One of the joys of running your own business is getting to know your clients and developing close customer relationships. One of the greatest aggravations is dealing with demanding clients who never seem satisfied with your work or the effort you make. To run a successful small company, you must figure out how to meet client demands but keep your sanity at the same time.
Some accounts require a bit more hand holding than others. Perhaps your clients aren’t tech savvy and need a step-by-step walkthrough. Others may be exacting and want things just so, insisting on absolute perfection in every phase of the project. Set some boundaries, while creating a customer-centric company culture to get and keep top clients. Here’s how to meet client demands without burning out.
1. Improve Communication
CSGS’s State of the Customer Experience 2023 report indicated that while consumers are embracing new technologies, there is still room for face-to-face, real life interactions. Around 66% of participants said they wanted to attend a ball game in person rather than in the metaverse, but they were open to interacting on their phones at the same time.
Businesses should pay attention to this trend and figure out how to reach out with real-time events and telephone conversations but follow-up via text or an app. Look into customer complaints to figure out where miscommunication happened in the past and how to fix it now.
2. Learn the Power of “No”
You’ve probably heard people say that the word “no” is a complete sentence. However, when you’re speaking to clients, you can’t just say one syllable words and expect them to understand. You have to educate them on the limitations of what you do and the scope of the project.
The client demands that seem unreasonable to you may seem perfectly reasonable to them. Perhaps they don’t realize how many man hours it takes to keep changing little details, for example.
You can soften your no with the language you use. “I’m sorry, but that isn’t possible because we only alot X hours to this type of project scope and there won’t be enough time to focus on that right now.”
3. Plan the Milestones of the Project
When you lay out the important aspects of a project, you ensure you don’t forget anything crucial. Your client can also see the progress you make as you check off milestones. Use each point to communicate with your customers and get their input so work doesn’t go too far off the rails before being set straight again.
Another perk of creating milestones is that anyone on your team or outsourced people can hop on and add to the files and finish various tasks. They’ll see at a glance what needs completed and when. Tools such as Asana, Trello and Monday allow you to assign bits of work and mark things as they’re finished.
4. Automate Tasks
For excellent customer relationship management (CRM), tap into automated tools that will reach out to your customers for you. You’ll meet client demands for communication without eating into precious time you can use on more creative endeavors.
Choosing the right CRM software is a crucial component to building a successful and lasting business relationship with your clients. If they feel overlooked, they’re likely to go elsewhere. Show them you see them and understand their needs without putting in more time than you already are.
5. Know When to Outsource
The last thing you want is to lose a top client because you don’t have the time to meet their needs. If you run a small operation, you can still focus on your top clients by outsourcing some of the grunt work to others.
Hire a virtual assistant to keep the books or create emails and newsletters. Push graphic design work to freelancers. Hire a marketing guru to take over your social media presence. The more menial tasks you delegate, the more time leaders have to devote to getting to know and schmoozing clients.
Imagine how much more time you could spend calling clients if you had someone handling emails with canned answers, for example.
6. Keep Current Customers
Focusing on customer retention increases profits as much as 95% and builds momentum in your company. If you constantly bleed clients, you’ll spend all of your time seeking new ones. On the other hand, if your patrons are loyal and send referrals to you, you’ll grow exponentially.
Some of your customers may be your biggest cheerleaders. These are the folks who’ve been with you since the beginning days of your company. They tell other people about what you do, they celebrate when you find success and they only demand what is fair in return.
Your cornerstone clients are the ones you’ll build your business on, so give them what they want to keep them on your rolls. Bend over backwards the few times they have an additional client demand.
7. Learn When to Part Ways
While meeting client demands helps your company grow and builds up your customer database, know when it’s time to part ways with a client. No one on your team should ever have to suffer abusive language from anyone.
Set a standard ahead of time of what you won’t accept and if you allow a couple of chances in case the person is going through something. Know how to fire clients firmly but politely. Some phrases you can try:
“We can no longer meet your needs as a customer but we wish you the best in the future.”
“At the end of our contract, we won’t be renewing. We feel you aren’t very happy with our services and we strive to ensure all our customers are thrilled with the products and services they receive. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out but we thank you for giving us a chance.”
With truly abusive customers, they may try to argue with you. Don’t waste energy on this. Have a canned response where you state something like that the decision is final.
Should You Meet Client Demands?
When client demands are reasonable, you should do everything in your power to meet and exceed their expectations. However, there are some instances where the asks are unreasonable or so frequent that the customer/business relationship becomes completely unprofitable.
If you lose a valuable employee over a client’s abuse or you find one person takes up two-thirds of your day, it’s probably time to reevaluate if they’re the type of customer you want. With a focus on excellence, you’ll keep the majority of your clients happy. With time, you’ll narrow down your list to the types of people you want to work with and your company will thrive because of your courage to let the wrong matches go.