One of the secrets to good client service is knowing your clients and their needs. After all, you don’t want to send a client a clerical candidate who doesn’t know their phone system, or send them a birthday card 3 months early or late. So it’s a good idea to develop a client information system to keep all this useful info at the ready. (If it helps, think of it as building a dossier on your clients for a spy mission.)
You can keep your information in a spreadsheet, a dedicated customer relationship management system or in the Sales screen in COATS. (We recommend the last suggestion.) Start by entering all the information you currently have on each client and see where there are gaps in your knowledge. Then set about filling those gaps by learning more about your clients.
Here are a few suggestions for info to gather and keep in your system. Of course, you can probably think of a few more yourself, so please don’t view this list as exhaustive.
- What are their work hours? Do they have times they don’t want to be disturbed or times they set aside to answer the phone or talk with visitors?
- Who are their previous employers and co-workers?
- Who do they report to now, and what do you know about that person?
- What companies do they currently work with, and what do you know about them?
- When is their birthday—and do they like to celebrate it or ignore it?
- What is their family life like? Don’t assume that all married people have kids, or that all unmarried people are single.
- What causes and charities do they support?
- What hobbies do they have and what do they like to do for recreation?
- What are their priorities at work and, if you can find this out, why do they have those priorities?
- What are their preferences for communication: do they like the phone, email, direct mail, etc.?
- What is their preferred level of information: big picture, smallest detail or somewhere in between?
- Do they prefer a formal or informal style of conversation?
Profits (how you can profit them and vice versa)
- What do they need from you? What would they really, really like from you?
- How can you make their job and/or their life easier? If you’re unsure of how to answer this, start by thinking how you could make it more difficult and work from the opposite of that.
- How can you make them look better to their supervisor, their co-workers, their direct reports, etc.?
- How can your relationship with them enrich you both: who can you put them in touch with and who can they put you in touch with?
This is a lot of information, to be sure, and gathering and recording it probably seems like a major undertaking. But it’s this kind of knowledge of a client that can nurture a strong relationship that not only profits you and the client now, but leads to more profitable relationships as your client tells others what great customer service they got from you.
What other bits of data would you gather about your prospective clients? Let us know in the comments!