No, we’re not talking about the “woo-woo, give me a hug” kind of love you’d experience with family and friends. That’s just too easy. We’re talking about the tough love that comes from clients, employers and professionals who you work with on a daily basis.
Happy clients that love you tend to show their appreciation as a result of you:
- Helping their organization make money
- Making their day-to-day run smoother
- Taking on a leadership role that helps them manage a team or department
- Bringing on additional value to the table such as leadership or insight
- Pouring endless hours of sweat into a project or initiative
- Being a team player or just being likable
But … not all clients that love you will show their appreciation. Then, when you least expect it, a client will say, “Great job! I love that you’re on our team.” Vindication, right?!
In order to set yourself up for success, consider refining the below five skills and hopefully you will gain the recognition, support and accolades that comes with all your hard work.
Clients are often frustrated with something in their day to day, whether be it their computer, the IT department, a certain coworker or maybe because someone took the last Almond Joy out of the food closet and they felt they were the one who really deserved it.
Sometimes people bring baggage from another meeting that did not go their way, and you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when the venting starts. But if you put your own frustration aside and listen to what your customer is saying and read their body language, you’ll realize they are actually communicating with you.
That’s your cue to listen. Take notes – mentally or with a notepad. This sends a signal to that person that you are serious and they are being taken seriously. Most importantly, don’t talk. Read between the lines and find out what they need or want. Then when they’re ready, show how you’ve been listening by rehashing what they said and offer your assistance.
Some people will complain all the time and never be happy with whatever you produce, while others simply cannot express what they want. But you can score huge brownie points if you help them formulate a plan or walk away with a positive sentiment.
Communicate on Their Level
There is no need to write about the importance of communicating. However, what needs to be called out is whether your communication is making sense to the recipient. Is it landing well? Did you frame your statement or question correctly? Was your question long?
Each person communicates differently and you have to know what type each person is. The four types of communicators are (in a nut shell):
Very busy, high level folks like CEOs, stockbrokers, lawyers and politicians. They respond to a 3 paragraph email with “Sounds good” because they make a million decisions each day. They are minimalists and emotionless about business, so you should communicate accordingly. Stop in their office, call/text or even do charades. Whatever is quickest.
Casual, straightforward professionals like teachers, human resources, nurses and social workers. Built on consensus, they are calm, helpful and people-oriented. Be specific but allow them enough time to think over their response. Show respect, speak softly and be sincere in your delivery. They will do their best to accommodate.
Bright personalities like sales people, marketers, public relations and trial lawyers. They are highly sociable, creative, imaginative and very personable. They often need incentive, welcome challenges and not afraid of taking risks. Ask their opinion and appeal to their optimism and strengths.
Conservative people like accountants, secretaries, engineers and scientists. Organized, critical thinkers who focus on precision and problem solving. Pessimistic, not very social but appreciate a well-thought out email or analytical assessment of the situation. Be prepared to answer questions and offer alternatives.
If you can roughly identify what type of person you’re talking to and communicate accordingly, you will add a lot of value. NOTE: Keep in mind some people can switch roles or fit multiple types, depending on the subject and setting. Good luck!
For Clients to Love You, Empathize Sincerely
You are not able to solve all problems that come your way, nor should you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help others. If you show understanding and compassion towards a customer, they will value the relationship. Granted, you’re in a professional setting, but at the end of the day we’re all human beings and a personal touch goes a long way in establishing that positive synergy.
When people complain it often stems from issues in their personal life. They often try to express their frustration for things that are beyond their control, but don’t mean to take it out on you (although it may seem like that sometimes). You can add real value by understanding their pain and looking at the situation objectively instead of letting it affect you negatively.
Make it all about them. You’ll love the results! It may not involve coming up with a solution, but relating to them in some way or telling them how you coped with something similar in the past could really help them.
Next time you’re in a situation like this, be it a meeting or by the water cooler, try to weed out the noise and sympathize. Next time they have a work issue or any problem for that matter, they will know you have more to offer than just the role you were hired for.
Customers don’t always expect you to be successful but they do expect honesty and accountability for your failures. If you’re truthful and straightforward about your successes, failures and minor setbacks, they will start to develop a trusting relationships with you.
If you’ve made a mistake, there is no harm in admitting it. If you don’t admit, the customer is likely not to going rely on you in the future. Honesty is always the best policy and accountability is the root of leadership. No one likes a liar or someone who blames others for any mishaps that might occur.
Own it. Fix it. Move on.
For example, one of our Business Analysts was testing a job recently. She accidentally ran step 4 before step 2 and the wrong data was uploaded to the customer’s website. The customer promptly sent an email that something was amiss. When she tried troubleshooting the issue, she discovered that she made the mistake. After some deliberation she sent out an email saying it was her mistake and would rerun the job.
Later in a meeting, her client said he valued the integrity she showed and appreciated the way she handled it. Thus a solid relationship was forged built on respect and integrity, which had a positive impact on her career later. Her career! That’s right. Something as small as that opens the doors for leadership roles, promotions and managing younger teams that may need a mentor in honesty and accountability.
Integrity lies in what you believe. Don’t be afraid to show it. What will result are clients that love you.
Be Personable, Genuine
Alright, forget business and your work duties for a second. You’re past that now. So far you’ve listened intently, communicated effectively, empathized with them and showed integrity. Now get to know your client on a personal level.
If you want clients to love you, try asking them about their family, their kids, the favorite hobbies, where they like to travel. After spending 36 straight hours trying to meet a deadline, insist that you both go out for a well-deserved sit down lunch or a drink after work. This will showcase that you believe in a work life balance and that your personal values are just as important (and valuable) as your corporate values and work ethic. Besides, business can and should be fun.
This part is #5 on the list because it takes the longest to achieve. It is also a point of anxiety for most people because they don’t know when it’s okay to cross that line. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with a little conversation after you’ve kicked butt in your job. You’ll know when it’s the right time. Just follow your gut.
Don’t be afraid to show little glimpses of who you are and what you believe. Showing some character, genuineness and depth. Your ability to relax and socialize will allow you to show what other skills, passions and interests you have. Who knows, maybe it will open doors you never thought were there.
There you have it!
Try doing these 5 things more — not just with your clients but with your supervisors and colleagues too — and embrace who you are. You’ll be amazed at the amount of control you have over your own future when your clients love you. Good luck!
Co-authored by Radhika Naphade, Engagement Manager at Axis Technical Group.