Five Ways to Lose a Customer
In many ways, the relationship between a client and their upgrade team is like a marriage. When an upgrade project starts, everything is new, you do not really know each other, and for the most part, everyone is on their best behavior. As time goes on, that relationship blossoms. With nurturing and respect, the relationship can become a permanent one, one that benefits both parties. Yet, with the wrong interactions, it can go sour and lead to divorce.
1. Don’t Follow Through
The fastest way to lose a client is to fail at following through on what you said you would do. A few years ago, my husband and I went on a vacation. Prior to going, we purchased an international calling plan for both of our cell phones. As quickly as we returned, I called to cancel them. Having dealt with this telecommunications giant for a while, I knew to take down the date, time, and person’s name with whom I had spoken. What I failed to do was check my bill. Three months later, I noticed it was still being billed. Their customer support representative did not follow through on cancelling the international plan. I called, exasperated that I had paid extra for three months, and they said they would remove it and credit me. When I got the next bill, there was a credit; the international plan was still on the bill, because again, there was no follow through.
When you do not follow through with what you have agreed to do, it expresses to the client that you are not trustworthy. Your inattention to their needs says that you do not truly do not care about their project and business.
2. Ask Questions You Should Know the Answer To
Spouses should not have to ask each other what their favorite color is. Part of being in a strong relationship is taking note of the things that matter to each other, and remembering them.
In an upgrade, these can be somewhat simple things, like the expected go-live date. All parties involved in the project should know the date for go-live and be working diligently to meet that date.
Another example is, knowing their system before and after go-live, as some functionality will be added, and some may be taken away, as in the case when ISV products are dropped. Never ask questions such as, “Did you have this functionality in your old version?” When you have access to the old database. This leads your client to believe you are uninformed and not fully engaged in the project.
All conversations with the client are important, just as all conversations between spouses are important. While the topic discussed may not have lasting value, your engagement in the discussion does.
3. Miss Meetings and Appointments
Plan for client interactions keeping in mind all other things scheduled that day. Assume the meeting will go long and give it ample time on your calendar. Plan for other meetings ahead of it to run long as well. As my Dad always taught me, if you are on time, you are late. Be early.
Likewise, be prepared for the conversations. Review your notes, do your homework, and be able to discuss the project’s most current details in-depth.
4. Forget Their Name
Knowing your clients by first name is step one to forming a personal relationship. My name is often misspelled, mispronounced, and misunderstood. I have been called Stacy, Facie, Sadie, and a thousand other names. Each time it is misspoken I know I am dealing with someone who does not know me. Take the time to learn names, as well as the spelling and pronunciation of all client’s names.
Company names are just as important. Take note of how your client refers to their company. Is it by abbreviation, by the first word only, or some other name? If you were walking in and out of their office every day, you would know. So make it a point to know even when you are engaged in the project remotely.
5. Do Shabby Work
In NAV Upgrades, it is not so much the number of hours you work on a project that says, “I care” to a client as much as delivering good quality work. For example, NAV pages that have 20 tiny gray buttons for actions on one ribbon not only looks rushed, but shows that you did not consider the difficulties this would cause the user. Take the time to add action images and be sure the captions show. Consider it a term of endearment.
Further, expectations matter. Sometimes it is important to adjust those expectations to what can be delivered, and express why it is different from what your client wants. Come to a common ground on these decisions, much as you would compromise with a spouse. Anything less than what your client expects is not quality, even if you do the job at 100% accuracy.
Often it is not finding customers that is difficult, but in keeping them, and keeping them happy. It is important to treat all customers with respect and transparency to ensure a productive relationship. A lot like a marriage. At ArcherPoint, we strive to make Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrades a successful event and form lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with all of our clients.