There. Didn’t that make you feel better? More confident?
I write this post today to address a different kind of posture: The one you exude with your business and clients. I am often surprised at how we women, especially, seem to be very prone to devaluing ourselves in the marketplace. We’re not resolute enough to expect and charge what we are worth because we’re willing to sacrifice that to get clients. At times, we may even hesitate to assert our expertise. Case in point: We propose to a client, they say our price is too high, and rather than ask a thought provoking question such as “Compared to what?” we capitulate and counter with a lower price. Another example: A client requests a task that falls within our service set, but we feel it is not in their best interest. We do it anyway because they want it and we want to please them. Ever find yourself doing either of these things?
If I accomplish nothing else in this post, I want to convince you of two things: First, don’t ever hesitate to charge, what your careful research has determined, is your worth. Your successful competitors do, because they’ve demonstrated value to clients who are willing and able to pay them. Those clients are out there, even in the current economy. Your challenge is to identify the market that can and will pay for your services, and pursue those clients only. And, at the risk of getting pummeled, I implore you to wipe the phrase “I help clients….” out of your vocabulary and marketing materials. I promise, it’s too vague and you’ll give too much away thinking that way. Your mindset must be that you provide, for a competitive fee, a highly valued and well defined service which your clients need and want that’s worth their money. Period. Help your friends move if you must, but don’t just “help” your clients. Got it?
The second thing you must do is assert your expertise with your clients. Always. You are the expert in the services they have entrusted you to provide, or they’d do it themselves. This does not mean posing as a know-it-all, not listening to their ideas and desires, or being unwilling to admit when you’ve made a mistake or don’t have all the answers. It means having the integrity to say “No” when needed, or formulating an alternate approach. It means articulating clearly and convincingly why and how they can, and should, trust that you are acting in their best interest. In fact, I believe if you determine that a client does not trust you to do what’s best for them – especially in the face of a crisis – you should probably sever the relationship.
So, what do you think? Have you fallen into the either of the traps I’ve mentioned? What did you learn? How is your posture?
A recurring theme for all of us is the desire to change some aspect of our lives. Change where we live. Vary our surroundings. Alter our routines. Change our relationships. Change jobs. Out with the old, in with the new. Or something like that.
I’ve often wondered: Why do we grow restless with some things remaining the same, and perfectly content with other things never changing? We crave change, but at the same time we fear it. I’m reminded of a saying from Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”
My motto is that change is good, even though I don’t always like it. It’s the only constant in our lives. Even changes that hurt bring positives when we let them. When. We. Let. Them. Ponder that for a moment. This mindset is key to successful adaptation. I guarantee the more resistant you are to change, the more frustrating your life will be on every level. Still, it is human nature to resist change because it often requires that we retrain our brains in how we think and what we do. It takes work. Who wants more of that?
Now I’d like to hear from you: What is one change you’ve endured that you absolutely hated at first, but it wound up being one of the best changes of your life?
Business owners tell me daily that one of their biggest objections to having a social presence is that it gives unhappy customers a place to complain online for all to see. Do you worry about this as well?
It’s a valid concern – you are indeed giving customers a way to do that when you “go social.” The important point to remember, however, is they can do it already. Google Reviews, Yelp and CitySearch are but three places that customers can go to either praise or condemn you. There are many more that cater to certain industries, such as Urban Spoon for restaurants and Dealer Rater for car dealerships. Chances are, your customers are already talking about you online. The real question is: Do you know what they’re saying?
It’s beneficial to listen to customers online so that you can both protect and enhance your reputation there. One easy way to do this is with Google Alerts. Once it’s activated, you’ll be notified by email any time your brand is mentioned. A second way is to determine which review sites are widely used, and which are most often used for your industry. Check them regularly in the event that something falls below Google’s radar. Respond to every comment, good and bad. You can also encourage customers to go to these sites and give good reviews, building a bank of positive online press for all to see.
While a negative comment out in cyberspace may not be as daunting as one on your own branded Facebook Page or Blog, you should consider complaints on any of your sites a gift, as they provide an opportunity to address whatever problem has arisen. Just as people will see the negative, your rapid, thoughtful response also shows them you’re willing to address it. The important thing is to leave such comments intact so people don’t feel censored, while at the same time employing a strategy to get any issues off the page to avoid a lengthy back and forth. Offer to contact them personally or give your contact information for them to contact you. I suggest a phone call or in person visit to personalize the exchange even more.
Remember, your social presences are a resource for your customers. In part this means allowing them to voice both the positive and the negative, and handling each in a manner that strengthens your relationship with them.
Have you gotten complaints online? How do you handle them?