One of the most common complaints I hear from business owners is this:
“I just don’t think i’m a priority for [name] – it seems like other projects/clients take precedence over my needs and I always fall to the bottom of the list…”
This of course leads to lots of frustration for the business owner, to the point where quite often they are looking to replace that person on their team.
And I have to admit that it makes me very sad to hear this! For the simple fact that I know it is not the intention of the VA, OBM, web designer or other support professional to make their clients feel this way.
In fact, this is usually a side effect of how busy we are – and quite often we are working so hard to juggle all the balls and try to get everything done that we forget how important it is to make our clients feel like a priority.
Let me say that again to make sure it hits home – your clients want (and need!) to FEEL like they are a priority. They want to feel like they are #1, even though they know that you have other clients and projects on the go.
So how do you make sure your clients know that they ARE a priority and that you are working hard on their behalf?
It’s simple really – keep in touch with them.
Sounds silly to say, but i’m honestly amazed at how few people do this and do it well. The simple act of keeping in touch with your clients to let them know what you are working on will make a huge difference.
A few specific things you can do:
- If it’s a quick little task, just reply to the email saying ‘this is done’. This is especially important in the earlier stages of working with a new client, where it is important to build the trust that can only happen when they see you completing tasks. This also lets the client cross things off their list, and not have to chase you down to ask ‘was this done?’ when in fact you did it a few days ago already.
- When a client sends you a bigger task or project, reply right away to let them know that you received the request and will get it done for X date. I’ve seen people hold off on replying to a new project request until they can actually get the project done or at least started. This could mean that the client could be waiting days or even longer before hearing from you on this request, and wondering if you even received the request at all? What is important here is to let your client know that you received the request in the first place so they aren’t left hanging. Even if you just say ‘hey sue, i’m not sure yet how long this will take me to do. let me look into it further and get back to you tomorrow with a timeline’.
- Update your client weekly on your list of various projects & to-dos. It doesn’t matter if you send them an email list each week or use an online project management tool (Central Desktop is my fav). It is really important to keep your clients updated each week on the status of everything you have on your plate. This also gives your client an opportunity to revise and shuffle priorities as needed once they see the ‘big picture’ of your project list.
- If you aren’t able to meet a promised deadline, let your client know right away! I’ve seen people use the ‘silent treatment’ when they fall behind on stuff, perhaps for fear of upsetting their client or having to let them down? The best thing you can do when falling behind is let your client know – maybe they can be flexible on the timeline and give you an extension. Or if need be they might want to pull someone else in to get the project done. Either way, if you don’t let them know you are more likely to upset them by *not* telling them and leaving them in a crunch vs. telling them and looking at alternative solutions (even if they are upset).
- Plan to talk weekly with any of your retainer based or long-term clients. Email is a wonderful thing and most of us use it as our main mode of communication. But nothing beats a live voice-to-voice talk as a way to stay connected to your clients. This is a great time to review your weekly project list, talk about upcoming goals and just enjoy some conversation about life in general. I would go so far as to say that it is almost impossible to really connect with a client and make them feel like a priority without a regular phone call.
This may feel like a bit much to some of you, but i’m a firm believer that over-communication is WAAAAY better than under-communication (or no communication at all!). If your client thinks it is a bit much to get all these emails from you they will let you know and you can ease off. (This will usually happen when you have established a strong foundation of trust with your client – you have proven that they are a priority and that you are getting things done.)
If need be set aside a few minutes in your day to do the above – first thing in the morning or right before you sign off is a good time. It may take a while to build the ‘communication habit’, but believe me when I say your clients will be thrilled!