Recently my one year old son had to undergo surgery. It was a serious procedure given his young age and the involvement of anesthesia. Needless to say my wife and I were nervous going in.
I saw a lot of parallels between this experience and with my professional life. Let me explain.
My role with Haley Marketing allows me the pleasure of working with new and long standing clients. I have found that the longest relationships had started off well from the start.
How well you treat your new client after the sale can shape the length and quality of the relationship. Not to mention the chance of getting coveted referrals. This is a simple concept but it can go against your natural instincts.
Is it not more exciting to go after the next shiny opportunity after you have closed the sale?
So, what did my son’s surgery teach me about the best ways to treat your new clients? Let us dive right in.
As I said before, my wife and I were nervous the morning of the procedure. Yes, we had heard great things about this surgeon and we had decided to go ahead with him. That did not mean we trusted him and that we no longer had any doubts.
The clear signs in the hospital lobby telling us exactly where to go were a big relief. This helped us find the waiting area we were suppose to be in. Shortly after finding the waiting area we were escorted to an administrator’s office. In there the administrator walked us through the details of our son’s operation. She shared with us that her grandson had been through it as well.
Your clients may have signed the dotted line but you have not yet delivered on what you promised. They still have lingering doubts about your capabilities, spoken or unspoken. Your client is hoping to trust you as your success is their success.
Start to relieve these doubts as soon as possible. Give your new client clear and precise directions on next steps to take. Set their expectation on what comes next. Clear direction alleviates doubt and build their confidence in you.
The administrator led us to another waiting area right outside the surgery unit. There the hospital had the standard magazines and a television playing a show on how to play soccer. What I appreciated the most was a separate screen which showed our expected wait time.
It was great not wondering how long we would have to wait there. We did not worry about missing anyone calling our name. This was important to us as I had to walk our son around the premises to distract him. My wife could keep an eye on our status in the queue and call me back in plenty of time for our turn.
There are time gaps from when your prospect becomes a client and the actual work begins. They of course would like their goal met yesterday.
Fill them in on why there appears to be a period of inactivity in the first place and let them know how long will be. Keep them informed where you can. It is easier to wait for an available table in a restaurant when you can see the staff cleaning your table.
We finally got called in and led through a maze of hallways until we arrived at our designated room. Everything in the room had a specific purpose in mind. This was further reinforced by the hospital gown the nursing staff handed to us and the terms she used.
This did not though deter the staff from making the room a little more personal and patient friendly. There was a kind message on a white board, colorful privacy curtains and a smile on everyone’s face.
When the nurse used a piece of equipment she always told us what it was for, how she was going to use it on our son and the result she expected to see.
We all use specialized tools in our professions to make our work easier and more efficient. What is mundane to your could be exotic and intimidating to your client. Remember this when you expose any part of your tools to your client.
Have a specific tool for setting appointments? Running reports? Preparing quotes? Tracking progress? Be clear on what they should expect to receive from you, how to best interact with it or interpret what they see. Remind them of how it will help you exceed their expectations.
Introduction to the Support Team
We had several people come in and out of our room. They were from both the nursing staff and the surgical support team. Each group had a lot of questions. Many of the questions overlapped. My wife and I appreciated it when the team would ask each other the common questions first. If they did not have an answer amongst themselves they would then ask us.
Their exchanges got us familiar with the terminology. Their humor was great to witness and infectious. They together helped entertain our son who had found himself in strange surroundings.
No one likes answering the same questions over and over again. Be transparent as you exchange information with your team. This will give your new client an opportunity to confirm details where necessary. It will also help your new client build familiarity with your team.
Let your client see how comfortable and confident you are with your team.
Meeting the Surgeon
It was finally time to meet the surgeon. We had favorable expectations due to our experience thus far.
When we met the surgeon he did several things:
- He welcomed us
- He laid out what he was going to do
- He spoke on our responsibilities post op for a speedy recovery
- He gave us space for questions and
- He promised to touch base again after the procedure.
I thought back on our encounter with the surgeon and concluded that he did not do much of note. There was nothing that was unique about our encounter.
The surgeon was not as warm or patient friendly as his support staff but by no means was he cold. I would say that he was efficient. This could have turned me off from him but it did not. This was in large part due to everything that had led up to our exchange with him. His team had built up credibility in their capabilities and trustworthiness.
Treating your client well from the beginning of the relationship builds up credibility. This credibility can serve as a layer of protection around this new relationship. This is as well transferable.
The quality of the experience your clients have with you plays a big part in how long their stay with you. Answer their spoken and unspoken doubts, be transparent and have a client friendly approach. This will help build trust and in turn credibility which will protect your relationship. All great parts of a long and referral worthy relationship.