No one starts a business wanting to attract problem clients or not wanting to perform to the best of their abilities. Common sense says that if you do a good job, people will notice and will continue using your services.
But do you just want clients to keep using your services, or do you want clients who LOVE you, keep using your services, are ready to buy anything new that you produce, AND tell all their friends that you’re the bomb?
I vote for that second type of client, too. Plus, it’s an ego boost to hear nice things about your abilities, so making your clients love you is a wise choice.
However, if you’re stuck on how to make this love fest happen, below are 21 ideas that you can implement into your business at any time. Experiment with each one and make it your own; adapt them for the type of clients you help.
Whether you work on these tips one at a time or multiples at once, you’ll notice a shift in your client’s attitudes and possibly in your revenue if they start singing your praises and new clients search you out.
1. Conduct Your Business with Honesty and Integrity
Again, this seems like a common sense approach that most business owners would naturally practice, but you always hear stories of others who try to cut corners, cover up mistakes, or outright steal ideas from others.
If you don’t know the answer to something, either research the answer or admit that you don’t know. If you undercharged a client, have a conversation about the mistaken rate and find a way to compromise on how to resolve it rather than trying to cover it up with a higher invoice.
Inevitably, if you lie to a client, they will find out the truth, which usually means they’ll leave your service. Depending on the lie, this could also lead to a lawsuit, which takes up time and is very expensive. Now think about all the negative publicity you’d receive as a result. Is it worth it just to cover your butt with a lie? Probably not.
2. Admit Your Mistakes
To run a client-based business, open communication is a must going in both directions. Yes, you want to appear perfect, but things happen, usually to bring you back down to reality. As your mom always said, “Honesty is the best policy,” even if you have a hard lesson to learn as a result.
Admitting mistakes also relates back to running your business with integrity. As difficult as it may be to admit a mistake and possibly come under fire for doing so, you’ll learn an important lesson for preventing the same mistake in the future. Even if your client is angry, you can take pride you did the right thing.
3. Answer Your Phone When a Client Calls
How did you feel the last time you reached out to a company to ask a question and you were put into voice mail hell? You know, that never-ending circle of pushing different buttons to hopefully get to the right person. Is it fair to say you felt frustrated? Do you want your clients to feel that way when they try to reach you?
Of course, set your business boundaries in terms of how you’ll communicate and when they are free to call, but don’t send them into voice mail hell. Forward your calls to your VA when you’re with other clients; at least that way, they can still speak to a real person instead of a robotic voice. If you only have voice mail during those busy times, mention a time frame when they can expect a callback. Most importantly, call them back quickly! Even if you’ve heard their question 100 times before, this is new to them, so don’t dismiss it as unimportant or stupid.
4. Be Proactive
Don’t always wait for your client to ask you to do something for them. Be proactive and make suggestions, find solutions, or take action that your client hasn’t thought of yet. Think one or two steps ahead of them and determine which solutions would be most helpful. Your client is still responsible for completing the work, but if you surprise them with ideas, they’ll see you’re really thinking of them and their success.
A word of caution: Don’t submit too many ideas at once if you think it will overwhelm your client. Some people work great when lots of information is thrown at them, while others come to a complete standstill. Do whatever works best for your client and, if necessary, keep your awesome ideas in that client’s folder until they’re ready to hear them.
5. Show Your Eagerness about Their Success
You don’t have to be all “rainbows and lollipops” every time you talk to your clients, but showing your excitement about what they’re working toward or cheering them on when they step out of their comfort zone will only want them to succeed even more.
You’re both a guide and a cheerleader. You have the experience and ideas they need to grow, and you get the front-row seat to watch their progress. Their success reflects kindly on your business, so if you’re excited, they will be excited and willing to work toward those goals.
Consider sending a recorded message every week for motivation. Send an inspirational e-card or even a handwritten note of encouragement. All of these small acts of kindness add up and show just how much you care about your clients
6. Beat the Deadlines and Overdeliver
If you promise a client any type of report or a hard copy of their action plan and goals, push out the deadline by adding a bit of extra time. One of two things will happen: You will be early submitting the report because things were smooth sailing and you had dedicated time to work on it; OR your days will be crazy, but you’ll still hand it in on time because you built in those extra days. How do you think the airlines make it possible to land on time (or even early!) when for decades they were notorious for taking off late? They pad their arrival times.
Hand-in-hand with meeting deadlines is overdelivering on your promises. If your client is expecting one plan for a social media campaign, why not submit three plans or variations? The idea is not to confuse your client but to show them how many options they have while also showcasing your expertise.
7. Come Through in Moments of High Stress
Murphy’s Law always comes into play at the most inopportune times, which ultimately causes high stress when you’re trying to meet a deadline. If your client calls you on a Friday night in a panic, decide if this truly is a time to panic or if the problem can be resolved on Monday.
If it’s officially panic time, consider jumping in to save the day. Not at the expense of missing your daughter’s wedding, but if your Saturday plans can be rearranged, do so in exchange for doing some problem-solving on behalf of your client. And if you DO have a wedding to attend, ask your VA or another trusted business associate to help.
8. Think “Outside the Box” for Entertainment Ideas
Entertaining clients is a bit easier when you serve a local community face to face. Rent a luxury box at a sporting event. Host a black-tie New Year’s Eve party for your clients and their guests. Go one step further and rent limousines to bring you into a big city for dinner and festivities. Rent a private boat for your top-tier clients during the summer months. Reserve a tee time at a prestigious PGA golf course. Any type of event or activity will be more memorable than a simple coffee or lunch date.
For those coaches with online-only clientele, you’ll need to get more creative. Host a speaker online and invite your clients to a private webinar (just make sure the topic is one that will help whomever you invite so they’re not bored). Host a weekend retreat complete with speakers. Offer VIP days where either you or the client travel to meet the other in person. Even though this option includes working together, you still have plenty of time to arrange nice dinners or activities to fill your free time.
For those coaches who are breaking into the business, I’m not knocking the coffee or lunch dates. Those options are still better than not meeting your clients in person. Start with these dates and then work your way up to bigger events as your business grows.
9. Respect Your Clients’ Busy Days
No, you don’t need access to their Google calendars, but you should pay attention to how busy their different schedules can be. If you know your client is slammed on Monday mornings, don’t assign deadlines or hit them up with a dozen emails on Monday. You won’t get frustrated for not receiving answers, and they won’t be frustrated because they can’t fit one more task into their schedule.
Work out a schedule during your onboarding session, so you both know the best times to get in touch. The same goes with vacations or business travel. Respect their schedules, and they will learn to respect yours.
10. Prepare for Each Coaching Session
Just as you would expect your clients to be prepared, so must you be prepared. Review your client’s onboarding info and/or the notes from their last session. If you had to prepare a strategy, be sure that’s complete, and that your notes are legible.
Also, get in the habit of creating a summary for yourself after each client’s session detailing exactly what YOU have to complete before the next one. A forgetful coach who doesn’t follow through doesn’t give confidence to her clients.
Lastly, create a plan of action for each coaching session. Always have a plan instead of just asking, “So, what do you want to talk about today?” Certainly, ask for your client’s input and be prepared if something off-topic arises but don’t be caught unprepared. Your clients are paying good money for your advice so be prepared to share that advice.
11. Treat ALL Your Clients as VIPs
Even if you have different levels of client programs, ALL your clients are paying good money and deserve your attention. Certainly, inform them if a team member will handle certain tasks or will oversee scheduling their appointments; otherwise, create your daily schedule, so you’re well prepared for all your coaching sessions.
Do you remember back in elementary school and how it felt to be chosen last in gym class? Even though we’re all adults now, no one wants to feel like you have second-class clients and their issues don’t matter to you. Even if your clients have a wide range of annual earnings, the smallest business still needs your help as much as the largest.
Consider outsourcing some administrative tasks or assigning client tasks and research to a team member. Just don’t lose sight of who’s doing what for which client.
12. Ask for Feedback
Periodically ask for client feedback about their experience, about your products, or about what they feel is missing or could be done better. No one is perfect, and even if we reach for perfection while setting up our businesses, perfection is out of reach, and things happen. If you don’t stay in touch with what your clients want, they will naturally go searching for someone who can provide what they need, so staying current with market trends and your client’s needs is paramount to success.
Make this conversation a part of your coaching session, or offer an anonymous survey option with a few short questions. The key for you is to not take negative criticism personally. Every single person and business can stand to improve something, so simply listen (or read the survey results), take notes, and make changes as necessary.
13. Put Equal Effort into Keeping Your Clients and as You Put into Getting New Clients
Many business owners think of obtaining new clients as a creative challenge. How can I attract their attention? What can I offer them? What social media posts will get them engaged? How can I woo them so they like me?
But signing a new client is just the starting point of building a relationship; your wooing doesn’t end there. Clients can drop you like a hot potato at any time, for any reason, so you need to create a plan that makes them want to stay with you.
Be creative! Think of ideas that would appeal to you if the roles were reversed. How would you expect to be treated as a client? Keep a brainstorming list and keep adding to it as inspiration hits you. Not every idea will be a slam dunk, but you won’t know unless you try.
14. Make Your Client’s Life Easier
Making your clients jump through hoops to make a purchase or to pay for their coaching sessions takes up time and brings up frustration, neither of which reflects well on your business. Create a process with as few clicks as possible, and you’ll notice an increase in completed purchases, and clients won’t call you up complaining.
PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay are commonly used and can be integrated with most invoicing systems or shopping carts. Go one step further and choose a cart and/or payment processor that allows recurring payments or subscription payments, then your clients don’t have to worry about physically logging in anywhere to pay for their coaching sessions.
15. Reward Loyalty
Who doesn’t like a nice surprise now and then? To reward those longtime clients who have been with you from the start or who have purchased every one of your products, surprise them with a special discount or a special gift in the mail.
A discount or a gift is simply a way to say Thank You, not a bribe to spend more money! Consider starting a loyalty program, such as Buy 10 Coaching Sessions, and Get Your 11th for Free. Or offer an installment plan to your best customers for your weekend retreat. So long as your customer service remains top-notch, you’ll retain your clients, and they’ll have the added perk of a surprise gift.
16. Work Quickly and Fairly to Resolve Problems
Even the best-laid plans run into problems, so don’t think that your business will be exempt. How you handle the problems, however, is what will set you apart from your competitors and will result in happy clients.
When a client lodges a complaint, ask questions. Don’t draw conclusions based on those answers alone but use it as a starting point to investigate on your end what happened, who was responsible, and how this problem can be prevented in the future. Your team members will appreciate you not throwing them under the bus just to preserve the client relationship, and the client will appreciate how quickly you investigated the problem.
No one can predict if or when a problem will cause a client to leave your service, so you should always be prepared for that eventuality; but if you approach the problem fairly and look honestly at both sides, at least you know that you’ve done everything possible to repair the relationship.
17. Never Assume
We all know what happens when you make assumptions, which is why it’s so important to bring clients into the mix when it comes to creating action plans and the next steps. Even after they tell you what their goals are, never assume there’s only one way to reach those goals.
If you’re ready to create products for your customer base, always conduct some market research before embarking on the creation process. What’s worse: Refining your product outline a touch based on customer research or witnessing a failed launch because you assumed you knew what your customers wanted?
18. Stay Connected
Every year you’ll attract new clients (hopefully!) and eventually, your client list will be cumbersome to organize. Use an email autoresponder to organize your list, divide them into categories, and send (at the very least) monthly news updates about what you’re doing, what’s new in your business, and any client shout-outs you want to mention.
Staying connected is especially important if you have clients who left because they graduated from your program. It’s a natural occurrence and when they have reached their limits with you, it’s natural to up-level to a different coach with different experiences and expertise. However, just because they graduated doesn’t mean you won’t produce something that they will want or need. They have already tested your programs, so these warm prospects (aka former clients) will be easier to sell to because they already know your style.
19. Add Value at Every Turn
Another way to make your clients love you is to stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like someone who simply wants to help others.
You’re a coach, and that means you have the skills needed to connect to your clients on an emotional level. You know how to listen to what they want and how to deliver what they need. Direct your clients to the resources they need, and they’ll be your fans.
For your social media followers who are still getting to know you, create blog posts and social posts that offer exceptional added value to readers free of charge. Create paid products that expand upon this free information. Your paid clients and your social followers will appreciate how much you share, which will endear you to them.
20. Send Your Clients Referrals
Just as you are always looking for new clients, so are your clients. In fact, you’re probably working on this in your action plans, right?
Networking is a two-way street: You give your clients referrals, and hopefully, they will do the same for you. The days of “cold calling” are all but over, especially with annoying robocalls making a bad name for the telemarketing industry. People are always more willing to take a phone call or notice an email if it comes from a mutual friend, aka the person who made the referral.
The best referrals are those who actually fall into your client’s “ideal client” group. Giving shout-outs on social media is a nice thing to do, but it won’t necessarily lead to dozens of new clients. Targeting your network and sending referrals ONLY for those ideal clients will yield much greater success.
21. Feature Your Clients on Your Website or Give Shout Outs on Social Media
Who couldn’t use a little more publicity? One way to make your clients feel valued is to spotlight their company on your website and/or your social feed. A simple headshot along with a description of their company is enough to garner some new Likes to their page and maybe even an inquiry or two.
As part of your onboarding process, always ask for permission to put them in the spotlight. Depending on their goals, not everyone may want to admit they’re using a coach and would prefer privacy. Others will jump at the opportunity, so just remember to ask.
Making your clients fall in love with you is one-part common sense and one-part creativity. Treat them as you would want to be treated, and then throw in some unique gifts or events. Be consistent and keep your clients foremost in your mind; that’s a winning equation.