Eleven Steps to Putting Clients First
11/9/2012 7:47:00 AM
We put the customer first. We've heard it (and probably said it) so many times it's become a clichÃ©. And yet, while we pay lip service to the idea, few companies truly put it into practice. The fact is, we're so concerned with bottom lines, profit margins, and paying the bills (at work and at home!) that we instinctively put ourselves first. But as counterintuitive as it may seem, that anxious sense of self-preservation may be exactly what'sholding you back.
When you really put the customer first, and put your own needs second, a whole lot of other things naturally fall into place. Tough decisions practically make themselves. Since you're no longer pitting the client's needs against your own, relationships are based on transparency and honesty. People like and trust you, and referrals flow freely.
If there is a magic bullet, putting clients first is it. It has the power to change your life, to transform your business, and to bring about financial security.
Weshould know. JoAnn and I built our thriving businessThose Callawaysin a tough industry that's had more than its share of challenges. Our book, Clients First: The Two Word Miracle describes our late-in-life entry into the world of real estate, how we had our "Clients First" revelation, and how it has impacted our professional and personal lives. It also gives readers step-by-step advice on how to put their own customers first, as well as why each one works.
JoAnn and I entered real estate in 1996 when interest rates were almost 9 percent. Since then, we have lived through a bubble and survived a horrible economic downturnand managed to prosper through both, while many of our fellow realtors never recovered. We have sold over a billion dollars' worth of homes.
And we credit it all to our remarkableand remarkably simplediscovery of putting clients first, whether they were individuals or institutions. Even through the darkest days, our clients kept calling our phones and coming to our open houses. They took care of us just as we had taken care of them.
But what does putting clients first REALLY look like? Read on forall eleven parts of our transformative Clients First principle:
Step One: Make the Commitment. For many people, "commitment" is a scary wordand for good reason. It implies that you have accepted responsibility, that you are "locked in," and (sometimes) that you have given up an aspect of your freedom. For all of those reasons, and many more, most commitments should not be taken lightly. But here's the good news: Because sincere commitments require you to step up and take a stand, they often lead to great things.
Step Two: Speak the Commitment. Step OneMakethe Commitmentwon't ultimately mean much if you don't share your intentions with others. If you say nothing, your commitment will begin to wither like a potted flower that isn't watered. However, speaking your commitment gives you strength, and it's instrumental in affirming (and reaffirming) to yourself what your goals are and why.
Step Three: Keep the Commitment. Some days, you'll want to say, "To heck with this difficult person! He can fend for himself from now on!" Or you might just be so tired and overwhelmed that you're tempted to cut some corners and let some non-priorities slide. You must try as hard as you can to resist the temptation. Clients First is something you must consciously recommit to every day. Remember, it's usually not the big things that trip us up; it'sthe little steps we miss.
Step Four: Get Yourself Out of the Way. Remember, your job is to be a champion for your clients, to solve their problemsand find them satisfying solutions. Your job is not to be the most important person in the room or to put others down. Believe me, when you take care of yourclients first and foremost, they will take care of you through their loyalty andappreciation.
Step Five: Set the Monkey Down. â¦the monkey that's riding your back in the form of responsibility and pressure, that is! If you're like most people, you probably feel burdened with a myriad of worries, fears, and obligations. You assume that "it's all up to me." However, if you want to successfully care for your clients, you can't be expending the majority of your mental energy on yourself.
I'm not saying that putting the monkey down is an easy or instantaneous process. Far from it. But here's the beauty of Clients