There was a time when I worked evenings and weekends, rarely passing up the opportunity to land a new client. Part of the motivation was financial, as building a business has lots of ups and downs for what seems to be a long time, but part was simply because I have a bit of a competitive edge to me!
Today, however, I cannot land every person who reaches out to me as I am simply too busy and receive too many inquiries. I think that there are several reasons why I attract potential clients.
The first is my 10-year track record as a full-time career services provider. In this decade, I built a clientele of thousands and many return for resume updates and refer family, friends, and co-workers.
But lots of businesses do not survive past the first or second year.
I attribute a great deal of my success to the fact that I embrace a "high touch" customer service ethic.
Most clients work with me virtually: we never meet other than in emails or telephone calls. I feel it's important that they have confidence in me as a reliable, trust-worthy partner; hence, I reply to emails as quickly as I can and correspond generously.
Here is a list of what my clients can expect:
- I answer each and every email. If I don't, please email again. Occasionally folks provide me with an address that has a typo (email generated from my website) and I am unable to reply. Sometimes, rarely, but I am human, an email gets buried and I simply forget. Know that I want to be supportive and responsive, not avoidant.
- I also reply to voice mails, typically on the same day.
- I like to surprise repeat clients with a little something - a discount or the odd "freebie."
- I've yet to miss a deadline. If we agree to a date, you can bank on it. Now I did have a colleague for whom I took a last minute client when she ended up in the hospital. I don't promise I'll write from the hospital if this happens to me, but, like my colleague, I'll try to find a replacement! (Knock on wood, I am from hardy stock!)
- I support my clients with loads of additional info - white papers or "how to's" on all kinds of job search topics. Many of these have helped my clients distinguish themselves from the competition and land great jobs, overcoming obstacles like ageism, no Canadian experience, no relevant experience, a gap due to maternity or paternity leave, and more.
- I won't argue with my client. If I disagree, I will share my knowledge and recommend a "best practice" option, and then I, of course, allow my client to make the final decision. After all, the documents do belong to the client who must share them in full confidence. If something doesn't feel right to the client, then by all means, s/he has the right to proceed as s/he prefers.
I often say that I have the best clients. In 10 years few have elected to not pay, perhaps five, and hundreds have sent referrals. I've "fired" only one client out of more than a thousand.
I'm grateful for my clients - for what I've learned, for what they've shared, for how I've been able to be helpful. My job is rewarding and sustaining.