Column: Treat your clients like valued members of your network
Image by Greg Peters | Contributor
I've written before about the fact that your clients are a great place to start your networking. Making friends out of them can go a long way toward building a successful web of connections for your business.
That being said, customer service (or whatever name you might use for the process of reaching out to help your clients) becomes a form of networking. Do it right and you will get their love and respect (and referrals); do it wrong and you not only lose their future business, but also that of just about anyone they talk with.
I encountered an example of the latter recently. It's not completely egregious, but it definitely caught my attention.
Not long ago, Lisa and I switched insurance providers. I won't go into the details of why or who, but suffice it to say that there were enough issues that it became worth our while.
Not long after we switched to the new provider, we got a lovely letter from them that went something like:
Thank you for providing us with an opportunity to serve your insurance needs. We appreciate your business!
This letter of introduction is to provide you with information regarding customer service with our company...
I pretty much stopped reading at this point. Why? Because the form of the letter, or should I say, "form letter," didn't even have our name on it. I'm sure that they weren't being intentionally ironic, but what these few lines at the beginning of the letter told me about their customer service is that we should count ourselves lucky if they treat us as a nameless, faceless account.
The letter wasn't even signed by anybody, just by the company as a whole.
Now, I'm sure that this company will give us the personalized attention that we would prefer. I'm sure they have individual account representatives who personally care for each and every one of the individuals who've signed up with them. I'm sure we'll never be put on hold for hours on end in order to ask the simplest questions about our coverage, because I'm sure they cherish each and every one of their clients as valued and important members of a larger community.
So, while I approach my family's future health care with a touch of trepidation, I think I also need to look at all of my business systems. I want every interaction with my clients to tell them that they are definitely valued members of my network and that I hope they gain as much from their association with me as I do from them.
How about you? Are there any areas of your business which might be putting the chill on relationships with customers and clients?