Communicating and interacting with clients is something that we do every day in the staffing business. It can be very rewarding and intimidating at the same time. Often times you’re dealing with personalities that are very much different than your own, which can be a challenge. Also, in this day and age we are more than likely communicating through e-mail which can be even more of a challenge to interact effectively considering the difficulty of expressing tone in e-mails.
When I am first “breaking the ice” with a client I try to be as natural, professional, and to-the-point as possible. I feel that coming off with an “approachable” attitude is key. If I am having my first interaction via e-mail I still use this same approach, but really try to make sure that all of their questions were answered. I keep it professional as well by using proper spelling and grammar, never slang. The art of grammatical correctness in e-mails is becoming a lost one. It’s something I always notice when I am receiving correspondence, which serves as a near-constant reminder to make sure I do not fall into this pattern. Plus, it’s such an easy thing to make sure is done correctly. We all have spell-check!
In the business of staffing there are many clients that we work with sporadically. With those clients I do my very best to touch base with them at least once a month. If possible, I try to see them in person during these check-ins. With clients that I work with on a more consistent basis, I try to touch base with them at least weekly just to be sure that all of their needs are being met.
There are times when conflicts arise and a client may not be happy with the services that are being provided. There are three things that I feel are very important in this instance. First, I make sure that I address the issue(s) as soon as possible. Leaving it on the back burner only intensifies the frustration. Second, if it is a mistake that I made, I own it. I take responsibility and take whatever reasonable steps I can to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. Third, I follow-up to make sure whatever steps I’ve taken have solved the conflict or issue. I feel that making the client feel that you honestly care and that you will take the steps necessary will ensure that you will have a lasting business relationship. And because I do care about them and their business, these are steps that are very important for me to fulfill.
The two things that I think can really hinder a relationship are the following: firstly, poor quality of information. If a client feels that you are not answering their questions that will move on to the next available resource. Make sure that you answer questions as accurately and directly as possible. If you don’t know the answer, do some research instead of bluffing or stating that you don’t know. Try to find out for them. Secondly, information overload can be just as detrimental as too much information. Keep your correspondence concise (they’re just as busy as you), be a good listener, and usually things will work out in your favor as well as the clients.
Remember, the best customer service tools you can use is to be available for your clients and genuinely care about the success of their business!
Erin Gilligan, Account Executive