Yesterday I had a potential new client contact me enquiring about our services. She discussed what she needed and what she didn’t need and it was all very clear. When I asked what sort of budget she had for the project, it was quite obvious that her budget and our quote would be quite far apart, or maybe I should say really far apart. Not that I want to charge exorbitant rates for our services, but more so, I am learning that we need to value what we do and not grossly undercut our rates just for the sake of a new project, one that may actually cost us to deliver.
What became important to me was that although we were unlikely to be able to help her directly I wanted to ensure we could help her indirectly, so I asked her plenty of questions and it became clear she could get the project done for less than she wanted to spend, if she did the job herself. As I delved deeper with questions, she remembered she even had the equipment to do the job. I explained to her that I was more than happy to assist with answers to any questions, in fact I would even be happy to meet with her and show her how to get the best results, all for no fee.
My theory for doing this was to ensure that she felt we were there to help. I think too many times business owners and operators have two major issues which to me seem just short sighted. The first is, a client doesn’t have the budget or they can’t afford us so we are unable to help, sorry. The second being that I can’t even offer advice or an alternative if you’re not prepared to pay for my time. I have personally experienced this many times, especially in the retail environment.
Sure we have to be weary of those that may take our service and essentially our kindness for granted and abuse the opportunity so maybe its gut feel or experience that comes into play a little here.
I honestly believe that we all need to think longer term, especially in these times where business seems more competitive than maybe it was. In my recent case it was clear the client didn’t have the funds now, but by assisting her, one day if/when she does have a bigger budget (maybe based on the savings she makes now) show would love to use our services. I could hear the gratitude in her voice, she will hopefully remember us and better still tell her colleagues and associate’s about how we have helped her and no amount of money can buy that.
I now hope that she does take up my offer in allowing us to assist her and I look forward to hearing from her again. We may not make a single cent this time around, but I’m sure it will be made up over time and who knows what it could lead to.
So when does a person become a customer? Is it when they have invested money into our business and our services or is it simply when they make contact with us? I think the answer is actually up to us, the provider of the service to determine when our customer service actually starts.