PHOENIX, Nov. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The business world is full of gurus who advise you to cut the "bottom 10 percent"—of employees, suppliers, and yes, even clients—because these lackluster organizations and people are only weighing you down. Joseph Callaway disagrees.
"In over fourteen years, we have never gotten rid of a single client—even when we secretly wished we could—and we believe this no-fire strategy has contributed significantly to our success," says Callaway, who, along with his wife, JoAnn, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Clients First: The Two Word Miracle (Wiley, October 2012, ISBN: 978-1-1184127-7-0, $21.95). "Putting clients first has the power to change your life and transform your business."
Here's how to incorporate the Clients First method into your own business:
Make the clients first commitment. Really putting clients first is a big commitment—and not firing customers is only a small part of it. You need to put your own needs second, base all of your interactions on transparency and honesty, and make it your priority to always do what's best for the client. Then the tough decisions will practically make themselves!
Realize that keeping clients is just plain practical. In a tough economy, you need all the clients and commissions you can get. When you make the choice to stand by all of your frazzled, frustrated clients, you'll eventually reap financial and personal rewards.
Learn to like people. Your goal should be to invite clients within arm's length and make each one less of a stranger. Ask about their kids, their pets, their hobbies and their jobs.
"Sometimes it's not easy to like certain individuals," Callaway acknowledges. "But if you get out there and engage, you'll find that most of them are just like you: filled with worries, hopes, and dreams. And if handled properly, difficult clients will become fans for life, who go on to tell the most people how wonderful you are, and what lengths you went to on their behalf."
Expect out-of-control emotions. Instead of using emotional outbursts as reasons to sever a business relationship, think of alleviating the client's worries, insecurities, and fears as part of your job description.
"Putting the client first means not reflecting their turmoil back to them," says Callaway. "Resist the urge to snap back. Instead, let animosity and frustration end when they reach you."
Consider your "karma bank." Putting clients first means serving every client, regardless of the return on your investment of time, energy, emotions, and money.
"We like to believe there is a karma bank, and when a client is a real pill, we remind ourselves that we're making deposits," explains Callaway. "And while we've learned not to have firm expectations when it comes to karma, our efforts and goodwill usually come back to us multiple times over."
When all else fails, look for the lesson. Occasionally, you'll encounter a client who isn't acting out because he is simply worried or stressed or preoccupied—he's just a downright nasty person. Just keep working hard, telling the truth, and seeking the client's best interest. And in the process, look for a lesson that might help you in the future.
"Overall, the most important thing you can learn from dealing with awful people is the art of letting it go," Callaway shares. "To do otherwise—to continually engage with a toxic person—is to let him or her win…often at the expense of your peace of mind and sanity."
"Because we stayed the course and didn't fire any clients, our phones kept ringing even through the darkest days," Callaway concludes. "Our clients took care of us just as we had taken care of them. Trust me, everyone wins when you strive to serve instead of expending your energy on figuring out which clients 'work' for you."
About the Authors:
Joseph Callaway and JoAnn Callaway are coauthors of the New York Times bestseller Clients First: The Two Word Miracle and founders of the real estate company Those Callaways.
For a review copy of the book or an interview with the authors, please contact Dottie DeHart, DeHart & Company Public Relations, at (828) 325-4966 or Dottie@dehartandcompany.com.
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SOURCE Joseph Callaway