February 2019 is the 7th anniversary of Social Dragon! So much has changed in the last seven years. Some days it seemed like everything was going great and then other days were full of learning challenges.
As a small business owner, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m proud of what Social Dragon has accomplished so far and cannot wait to see where the next seven years will bring.
I love working with our clients. They are all wonderful people, and every one of them brings a unique situation that we handle daily. I love inspiring my clients, and in turn, they teach me lessons. Some I may have already known before, but just reinforced and there are many new lessons I learn frequently.
7 Lessons I’ve Learned From Clients
1. Not everything is about you
Clients are human too, and sometimes they vent their emotions, and on the surface, it seems they have taken you for granted, they are rude to you or are just not happy with you. Stop and take a moment to listen to them. Listen to what they are saying so you can ask the questions needed to find out what is happening and how to fix the situation.
Most times, it’s not about you. It’s just they are having a bad day, a bad week, even a bad month. Everyone wants to be listened to, and most times they don’t have that in their lives.
2. Set boundaries
Being in an online world that is virtually 24/7 sometimes clients think I am just sitting around waiting for them to message me to say they want this done. Not because it’s an emergency, but because they were scrolling online or talking to a friend and found the idea and now, they want it, and they want it now. For your sanity, set the boundaries at the beginning of your working relationship and set the expectation when something comes up that needs to be addressed. Don’t be shy and let them take advantage of you.
Set the boundaries of your office hours. When are you available? When are you not? Keep those hours. Don’t continue to respond to an email immediately 10pm on Friday night. Now, if it was an emergency or something that had to be taken care right away, then yes, that’s different. But if you are just responding because you are on your computer, then stop doing that! Your good intentions are just showing the client that you are available at any time of the day or night.
3. Be the bad guy
Many times, clients think they know what they want, but they cannot describe it, and cannot do the actions that are needed from their end to make your project a success. Sometimes they hear advice from their friends, who do not understand how their business works and thinks the same advice works for everyone. Sometimes clients are too focused on the competition, and that’s all they want to do even though it’s not right for their business and their customers. Don’t be afraid to let your clients know why something won’t work. Being the bad guy in the situation is okay.
You are the expert. They come to you to take care of their business needs. Don’t just dismiss it and say ‘nope, won’t work.’ Explain why it won’t work. Talk to them in words they will understand and not industry jargon and try to find a suggestion or two on what can work.
4. Be a cheerleader
Be your clients’ biggest cheerleader. When they have a sale, win an award, a new website, etc., let others know about it. Even when you are networking, if someone is looking for a recommendation on who to hire, let them know how great your client is and why they should hire them. Always be proud of your clients!
5. It’s okay to say no
When you first access a client’s need for your service, it’s okay to say no to them if you are not a good fit for them or if there is no value you can add to what they already have. Don’t just accept a client because you need the money. Those clients never work out the way you want them to, and usually, you end up not doing an excellent job for them as they are not your ideal client.
6. Take out the trash
Among the amazing clients I have, every now and again a client shows their true colors, and you realize this client and you are not a good fit for each other. When this happens, it usually occurs weeks to only a couple of months working together. Most times you knew when starting with the client something wasn’t right. You’re a good person, and you want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. After all, what happened if you are wrong and the client turns out to be your best client ever!? Best clients rarely start from the place of you knowing something isn’t right.
Always listen to your intuition! If you find yourself in the situation where you realize you and the client are not a good fit with each other, immediately have a conversation with the client to try to resolve the situation. No matter how hard you work, some people are impossible to please.
7. Be open mined
Be open to your clients’ suggestions and comments. While you are an expert in your industry, they are the expert in their industry. Don’t shut them down because they think differently than you or it’s an idea you didn’t think of yourself. When you can establish a relationship with your clients’ where they communicate with you often and feel comfortable to bring new ideas and suggestions forward without you thinking you’re not good enough, that’s when the magic happens. You can learn so much from your clients’ expertise and ideas.
I love collaborating with my clients. We both walk away with a sense of pride and accomplishment after the task or project is completed.
Everything starts with the customer. I’m always looking at ways to make the customer experience to be of value to customers as well to Social Dragon. Here’s to another seven years! I cannot wait to discover the new lessons I will learn going forward.