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6 Fast Ways to Build Trust With a New Client

By | Business Tips | No Comments

You can probably sense when a person doesn’t trust you. Maybe they leave out information about themselves. Or they question everything you tell them.

Building trust is tough enough on your team. When it comes to clients, it can seem downright impossible. 

New clients are especially prone to skepticism. You have yet to prove yourself to them, so why should they trust you?

It’s a fair point, but don’t panic. Don’t resort to toxic positivity, which can actually push people away. 

Although it’s important to build trust naturally, there are things you can do to speed up the process. Here’s what you can do:

1. Lead with ethics and values.

Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer shows that trust in businesses boils down to two things: ethics and competence. Although you can’t show your skills until you’ve done business together, you can speak to your ethics.

The way to do that is to make your values clear. Any business would promote values related to competence, such as discipline. Go further by pointing out actions you’ve taken to support social causes, sustainability practices, or other humanitarian work.  

When people know what you stand for, they’re more inclined to trust you. From there, you can prove you have the other part of the equation: competence. 

2. Know your clients.

Knowing your clients may seem like a given, but you can’t make assumptions. If you assume your clients are young people, you’re likely to turn off seniors who use your service. 

Without a sense of the demographic and psychographic categories your customers fall into, you’ll struggle to provide a strong customer experience. Build avatars with the following attributes:

  • Average age
  • Gender breakdown
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Geographic location
  • Income level
  • Educational attainment
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Values and concerns

Knowing these things can help you master your branding. But more importantly, it helps you make every relationship more personal and, as a result, trusting. 

3. Be genuine.

One of the simplest ways to build trust is to be authentic. If you put up a front, your customers will see right through it. 

Genuineness isn’t something you can teach. And it can be tough to be genuine when you’re overthinking it. Simply put your best foot forward, and don’t try to hide anything. 

4. Be confident.

If you communicate to clients exactly what you can do for them with confidence, they’ll give you a shot. The reason is, confidence is contagious. If you believe in your business, then so will your customers. 

Confidence should be tempered by realistic expectations. If you’ll say anything to get clients in the door, then they’ll soon see your confidence is a facade. 

Being real but confident with customers is a matter of knowing the ins and outs of what your company can do. If you promise them something you can’t deliver, they won’t stick around after you fail. If you under-promise, they won’t be impressed. Get it just right, and they’ll receive exactly what they expected — which shows you’re true to your word. 

5. Communicate transparently.

It’s no secret that transparency is key to building trust. So when communicating with customers, give them both the pros and cons of your service.

Say you’re a boutique ad agency. You might be able to secure placements nobody else can — at a premium price. Be honest about both pieces of the puzzle.  

If you only emphasize your pros, clients will assume your promises are too good to be true. In fact, they’ll respect you for sharing the cons. Think about them as opportunities for growth. 

Once you’ve given customers the skinny, step back. Tell them what they need to know, and leave the nitty-gritty details for later in the relationship. It’s all about balance. 

6. Emphasize security. 

Sometimes, a client will need to share sensitive information with you. If there’s any question about whether that information will fall into the wrong hands, that customer won’t be keen on working with you. 

Always acknowledge that clients’ security and privacy is critical. Explain upfront how you’ll use their information: Will it be passed to the marketing team? How will it be stored? What recourse does the customer have if it’s disclosed?

Operate with integrity. Don’t ask customers to sign things they haven’t read. Walk through the highlights, leave plenty of time for questions, and be patient if the customer isn’t ready to move forward. 

Trust is the foundation of business. The sooner you can build it with a new client, the better. And if you can maintain it, they’ll be loyal to you for years to come. 

6 Tips to Supercharge Customer Support With Scheduling Software

By | Scheduling | No Comments

What distinguishes your business isn’t just the quality of your product or service; it’s also how your product or service is delivered. In fact, 73% of consumers say the experience is their main consideration after price and product quality. 

One way to ensure that you’re delivering a great experience is using scheduling software. By using automation technology to manage from appointments to service calls to follow-ups, you’ll help your company stand out. 

Scheduling software is a set-it-and-forget-it system for customer support. But like any system, it isn’t foolproof. Use these six tips to get it right:

1. Default to self-service.

Most scheduling software gives you a choice: Either you schedule clients’ appointments, or you let them do so themselves. Letting clients choose is a win-win: Your team saves time, while your customers are able to book when and as often as they want.

From transportation to lodging to restaurant reservations, online booking is what today’s customers are used to. In healthcare, for example, 77% of patients see self-scheduling as important.

Why do customers insist on self-booking? The practice lets them:

  • Schedule appointments during hours when you’re closed for business. 
  • Take time to compare your availability to their own calendar.
  • Cancel and reschedule appointments on their own.

 

2. Send purposeful reminders.

Reminding customers about their appointments is important because they have busy lives. In the rush of modern life, it’s easy to forget even things they schedule themselves. 

Sending reminders can reduce your no-show rate, but it can also demonstrate that you are eager and ready to provide for your customer. Customers shouldn’t have to contact you to make sure you’ll be ready for an appointment. 

The reminders you send should be timely and meaningful. You wouldn’t send the same notification to someone whose appointment is booked for tomorrow as you would a person who has an appointment a couple of months from now. And if every reminder looks the same, customers are less likely to pay attention to them. 

With scheduling software, you can automate reminders based on how far away the meeting is. These can be delivered through emails or text messages, and you can tailor the notification to match the circumstance. 

3. Be flexible with payments.

Depending on your line of business, you might be able to accept payments before or after an appointment. If you can, give customers that option.

Some people like to make payments when they book so they can forget about it. Others would rather wait to pay in person. Still others want to receive the service before they pay. 

Scheduling software that integrates with payment services lets your customers choose. Providing that flexibility shows that you’re confident in your product or service. 

4. Add value with follow-ups.

With scheduling software, you can keep customers in the loop of what’s going on at the business. Doing so takes you from just a business to a part of their community. 

When you follow up, include an incentive or educational content — and ideally both. You can offer customers a range of items, such as:

  • Discounts
  • Bonus gifts
  • Invitations to events
  • Tip and tricks
  • Refund policies

Like reminders, these follow-ups should be unique to the situation and customer. Try dispensing certain ones, like discounts, after a set number of appointments. Others, like bonus gifts, might be best sent for the customer’s birthday. Exclusive event invitations might be based on the customer’s package or price point. 

5. Keep their data secure.

Customers value security. Keeping their information secure is simple with scheduling software. 

For example, you can set appointment notifications to be sent only to team members who need to know about them. This is particularly important in industries like healthcare, which are governed by privacy frameworks like HIPAA.

Scheduling software also encrypts sensitive information. That way, payment details or patient records aren’t compromised in transit. 

6. Always ask for feedback.

Do not expect customers to give feedback if you don’t ask for it. After an appointment, around renewal times, and whenever you roll out a new service, reach out to customers for comments.

Use your scheduling software’s reminder and follow-up features to do this. Include a quantitative portion — a 0-10 satisfaction scale — and a qualitative prompt. Often, the best insights into what you could be doing better come from customer comments.

There’s no single formula for customer support, but there is a singularly important tool: a scheduling system. To take your customer experience to the next level, embrace it. 

5 Scheduling Issues Your Clients Aren’t Telling You About

By | Scheduling | No Comments

Scheduling software is more popular than ever. But just because you know how to use it doesn’t mean all of your clients do. 

The truth is, your clients don’t want to bother you. They may not know whether you can solve their issue, so they just accept things the way they are.

But even if your clients aren’t speaking up about scheduling issues, they are judging your business by them. Scheduling software is supposed to make you more efficient. If you aren’t addressing problems with similar efficiency, your clients will become skeptical. 

Invite clients to talk through their scheduling issues. In the meantime, take a look at the following problems to get a sense of what you may be dealing with:

1. They’re not getting reminders.

Has a client ever had to call to confirm a meeting or appointment? Do you find that happening often? If so, your scheduling system may not be sending them reminders like it should. 

Reminders give clients confirmation that their appointment will be upheld. They should not have to worry about arriving at your company and not being able to meet with the person they booked. 

Be sure to set your scheduling software to automate reminders so that you don’t have to send them manually. Adjust the number of reminders based on how far away the appointment is. Make sure one is sent when the appointment is made and another 24 hours in advance. 

Another tip is to make sure that your reminders are worthy of a response by including a question about whether they’re able to make it or personalizing the notification. When clients respond, they’ll either signal they’re still planning to make the appointment or ask to reschedule. 

2. They’re struggling with time zones.

If you are on the East Coast but want to schedule an appointment with someone on the West Coast, you have to account for the time change. And sometimes it can be difficult to know if they’re talking about your 9 a.m. or their 9 a.m. This can lead to awkward moments and missed meetings.

If your scheduling software doesn’t automatically adjust for different time zones, it’s time to invest in one that does. Not only will this benefit clients, but it will also benefit remote team members. Encourage everyone to be considerate of normal business hours.

3. They can’t get the slots they want.

When it comes to scheduling, we can’t always get what we want. It can often feel like the perfect time for us just so happens to be the perfect time for someone else.

Every company has peak hours, but it’s important to cater to your clients’ schedules. If you can’t afford to hire additional team members, try restructuring how people’s availability is displayed. Make availability based on time rather than a particular person: This way, the task and time chosen will simply be directed to the next available person. 

Another way to mitigate this issue is to use a waitlist in your scheduling app. In case someone cannot make their appointment or needs to change it, the next person on the waitlist will get a notification right away. 

4. The details are wrong.

When a client schedules an appointment, they need to know more than when it is. Make sure that your system is updated with the other details they need. Check, too, that they’re recapped correctly in the system’s email reminders.

If your office has recently moved, did you remember to update the address in your scheduling system? Is your cancellation policy current? If they can’t make an appointment, what number should they call?

5. They don’t know how to use the system.

Chances are, you still have clients that make their appointments by phone or in person. Even though they know about your online scheduling option, they may not know how to use it.

The trouble is, this can throw off the efficiency of your scheduling system by decentralizing it. To get things back to where they need to be, put together tutorials on how to use your scheduling software. During their next visit, ask if they would like you to walk them through it. 

Remember, you’re not just selling a service or product; you’re also selling an experience. Show them how seamless online scheduling can be. The faster they can get in and get out, the happier they’re going to be.

These scheduling issues are not the end of the world, but they are real and frustrating for your clients. Be proactive in solving their problems. That’s what client service is all about, isn’t it?

5 Tips for Balancing Your Clients’ Calendars With Your Own

By | Time Management | No Comments
5 Tips for Balancing Your Clients’ Calendars With Your Own

It’s easy to be the client’s yes-man: agreeing to last-minute projects and too-fast turnarounds, booking back-to-back meetings, and worrying about how you’ll complete the work you take on.

Don’t get me wrong: Clients’ needs are important. In fact, they’re the reason you see profits at the end of the quarter. But if you’re constantly reacting to client needs, when will you have time to work on all of the other things that keep your company moving forward?

Resist the urge to overload your schedule. Not only does it put you at risk of letting a client down, but it can lead to all sorts of chronic health problems. 

Balancing your client’s calendar with your own can feel like walking on a tightrope. Cut yourself some slack with these five tips:

1. Know when you work best.

When do you feel most energized? It could be in the morning right after a cup of coffee, or in mid-afternoon as the office gets quiet and your inbox traffic slows. Identify the time of day when you’re at peak productivity.

No matter what part of the day works best for you, block this time out on your schedule for focused, distraction-free work. Don’t let the whirlwind of meetings and emails keep you from spending this time on your most pressing projects. 

This is the work of setting boundaries, which benefit everyone involved: You finish projects on time, and your client gets a better outcome. Don’t feel guilty for it. 

2. Use an online scheduling tool.

Although paper planners and calendars have their benefits, working from an online calendar is the best way to stay on top of the fast-paced work environment.

To that calendar, add not just your meetings and appointments, but also those blocks of time when you want to do deep work. Set it so that your team members and, if you so choose, your clients can see your availability. 

Giving clients open access to your calendar might be nerve-wracking. But think about the advantages of such a system: Clients who can see your calendar will understand that you can’t meet at a time that you’ve already committed to someone else. Make rearranging your schedule the last resort. 

3. Build a buffer into timeline estimates.

When setting the project timeline, be realistic. Give estimates according to when you could comfortably complete the work, not when you could do it if you pushed everything else out of the way.

Sure, it’s nice to impress a client with a quick turnaround. If you do that for every client, though, you’ll quickly run out of time and energy. 

Apply the “buffer” approach to your meeting schedule as well. Give yourself small blocks of time between appointments to decompress, answer emails, and prepare for the next one. 

4. Look at the big picture.

You know what times of year are most and least profitable for your business. The same is true of your clients.

It’s likely that your clients have an idea of how their year will look and what they might need in a given season. At the start of the calendar year, ask your long-term clients what projects they anticipate needing your help with. Not only does reaching out early show that you want to maintain your relationship with them, but it lets you know well in advance what’s coming.

Go ahead and add those projects to your calendar. Set reminders to follow up with each client for details as the start dates draw closer. 

5. Get creative.

Make use of every minute of your schedule. If you find yourself squandering interstitial periods, ask whether you could use them to buy yourself time elsewhere. 

For example, you could take lunch meetings or chat with clients over happy hour. If you usually commute to appointments, could you take some of them via a videoconferencing service?

Videoconferencing is a good solution for all sorts of meetings. Not only does it keep you at your desk, but it allows you to share your screen and record the conversation.

At the end of the day, remember that you’re the captain of your calendar. It’s OK to occasionally feel overwhelmed by your workload, but it shouldn’t be the norm. Client needs are important, yes, but you should not live by their beck and call.

How to Handle a Meeting-Happy Client

By | Time Management | No Comments
Determine Whether Working With a Friend is a Good Idea

Saying “no” is tough for everyone, including entrepreneurs. You want to do right by your clients, but you can’t spend your whole day meeting with them.

Every moment you spend in a meeting is one you can’t spend working on your business. Don’t let meeting-happy clients pull you away from your other priorities.

Start by keeping a time log so you know exactly how you’re spending your time. If one or two accounts are responsible for a disproportionate amount of your meeting time:

1. Get to the root of the issue. 

Clients know their time is limited, too. If they keep asking to meet with you, look for common themes. Show that you’re working to solve their needs, and you should see those requests fall off.

Try this: When the client reaches out, respond by asking for more details about the reason for the meeting. In many cases, a meeting simply isn’t necessary. If it’s something that you can address yourself, do it. Report back, and ask if the client still wants to meet.

2. Delegate. 

If your client constantly asks to meet — especially if it’s for a legitimate reason — one solution might be to ask a team member to take the meetings. That way, the client feels supported, and your schedule stays open.

Be sure, though, that the client respects your employee’s time. Ask them to schedule meetings at least 48 hours in advance, and ensure meetings last no longer than an hour. 

3. Be direct and quick.

What if, despite you solving the client’s issue, he or she still wants to meet? Say no, but don’t beat around the bush.

Being decisive and clear benefits everyone. Think of it like tearing off a Band-Aid: It’s better to get through the pain quickly than let it fester. In fact, a great client will appreciate your straightforward, timely response.

4. Provide additional resources.

Just because you say “no” to a meeting doesn’t mean you can’t be a good partner. If you can’t solve the client’s issue yourself, share content about it or make a referral to someone who can.

If multiple clients have come to you about this issue, consider developing a whitepaper or similar asset around it. A robust content strategy can be a great way to bring in new business. 

5. Template your responses. 

No matter how well you handle meeting-happy clients, there will always be more. Prepare yourself for the next one by setting up templates. Make each response is decisive and inoffensive.

Start with two: For those that you see no reason to meet with, “My calendar is booked for the foreseeable future” is a good response. For the rest, say something like, “I would love to discuss this with you further, but let’s wait for our next scheduled meeting.”

Practice makes perfect: The only way you’re going to get better at saying “no” to your clients is by doing it over and over again. Own your schedule, and don’t be ashamed of it. 

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