If you checked in with this blog over the last few weeks, you know I've been considering adopting a dog. We went through a whole debacle with all of these rescue agencies, trying to fill out paperwork and going back and forth with them. But we did it. There was one dog that we actually found in Chicago, went down and visited, and she came back with us in the SUV. She's a puppy! An 11-month-old named Layla. She's gorgeous, she's cute, she's a devil.
During these crazy times of spending more time than usual at home, having a puppy gives us something to do. An added bonus for me is that I get to walk her three times a day and I'm using that time to relax and also to listen to audio-books. I'm spending that time self-developing. I'm walking, getting exercise, and learning at the same time. It made me think about my business because recently I've landed a few new customers. It got me thinking, new customers are kind of like a new puppy. They're both exciting, new, and they have challenges that have to be met.
Today were going to explore how new customers can be like getting a new puppy.
You Have to Build Trust
First, you have to build trust. Now, when we brought the dog home, she was unsure because she experienced so many different environments. Layla was rescued from Texas, and chances are she was brought up in a truck, a car, or maybe a plane. And then she went to the rescue agency, who then took her to a foster home. Then from the foster, we picked her up and brought her into our home.
There are so many new situations that this poor dog has to get used to. It's going to take time to build trust. She has to trust us and we have to trust her. We have to trust her on a leash, we have to trust her in the backyard. Heck, we have to trust her when we're sitting upstairs and she's downstairs – because trust me, she can be naughty. But so far, she's been good. It's a new environment for her, and there are new rules and routines that have to be developed.
Having a new client is kind of the same thing. Trust has to be earned and it takes time.
You Have to Learn From Each Other
The second point is we have to learn from each other. The puppy has to teach me her signs like when she needs to go out, when she's hungry, and when she's scared. I have to learn those things and react to them. It's the same thing with a new client. Each one is an individual and they have different needs and different personalities.
You're going to be new to them, they're going to be new to you. It's a completely new environment. Maybe they had somebody working for them internally and now they're working outside with a third party vendor like you. There are new rules. For example, I had to learn how to bill clients. It's been different for each one. They have different payment systems, they have different terms, and rules that I've had to learn, and vice versa. They have to learn about what and how I charge. There are new routines of how often we speak or how communicate. Some clients like texts, some clients like email. It just depends.
I have multiple new clients. Some are very attentive and get things done where others need prodding. It's not that one's better than the other. It's just I have to learn how to work with them the way that they like to be worked with. Just like I do with my dog.
It Helps To Have Treats
The next thing is, it's a good idea to have treats. When I take Layla for a walk, we stop at every crosswalk, and I make her sit, and then I give her a treat. She knows not to jump out in the street in front of a car. If she does something positive, I reinforce it. If she does something negative, I say, “No.” I have to learn how to use those treats to help her better understand how she's supposed to react.
It's the same thing with clients. Your treats may be the way that you give them reports, it could be the way that you communicate, or what you deliver. But you have to make sure that they're getting positive reinforcement all the time so they understand the value that you provide to them.
Watch Like A Hawk
The next thing I have to do, especially with the puppy, is watch her like a hawk. She's cute when she sleeps but we've already caught her with a hair clip in her mouth, chewing that up. She's eating rope, balls, and all kinds of things. We have to make sure that she doesn't do anything that's going to harm her.
It's the same thing with your new customers. You have to make sure that you're paying attention to the signals that they're giving you. You can't take it personally, but you do have to understand what motivates them, what makes them happy. What kind of signals are they giving you? You have to watch them like a hawk but you have to be patient. You have to see those signals and react to them. If something negative happens (which most likely will), you have to do the best that you can to fix it.
Each Day Is a New Adventure
You have to remember that each day as a new adventure. One day we woke up and it was thunder-storming and raining outside. The dog was scared and we couldn't figure out how to get her to go outside. She didn't want to do it. So we don't know yet if she's afraid of thunderstorms. Some days she's a good dog, awhile others she's a crazy dog. But every single day is a new adventure. You don't know what's going on in her mind and you also don't know what she's been through.
It's the same thing with your clients. You have no idea if they've worked with other vendors who've taken advantage of them, maybe stole from them, maybe lied to them. Remember all of the things I talked about, earning trust, and having treats, and watching them like a Hawk, you have to make sure that you're paying attention every day. I guarantee it is going to be a new adventure. Circumstances change and you have to be willing to learn, grow, and adapt.
You have to realize that you and everybody who works on behalf of your business, whether they're an employee or a contractor, is a customer service representative. You have to make sure that it's super clear that your customer understands what they're getting, when to expect it, and how to adapt to changes. And, you have to know when to say yes or no, explain why that's acceptable.
The challenges of having a new puppy are that it's going to be a growing experience. She'll turn into a great dog someday, but it's a process. It's going to take some patience and some training. And sometimes it doesn't always work out. Some dogs actually have to be returned when the situation is not right for both of you,
Sometimes with new customers, you can try all of those things: build trust, learn from each other, have treats, watch them like a hawk, and treat each day as a new adventure. And sometimes it just doesn't work out.
But if you work hard at all of those things, you have patience, and you're diligent, in the end, the dog will love you unconditionally, all of its life. You want to try to get your customers to do as close to the same.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about how new customers can be like getting a new puppy. Are these tips for making your business better? What worked and what did not live up to your expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?
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