7 Ways To Exceed Client’s Expectations
Competition is a brutal reality when it comes to getting and keeping clients. In practically any profession you can imagine, there are plenty of others in your city or town that prospective customers can go to. This is why it helps to have a list of things you can do to make yourself stick out from the crowd. These are actions that can turn customers into repeat customers and, if you’re really good at exceeding their expectations, perhaps even bring you new clients in the form of referrals. The following are seven things that you should try to do above and beyond any minimal expectations to maximize the chances for additional business from each client.
1. Complete Work Earlier Than the Client is Expecting
An early step in any job or project that you have to do for a new client is to set up realistic expectations for how long it is going to take. When estimating this, say that it will take a little more time than required. Doing this has two benefits.
The first benefit is that something may come up in your life such as an emergency or an illness or some other unexpected thing. In other words, you may actually end up needing any extra time you tell them it will take. This helps to ensure that you do not make a negative impression by it taking longer than you said it would.
The best possible benefit of doing this, though, is that you will typically get the job done earlier than you told the client. This is a highly visible way that you will be exceeding expectations, and it makes any client pleased with your performance assuming the job is done well. One consideration is to make sure you don’t add too much time to your estimate. If they think you’ll take too long to get the job done, they may seek the services of a competitor.
2. Ask Enough Questions to Ensure You Understand Exactly What the Client Wants
When starting a job for a client, you need to strike a balance between finding out what they specifically need you to do for them while not bothering them constantly with questions. This is typically handled by having a process at the start of all new jobs where you will have a good idea of what you’ll need to ask in order to get sufficient information from the client.
If you are in doubt about something along the way, however, it is better to ask than to be sorry later on. The client is likely to quickly forget a few additional questions along the way, but they will remember a project that is completely screwed up because you failed to get clarification on a crucial matter.
3. Be Polite and Show Interest in Their Project and Concerns
Being polite and showing an interest in client concerns should be obvious in any business. That said, many companies and contractors do not place enough emphasis on this. Customer satisfaction surveys have shown that people are willing to put up with a few bumps in the road, as far as a project taking a little longer than anticipated, as long as they receive excellent customer service.
Despite this, most companies mainly emphasize the speed with which they can get a job done. As mentioned in the first tip, delivering service quickly is important. However, this cannot be done at the expense of showing your customers respect and handling any of their concerns promptly.
4. Be Accessible to Your Clients
Some of us have had the unfortunate experience of hiring a contractor and then not having them show up for days on end and not being able to reach them to find out what’s going on. In our connected, modern world where practically everyone has a smartphone, there’s little excuse for not making it easy for customers to stay in touch with you.
While we are all allowed down time for our private lives, make sure to set up regular hours in which you are available for business matters. Give clients a couple ways to reach you, such as a phone number and an e-mail address, during your business hours.
5. Be Honest About and Accountable for Any Mistakes You Make
It is a fact of life that mistakes happen. If you make one while doing work for a client, do not try to cover it up or blame someone else. The truth will probably come out eventually, and when it does, you can kiss your reputation goodbye. Owning up to any mistakes and offering to make up for them in some way will show them that you are willing to take personal responsibility and only serves to boost their opinion of you.
6. Throw in Additional Benefits
This one is related to finishing a job earlier than promised. Clients love when that happens. They also love getting more than originally promised. What this extra benefit would be is somewhat dependent on your exact industry or field. It may be as simple as a coupon for a discount for the next time they need your services. You should give some thought to coming up with two or three extras that you can give a client at the end of a completed job or project to serve as icing on the cake for their total customer experience with you.
7. Follow Up Is Critical
It is tempting after completing a job for a given client to move on and not give them another thought. This is a big mistake. There is no bigger potential source of new work and money than those satisfied clients we have already done work for. This can come in the form of them hiring us again or referring us to others.
What exact form of following up you do, as it relates to the job you completed, may depend on your specific field of work. There are basic steps you can take, however, such as sending them a card on holidays you know they celebrate and sending a postcard about your services. Both of these serve to keep you on their mind just in case they may need more work done or know someone who does.