There’s no staff or boss around to say — hey, nice job. It’s all you. So it’s important to remember those times when your client has given you a gem of a compliment.
Put those gems in a mental safe. They’re like diamonds.
But every once in a while — take them out and hold them in your hand. See how they shine… (Wait. I’m drifting into an Art Garfunkle moment… This is not “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”)
I’ve got my own gems and they’re out of the safe right now. (Ooo!Sparkly!) I thought I’d share a few and talk about why they keep me on track to do the best I can every day. And maybe you’d like to share a few of yours. We may find some lessons here.
“You make everyone who comes in here feel so good about themselves.”
1. Before I went out on my own, I worked for Manpower, the staffing service, as a recruiter. This meant being “posted” in a satellite office that I called “The Fort” for its sometimes Wild West feeling. The office was in a former Catholic grammar school building and was the only for-profit business in a building full of non-profit services. So you never knew who was going to walk in the door looking for a job (or diapers — not everyone got that we weren’t a charity). Most of the jobs I interviewed for were industrial. But no matter who walked in, I always treated them with respect and interest. And a smile.
I had a young advertising sales rep that dropped by regularly to discuss the week’s ad (I created the ads on the side at first, then was brought to the main office to do advertising full time). Often our pow-wows were interrupted by someone coming in to be interviewed, so he’d sit and wait, watching. One day, out of the blue, he told me how good I made people feel, no matter what happened.
Seeing the best in people goes a long way. Success is about the ability to build good relationships, no matter where people are on a ladder.
“I know I can trust you.”
2. What a gem this is! Recently, in one week, I had three different clients tell me they trusted me — for my advice, to get the job done, to make a decision on a project.
The trust of a client is a precious thing. The only way you can gain it is to stick to your ethics no matter what. Do what you say you’ll do. Be honest. Be brave — sometimes you have to say what the client doesn’t want to hear. (Constructive criticism, given in their best interest, is not always an easy delivery.) One client needed advice on creating his first website as a sole proprietor. Because I’d always been honest with him in the past, whether it was personal or professional, he felt safe asking my guidance on this vital piece of his new marketing. Another client has worked with me for years — and told me to go ahead and invoice him on a project that I was still working on. It worked for his budget to pay me in full — there was no question in his mind that he’d get his money’s worth and more.
How do you put a price on trust in your business? You don’t. It’s priceless.
“That’s what I love about people like you.”
3. Client Love. We all want it. But we’re never sure we have it until someone actually comes out with those magic words. If they do, snatch them up and put them in the safe. Use them to warm yourself on those cold days when it feels like no one knows you’re alive (like a day with no Mentions or Retweets on Twitter).
I was in a meeting recently with a sales and marketing manager. I’m working on a project to create content for a new niche web page and corresponding rack card. The sales and marketing manager isn’t my client, but I met with her to ask her input on what would be most valuable to her niche — at the l request of my client. The manager is my client’s client. He wants her to feel confident that he’s made her concerns a priority. As she became engaged in my process, she got enthusiastic. “That’s what I love about people like you,” she said. “You’re the person who gets things done.“
Client Love is not just about your skills. It’s about your strengths and the way you use them to make life better for the client. Kind of like a Super Hero.
“Thank God Marci’s coming to meet today!” and also … “I always read your emails first.”
4. Now these are the ultimate in Client Love! Walking into a client’s site — or showing up on the email in-box — and knowing it brightens someone’s day is… well, it’s just superb. (I would say “awesome” but that’s so overused. Except it is. Awesome.)
I worked with the administrator of a large county long-term care facility on a brand-new marketing effort funded by a private donor, since the county administrators neither could nor would promote the home, which was a leader in the state and at the forefront of a new way of thinking about senior living. The administrator’s days were filled with staff ups & downs, adversarial politics, and long, long work days. I loved working with her and the donor, who was like the ultimate fairy godfather. Our meetings always brought her progress and positivity, and a lot of laughs. And great cookies from their in-house cafe.
She told me that on her tough days, the thought that I was going to walk in for our meeting was the brightest spot on her calendar.
The remark about my emails came from my magazine editor. We mostly communicate by email, so mine are written like I’m sitting in his office, talking — discussions about stories, bullet points, anecdotes, and occasional silliness. But we get the job done. Even though my emails might be long-ish, he sees them as a break. You know, like I’ve popped in his office. People normally complain about their emails. So knowing my emails stand out in his crush — well, I feel all fluffed-up in my feathers.
Hey– we’re back to relationships again! What the business world needs is love, sweet love. Or exceptional People Skills. Never discount what a smile does in a working person’s day: in person, on the phone, or on the page.
Take a moment to get out your gems and let them sparkle. You have them, I know you do. Polish them up if they need it. Don’t be afraid to share them, either. Put them on your website as endorsements. You’ve earned them.
I’d love to hear the best things ever said to you in business. Don’t be shy.