“But all too often, we reverse that role. We place the responsibility of care, onto our clients.”
The 3 Essentials in Client Care, Part 1
Who’s Your Mama?
We all negotiate many different relationships in life. We have spouses, children and in-laws to deal with. We have intimate relationships and close friendships. We have colleagues, staff and, last but not least, clients. And, of course, the list goes on. For many of us though, there’s no other relationship in life quite like the relationship we have with our mothers. We can seemingly tell our mothers anything and they’ll still love us. No matter our problems, moms listen with understanding and, more often than not, they’re supportive. We can literally rain down crap on them, get exasperated, use our idiot-voice, and still – our moms love us. In short, when we’re miserable, they pat our little hand, give us a hug and send us off with a kiss. For many of us, it’s a special, one-of-a-kind relationship. That being said, I’m always puzzled when I see a small business owner mistake a client for their mama.
What Professionalism Is
There’s a term we talk about quite a bit in business coaching – it’s called professionalism. Many business owners rightly draw distinctions between themselves and certain sectors of their competition as regards their professionalism. So, we wanted to talk a bit about what that means. What is professionalism? As a small business owner, if you had to define “professionalism” in a short phrase or list, what would you say? Although I’m sure we’d all come up with an interesting list, the following phrase wouldn’t be on it:
“Professionalism is being a Cry Baby when it really matters.”
Granted, our jobs can be extremely challenging. Owners of small businesses are very involved in client care and clients need fulfillment. Likewise, clients run the gamut between pleasant and unpleasant. While they have legitimate needs, questions and concerns, clients can also be demanding, rude and confrontational. For the small business owner who’s wearing several hats while balancing all the responsibilities that come with having a personal life, business can be emotionally and physically challenging.
But here’s the point: while our jobs can be rife with emotion, problems and upset, we can’t be. If a client is upset with us, for whatever reason, we’re still responsible for their care – for addressing their concern. That’s because the word “professionalism” not only designates a certain level of training and ability, it describes an unwavering code of conduct.
“Professionalism is the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well.” – Merriam Webster
So what’s professional care when it comes to clients? If we’re doing it well, we’re displaying skill, good judgment and polite behavior. That’s our role as business owners. But all too often, we reverse that role. We place the responsibility of care, onto our clients. When that role-reversal happens it unleashes all manner of unintended mayhem upon our business. In fact, depending on your overall business model, it can quickly unravel your entire business. There’s lots of reasons why 90% of small businesses fail. Poor client care is number one on that list.
When we’re unprofessional and reverse these roles we lose clients. In fact, statistically speaking, we lose more than the client we didn’t care for – we lose their friends too – and sometimes their friend’s friends. That’s because people are more likely to share a bad experience than a good one. Right? With a good experience people are happy, fulfilled and satisfied – they just go about their life after a good experience with you. However, when you leave people with a bad experience, you leave them needing a sounding board to get everything off their chest. If you don’t address their needs, rest assured their friends and family will.
Be sure to share this article if you found it helpful and join us next week for part two of this series. We’ll learn how role-reversal happens and the costly consequence of that mistake.