficult clients.
So there you have it! It also goes without saying that it doesn’t hurt to really love what you do. That’s the greatest reward of all, and fantastic client feedback is simply icing on that “I love what I do” cake.