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Commentary by Stuart Crawford

RISMEDIA, Jan. 23, 2008-Is excellent client service at an all-time low? Just take a look around today’s high-paced, low-loyalty and skilled-labor-shortage economy, and you’ll see that the level of client service is quickly diminishing. But does it have to be this way? Maybe if people just slowed down, they’d be able to focus on your needs.

There is a wealth of potential clients out there ready to invest in your service; all you need to do is provide quality service because it seems as though nobody else will. This is a simple philosophy that will immediately add to your overall bottom line this year. Those professionals that can service clients and impress them will have repeat business and see an immediate increase in the average dollar per transaction over those that do not provide excellent client service.

While it sounds so simple, many businesses in today’s global economy fail to follow this simple rule. Client satisfaction has been my overall number one priority since the first day I went into business for myself. I question myself daily with one simple question that keeps me focused-what do I need to do today to impress my clients? This one question will provide you with winning formula to success in any industry.

So what are some of the steps to impressing your clients?

1. Loyalty – If you want loyalty from your clients, it starts with loyalty from you. If you can help your client’s business, they will help you. Many of us have numerous clients, but, how many of us stop and think how we can help them. Introduce clients to each other, network with them; or invite them to seminars that you attend. Show that you care about their success and in turn they will care about your success.

2. Educate – Clients do not like being sold to. However, they love to invest when they feel that it has value or makes life easier for them. Instead of selling to them, educate them and then ask them if they would like to invest in a home. Words like buy, purchase, spend, cost are not in my vocabulary when dealing with clients. Instead, use words like proposal, numbers, benefit, invest, etc. to win the business of your clients. When you focus on educating instead of selling to them, you win in the long run. You must continue to win their business every day.

3. Show that they matter – Clients are just like you, they want to know that they matter over anything else. Many times professionals shut off their cell phones, e-mail or other tools that prevent you from showing that your clients matter. Too often we force people to play by our rules without meeting in the middle. Clients need to feel that they matter, and that they have a say.

4. Follow Up -Your clients are as busy as you are. But the cost for each follow up? Nothing, it is a free service. Many businesses today do not follow up and wonder why they struggle with communications and success with their clients. I relate to a story of a small garage and when I took my car to have some repairs done, the owner made a point to following up with me to make sure my car was working perfectly, I have been a client of theirs ever since. Follow up goes a long way. It aids in winning the loyalty of your clients, showing that they matter-leading to more business down the road.

What would be the impact to your business if you sat down and figured out what your clients are really worth to your business? What is the total amount that they spend with you? There is an alarming trend in North America today that we only think of our clients when the transaction occurs. Those of us who can think about our clients before or after the transaction has occurred will end up winning over those who do not.

Stuart Crawford is the Director of Business Development for IT Matters Inc., Calgary, Alberta’s award winning Microsoft Small Business Specialist.