Thursday, April 21, 2011

Client Retention Obstacle 2: It’s All About Me.

We always complain about clients. They demand, they question, they change their minds. All the while we're trying to build great client relationships and improve client retention. What's the rub?

Look in the mirror.
Let’s start with us. Look at the ideal we’ve created in our mind about the client relationship.  It’s a client who appreciates everything we do:  the fire drill follow-ups, the head-butting with designers, the internal budget negotiations, the hand-wringing during presentations, the late nights and weekends making deadlines. We even wish they knew about the bonus we’re going to get if things go well.  Essentially, we want the client to focus on us, on our world, on our stuff.

It's not about us.
Who are we kidding? Why do we focus inwardly?  Partly, it’s the self-centered nature of our big egos. And many of our reward and recognition systems emphasize self-importance. Yet, this focus on "me"causes the anguish.

It’s about them.
The problem is we forget to balance the “me” with the “you.” Providing service is inherently selfless. The better you understand the other, the better you serve. So try to be the client. Know their world, the internal politics, the pressure for profits, that fact that your client’s boss is on your client’s case. Heads are on the chopping block. Be in that world.  Feel their pain.

Stop complaining and start knowing.
We need to face this squarely. For whatever reason, you got in the service business. So for a moment stop pulling your hair and complaining to your colleagues. Know what your client is faced with, really dealing with. And if you don’t know, find out. And once you develop a true appreciation for that world you’ll find your pain recedes and the client relationship improves. And so does client retention.

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