Monday, February 28, 2011

Tips for Strategic Customer Service

The business of business can be tricky. If you want to effectively manage your client relationships, you really have to be proactive at all times. Sitting back and allowing events to unfold results in chaos. And chaos in business can happen quickly and without notice. Really it's about being a true leader and effective project manager to build productive client relationships. Here are some helpful tips to make you a better business person and project manager.

Get out ahead of your clients not behind them -- always be thinking like your client thinks. Consider what could become a problem if left to fester unattended. The best way to figure out what lies ahead is to look at what came before. This means if you had a past problem chances are it could become a future problem. So, solve it before it has a chance to happen. For example, if an account manager was not servicing her clients well in the past and problems popped up, chances are if the manager is still on the job and has not received training, these same problems are likely to arise again until that manager has changed her ways. Put a contingency plan in place and execute it. When you get out ahead of problems, they don't have a chance to become a problem. You nipped them.

Be responsive around the clock -- put a system in place that enables you to be a responsive manager. Don't ignore phone calls, emails or texts. Client management means meeting your client's needs. When you ignore them, they don't feel important, and that in and of itself, can cause problems. Neglected clients don't have high praise, and that can hurt your business' reputation. Word of mouth can go both ways -- positive or negative.

Be a good listener -- clients want to be heard. If you have the need to be right and take a defensive stand with your clients, all they really want is to be heard and acknowledged. Who's right doesn't matter in the big picture. And besides, the customer is always right anyway. Error on the side that they're right and how can you serve them better. Also, just sit and listen and let them express their feelings. Don't interrupt them. Just be a good listener. You'll find that once they've "vented" their frustrations, it diffuses the situation, and you can move on.

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