Over the past few weeks I’ve had some interesting discussions about the value of client relationships. In particular as it relates to the service industry. Let me start by saying that I work hard and put in the time to earn the trust of my customers and those that refer business to me. So what’s puzzling to me is that without fail, when speaking to business owners and decision makers, I frequently hear:
“We just switched providers because we weren’t happy with…”
When I dig into this a bit more, I find out the gory details, everything from “they weren’t giving us the attention we needed” or “they’ve grown too big to handle our account” to “the work they did for us was sub-par”. As you can imagine, the complaints vary greatly.
The point is, considering the effort required to win the trust of a partner or relationship, why would you screw it up? No matter how small or large the project is, if you decide to take it on, commit to getting it done with the utmost professionalism and courtesy. If for some reason you can’t get it done, don’t take it on, be upfront and honest about it. That’s how you build trust.
I recently made a professional referral and was surprised at their response, declining the project. Looking back on it, I am thankful that they opted not to pursue the business and potentially not delivering. This would have made me look bad and I would never refer business to them again. By politely declining and explaining why, they increased my faith in the relationship and I will continue referring business to them.
On the flip side, there are scenarios where firing the client is the only option. Personally, I haven’t fired a client, yet, but I know a service provider who has. After some analysis, they realized that 25% of their clients were taking over 80% of their time without a proportionate financial reward. They opted to terminate some of these clients, even at the risk of tarnishing their reputation, I applaud their bold move.
At the end of the day, and the reason for this article, is that I am personally committed to doing the best that I can by my clients and relationships, building on the trust they’ve put in me and using that to grow my business. I view my clients and relationships as long term and key components of my growth strategy.
I’d love some feedback and to hear your thoughts on this subject matter. Hit me up on twitter or post a comment.
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Berkner Consulting provides C-suite Information Technology driven management consulting services. Our focus is to add value to the existing organization by providing an unbiased and honest perspective on existing and future technologies, processes and products.