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Avoid Unhappy Clients with a Few Simple Steps

1. Avoid unhappy clients with a few simple steps

  • Give realistic expectations and deadlines. I know it is hard to tell a customer something will take a month when they think it should be done in a matter of days and that even after it’s done it may be months before they see any results. But, if you don’t give yourself enough time to complete their project properly, you’ll be stressed, the project will suffer and you’ll probably miss the deadline anyway and then they will be unhappy early in the project. If you give a deadline that is reasonable and then beat it, they will be ecstatic and will have a better attitude as they wait for results. You also have to give the client deadlines for information or materials they need to give you in order for you to meet your deadlines. Make sure they understand if they don’t meet those deadlines, your deadlines will be extended by the same amount of time they are late. Starting off on the right foot always makes for a happier customer and smoother project.
  • Educate your customer on what you are doing. You don’t have to go into major detail that they won’t understand. But, you should be able to explain what you are doing in simple enough terms that they will feel they have learned something and are more invested in the project. Just like a mechanic who explains (in terms you understand) what is wrong with your car instead of just saying your flibberdy jibbet needs a new flugelbinder. If the client feels like they understand what you are doing, they will question and doubt you less because they will trust you and won’t feel like you are taking advantage of them.
  • Over-communicate. I can’t stress this enough. The worst thing for a customer is not hearing from you as the project progresses. If they don’t hear from you, they will assume you aren’t doing anything. If they think you are ignoring them or not making progress, they will look for things that are “wrong” and get themselves all worked up. The worst thing that can happen is for a client to have to call you to find out what is going on. Send them regular updates and use a tool such as Basecamp to record your deadlines and theirs. Trying to do everything through email can become confusing and cumbersome when working on anything but the smallest project.

2. What to do if your client is unhappy

  • Set up a meeting for a time when they will have your undivided attention for as long as they need. Tell them you are ready to listen to their concerns and want them to explain everything they are concerned about while you just listen and take notes. Let them talk until they wear themselves out or feel they have expressed all of their concerns. Don’t interrupt or try to argue any point while they are venting. Just take notes and let them talk. Once they are finished, say “I want to make sure I understand your concerns. I have noted that your concerns are ____”. Repeat back the major points of concern. (Sidebar – this is also a great tactic to use when you are fighting with your wife or girlfriend.) Once they agree that those are their issues, take the list one issue at a time and either explain why the item is the way it is or work to find a compromise or solution that they will be happy with. End the meeting with a review of the solutions and deadlines for when they will be complete.
  • Never point fingers or get angry yourself. If you point fingers or get angry, you give the client license to do the same. You can say the client missed a deadline without sounding accusatory. Instead of saying “Well you missed your deadline by 5 days so we were 5 days late too” you can say “I see there was a 5 day delay in our receipt of the product list which pushed our deadline by 5 days”. You are saying the same thing but without sounding accusatory. Their response will be much different to a statement that simply sounds factual than one that sounds like blame.

3. What to do if your client is still unhappy

  • If you have tried to resolve the issue with the client and have had no luck, you should have someone that you can bring in as back up. Regardless of who the person is, you should introduce them as someone who is an expert or who has authority. This will make the client feel like their issue has been escalated to someone higher in the food chain, even if it really hasn’t. It many cases it also helps if this person is of the opposite sex as you because it will change the dynamic of the conversation. It also helps to have an attractive female on staff (but only if they are knowledgeable too).
  • If all else fails, be prepared to fire the client. Even if they are a high dollar client, if they are generating 25% of your revenue but taking up 65% of your time, it doesn’t make sense to keep the client. If you just can’t resolve their issues and have done everything possible, you need to be prepared to refund a portion of their money (or maybe all of it) and have an amicable break up. You may even refer them to someone else that can handle their project. You don’t want to get in a downward spiral where you are offering free services to make up for issues they perceive or may have even caused. They will most likely never be completely happy with your services and therefore won’t refer new business. Also, if they know you will give them something for free if they complain, they will always find something to complain about.

Jon Clark is an SEO Specialist and founder of PPC For Hire – an Internet Marketing Company catering to small and medium sized businesses in San Diego, CA.

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If You Really Love Them, Kick Them to the Curb!

I just had drinks with my ex last night.  We ended up talking about life, our kids, their friends…

One of our best (kid) friends with very liberal and “understanding” parents, was an all-league athlete and scholar in high school, and could have been a male model like his dad, but he gained about 75 extra pounds.  He now is 24 years old, and after being fired from a retail store (which is really hard to do) started a business promoting raves.  That doesn’t apparently make much of an income, and is about as healthy a lifestyle as being a rock musician, and he is now unemployed and living with his parents.

Steve Jobs was put up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college, and was fired from the very company he founded.  I think that there is no one on earth that is not impacted by his accomplishments.

My eldest daughter was the valedictorian at a very prestigious high school, has a black belt in karate, speaks a few languages, could pose for the cover of Vogue, and can’t get out of a lease that is killing her at her private Jesuit University of San Diego so her mother or I have to bail her out again at the age of 22?

Jerry West was terribly abused as a child, beaten with a belt buckle and ended up having to purchase and carry a pistol under his bed to keep his father from beating his sister with an axe handle.  He was a hall of fame player, and a hall of fame coach in basketball.

Charlie Sheen.   Say no more.

My wife survived cancer when she was 14.  She is now the Vice President and Director of a corporate travel management entity that is part of a global operation in 37 countries and employs well over 6000 people.

They say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  I truly believe that.  When talking about my daughters and the possibility that their mom might lose her health insurance, I was struck simultaneously by a “dad’s” protectionism (I need to help out somehow) and my own dad’s reality; you’re 22 years old; get a freeking job and you’ll have your own health insurance.

My ex (being the ever extraordinarily codependent enabling mother) countered with “well things are tougher now.”

Really?  Things are tougher than when I grew up with the shadow of the great depression? My father had to drop out of Cal Berkeley when he was 23 to get a job to help support his parents.   Things are tougher than when I had to live with people like Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter as presidents?  They are tougher than fighting my way to and home from school every day?  Tougher than going to sleep fearing that the air raid siren was going to go off any second because Khrushchev stopped pounding his shoes on the podium of the United Nations and  grabbed the red button?

I grew up in the days when one had a paper route at the age of 10.  I canvassed the neighborhood dropping flyers to get weekend jobs gardening.  I had my first real job at a chemical factory after school when I was old enough to drive there.  In college I took wedding photographs on weekend days, and worked in the processing plant at night.  Things are tougher now?

There are certain things that we can do to, and for our children.  Gary Radnich said it well today; perhaps the kindest thing we could ever do for a child is kick them to the curb (lovingly) and make them fend for themselves.  I have a dear friend that had to literally do that to his eldest son.  He was addicted to several things, couldn’t maintain any semblance of a work life, and came begging to his dad to give him “one last chance.”  He said no.  He meant it.  He literally gave him a sleeping bag and showed him the door.

Several months later, after he had hit his “bottom” or catharsis or whatever you call it, the kid came back cleaned up on his own, and is now the number one salesperson at his dad’s construction company, and the heir apparent to the family business.

Spare the rod, spoil the child?  Killing with kindness?  You figure it out.

 

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Maximize Meetings- 5 Steps to Motivation

It’s conference time. You’ve selected San Diego as your location, and you begin perusing the specs of your location options. Golf course: Check.Swimming pool: CheckBanquet hall: CheckWindowless meeting rooms guaranteed to put participants into a coma? Stop right  there.
If you haven’t noticed, at most conferences, there are always a few participants playing hooky from the breakout sessions. And the ones who do show up begin nodding off at around 2:00 p.m. Punitive measures are hardly likely to amp up the motivation.So what can you do?Whether it’s a breakout session at a sales meeting, a weeklong conference or a single full-day meeting, maximize the motivation and energy of the actual meetings.

1. Choose a location that has outstanding meeting room facilities. Having facilities staff drag in a screen on a tripod just won’t cut it anymore. Give your presenters the environment and equipment they need to deliver a powerful presentation.  Choose a location that has meeting rooms with integrated systems and drop-down screens. Look for San Diego meeting rooms that reflect the quality of the work you expect.

2. Hold a pre-meeting with presenters. Allow them to familiarize themselves with the facilities and technology available to them. Have presenters sketch out their agendas and activities. Hold them accountable for fully utilizing the technology and tools provided.

3. Assign pre-work. Ideal pre-meeting work is brief, requires action (not just thought) and is meaningful. In addition, it should be made clear to participants how the pre-work will be used in the meeting. For example, a good pre-meeting assignment requires participants to locate (or gather from customers) numerical data that will be incorporated into a chart of graph at the meeting.  A poor pre-meeting assignment requires participants to show up with opinions. There is no action required and they are likely to do the assignment in the elevator on the way to the meeting, if at all.

4. Market the meeting. Have presenters send out preview information about topics and activities, including how the participants’ pre-meeting assignments will be used. At your presenters’ pre-meeting, you will have ensured that the topics and activities are, in fact, worth previewing. 5.Surprise participants with something fun in the last half hour of the meeting. Forego the usual cookies and coffee and have hot appetizers instead. Hold a drawing for dinner, a round of golf, or a show. At least that will give truants a reason to feel bad about missing the meeting!

Jessica writes about a wide variety of topics.  She especially enjoys writing about business. You can learn more about San Diego Meeting Rooms at http://www.palacasino.com/

 

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You just don’t boo the starting line-up

This is the greatest moment in “America’s game” and one that you haven’t been even involved in since 2002.  The last time you won one was about the year I was born, and I’m considered a fossil by most.  The fact that you lost more games than you won throughout the entire month of August and it took a total melt-down by San Diego for you to get into the playoffs…

The first thing the fans do is Boo the entire starting lineup of Texas, with the exception of Benji Molina – the only one on Texas who has ever “done anything wrong”  to our team (and not intentionally – HE PLAYED HIS HEART OUT FOR US).

WTF?

Have you not heard Josh Hamilton’s story and cried?  I did when he had to pawn his wife’s wedding ring for coke, and then later came back clean and sober.   There are 24 other stories on that team, probably better than the average schlep in the stands that has the audacity to boo them.

We are lucky to be alive, let alone in a world series.  They are also blessed to be our competitors.  For (whatever you consider to be your comfortable equivalent of God)’s sake.  Thank you lucky stars you can afford tickets and give your opponent some respect.  Just like Philly, he may be “better than you” but we could still win.   I think it might take all the Karma we can produce to effect that.  Wishing you opponent ill is NOT GOOD KARMA!!!

Those ignorant little so and so’s with their 3 martini lunches at ‘MoMo’s” could cost us a very humbling gut shot.  I don’t think we can count on 6 more 18 run games.   I will certainly understand it if Texas wins.  I humbly apologize for our disrespect.

 

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