Trust me. How many times have we heard those words? At one point in every person’s life we are asked to put our trust into something or someone. But why is it so important that we don’t just blindly throw ourselves over the cliff in hopes that the person will be there to catch us?
In this chapter or The Geek Leader’s Handbook, we covered the topic of Restoring Client Relationships. Client trust is something that every business, company, or person must have in order to build a relationship. But how exactly do we do that? Isn’t our outstanding technical skill a clear decision factor that makes the client want to work with us? Well, shockingly no. One of the key expectations that tend to be violated is excellent technical work. Turns out its better to have the clients trust you and have less excellent work than it is to have excellent work but no trust. After all, you wont jump off the bridge if you feel the person won’t catch you at the bottom.
This brings us back to our previous question. How do we build client relationships? According to McManus and Glen, there are eight essential steps to building the relationships between you and your clients.
Step 1. – Be Prepared
You need to know the outcomes of the possible problems that could arise with the clients and know how they should be addressed. The less surprise for the client the more likely they will be to feel secure and comfortable.
Step 2. – Get the Facts
The purpose of this step is to understand what the clients views on the situation are. What issues led to the problem? The key of this step is understanding, not solving.
Step 3. – Find the Feelings
Don’t freak out when you get a frustrated client coming to you complaining about the world and its problems. When clients complain they are trying to get two points across to you. The first is his/her point of view and the second is his/her feelings about it. How you figure out what the client is saying? Watch and listen, make a statement about the emotions then stay quiet about it, and ask what they are feeling. Many times they will tell you.
Step 4. – Let Them Know You Got It
Make sure you tell them you understand and list the facts surrounding the issue. At this point its like defusing a bomb. The better you understand the more they calm down.
Step 5. – Dispute the Facts
IF and only IF you have to question the facts make sure you do so politely and calmly. You do not want to throw things in the clients face especially at this point. A better solution would be to ask for time to analyze the situation and get back to them.
Step 6. – Frame the Problem
At this point you and the client are in agreement on the issues of the feelings and the situation. You then need to work towards an agreement on the meaning which frames the facts.
Step 7. – Handle the Feelings
This point is not about fixing the hurt feelings. It is more about handling them so you can work past it. Two ways to do this are with empathizing and apologizing. You can also, if its appropriate, ask if you can do anything for the client.
Step 8. – Handle the Problem
Now we’re ready to fix the problem. At this point you and the client have agreed, with a signed document, to work towards a solution. Just make sure you follow through with your agreement as there is little hope of restoring the relationship if you don’t.
As a client I know that companies that do not follow these eight steps usually tend to lose my trust. This is part of the reason I am not a huge fan of Apple products.
Back in the good old days of Steve Jobs and the legendary iPhone 4, I was an Apple fanatic. A super-fan you might say. However, I had some problems with the phone and its speakers when playing music. I had contacted the Apple support team and told them of the issue. I went in the store and after some discussion they eventually left me with two options. I could either use headphones or pay over $100 to get it fixed. Be aware I have had the phone for only one month and the phone had been in perfect condition minus the speakers. I don’t believe this is Apple’s fault but more the store’s fault than anything. However, the experience I have had has made me skeptical of their products and the relationship with the Apple store. Now compare this to my home retailer for my current smartphone the Samsung GS4. The only problem I have had was a similar one, but instead of the speakers it was the charging port. Little to say they had me a new GS4 in little under a week with no charge at all. I’ve been a customer of my home town retailer ever since.
To close this post I will leave with one of my favorite quotes as food for thought.
“Never say no when a client asks for something, even if it is the moon. You can always try, and anyhow there is plenty of time afterwards to explain that it was not possible” – Richard M. Nixon