There is a huge misconception that the best business is a business that is at the beck-and-call of its clients. The truth is that the best business is a business that effectively sets boundaries, and manages and exceeds client expectations in order to maintain a productive and effective flow.
If you are constantly juggling clients, answering the phone at all hours of the day, interrupting your personal time to fit in business, and feeling stressed, read the below 3 Reasons Why Beck-and-Call is Not Better Business.
- It’s Impossible to Manage Client Expectations
Without structure and a solid foundation of rules and regulations, managing client expectations is impossible. They will expect the world, and will be sorely disappointed, when you do not deliver it. In other words, without boundaries, it’s quite possible they will expect everything.
You may find yourself, at one point or another, running yourself ragged juggling multiple clients, all of whom expect your undivided attention. When you find it impossible to meet the expectations of your clients, your business will suffer in more than one way. You’ll be exhausted and clients will be left dissatisfied. No one wins.
Client expectations can only be effectively managed by outlining specific deliverables from the very beginning. If this isn’t possible (if the working relationship has already begun), then establish and communicate boundaries to clients as soon as you can.
If you can find a way to establish some ground rules (and stay firm to them), your clients will maintain healthy expectations and be satisfied (if not extremely happy) with the results. Establishing ground rules to manage client expectations is much like the tasks you schedule in your planner/calendar: Write it down and honor it.
For example, I was working with a very successful Advisor and his staff, where they had set the expectation that when anyone called in, they were to be taken care of right then and there. Instead of gathering the information and getting back to them with the answer to what they were calling about, they were dropping everything to jump in and handle things right away. They were afraid to change the “Jump To” (beck-and-call) process for one that would serve everyone better. When I asked them to try my recommendation for gathering information and getting back to the person within 24-48 hours (depending on what the client was calling about) and let me know what happened after they did this for one week. Surprise…. They didn’t have one single person complain, which is what they were afraid of. Most people expect other people to be busy and for people to get back to them within a reasonable amount of time. By applying this concept and new expectations, it made everyone on the team more time efficient and effective, and reduced the stress. They got back to the person at an agreed to day and time, and everyone was happy with the new expectations.
- It’s Impossible to Effectively Manage Your Business
Imagine how effectively you can manage your business when you’re struggling to meet multiple demands of multiple clients? Instead of having time to focus on building your business, you’ll be struggling just to maintain it. That’s no way to run your business. It’s much like multi-tasking – it doesn’t work well.
If you’re consumed with meeting the high demands of unbridled client expectations, your business isn’t running with the greatest effectiveness or efficiency. You’re spending too much time on an overly demanding client, instead of focusing on other areas of your business that also require your attention in order to be successful.
You know you’re not effectively running your business (it’s actually running you) when:
- You become exhausted and resentful of demanding clients (and eventually become resentful of your business, which detracts from your path of success).
- Highly demanding clients without a ceiling on expectations are impossible to please (and miserable to work with).
- Clients with irrational or unreasonable expectations never provide glowing business reviews (they’re often negative and damage your professional reputation).
- You must have time to focus on other areas of your business other than client service (like finding and signing on prospective clients).
- You spend a lot of unproductive time playing phone tag (and nobody I know likes phone tag) and getting distracted by taking client calls at the time they call in, instead of scheduling a time to talk with them where they have your undivided attention and you have theirs.
- Instead of creating a straight path to success, you’re running yourself (and your business) into the ground.
If a client requests a service or special attention, offer an additional service or upgraded package in which the client has the option to pay for that additional service. By honoring the ground rules you establish, you honor yourself, the value of your service, as well as the investment your client makes.
- It’s Impossible to Maintain Peace and Balance
If you’re constantly juggling unreasonable client expectations, it will be impossible to maintain any sense of peace and balance in your personal or professional life. You may feel like you’re sacrificing your personal life for your business, or the important professional tasks that cannot be completed because you’re catering to an overly-demanding client.
At some point, hopefully before total burnout, you learn to recognize what’s really important: sometimes saying no is the best thing. It’s vital to learn to say no to over-delivering on services clients have not paid for; no to things you do more out of obligation rather than joy; no to things that consume your schedule leaving little or no down time or freedom to do what you truly want and love to do. When you’ve overextended yourself too far the only way to regain a sense of peace and balance is to say no. (You can always say ‘yes’ later.)
You’re not alone. It’s common for business owners to find difficulty in saying no, especially to their clients. Pay special attention if you see this habit playing out in multiple areas of your life, because it may be a symptom of a much bigger problem: seeking approval.
Clients are necessary, but you do not have to sell your soul to win their business. You do not have to be at their beck-and-call to earn their approval. You are a professional, providing a valuable service to a valuable client – that is the focus and the extent of your relationship – and it’s perfect just that way. There is no one’s approval to meet. You only need focus on delivering the best service and what you promised to deliver.
Establish client boundaries that support your personal definition of peace and balance. What works best for you? However that looks, design client boundaries to support your personal and professional life – and the success of your business. Deliver what the client agreed to pay for – no more, no less – and strive to deliver your absolute best each and every time – that’s good business practice.
“So, if you’re tired of the same old story… oh, turn some pages.”
— Roll with the Changes, REO Speedwagon (1978)
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