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How to Put Your Clients First...

Small but subtle differences in the way you interact with clients can make all the difference when it comes to securing new and repeat business.

In this article we highlight some key behavioural mistakes which can affect your ability to establish strong working relationships.

Who Comes First When Introducing Clients?

Should you say: “Can I introduce my boss, Mr. Stevens. Mr. Stevens, this is Ms. Toney, our new client?”

This is a subtle, but key mistake. The client is the most important person and should come first. So the correct way of phrasing this is: "Ms. Toney, this is my boss, Mr. Stevens." Not only will this be more warmly received, but it will put the client on the front foot in the introduction and subsequent conversation.

Who Goes First When Entering a Room? 

You, the host, should enter the room first. The client may be uncertain of where to sit, or be concerned about protocol. If you're in the room first, you can direct visitors as they enter.

Should You Introduce Yourself?

Absolutely. Do not wait for an uncomfortable atmosphere to develop. Even if you're shy, you should be as forthcoming as possible.

What if You Have Forgotten a Clients Name?

If you can not remember a name, it is dangerous to avoid tackling this problem. Firstly, you will be concerned throughout a conversation of being discovered. Secondly, if another joins the conversation the situation could deteriorate as the client will expect you to introduce yourself, but you will be unable to do so.

There are a number of ways to get round this:

  • You can say your name when approaching. This will prompt them to say their name, and it will also help them in the event they have forgotten your name
  • Just be honest about it: “My mind has just gone blank, your name is? Of course it is. Thank you Dan"
  • If you haven't yet approached the client, find a colleague who can remind you discreetly of their name

When in conversation with a client, try to say their name deliberately at least three times whilst looking directly at them. The chances of remembering their name the next time you meet will improve dramatically.

What is the Right Distance to Stand When in Conversation?

About three feet is the right distance. Much further away, and you would be talking too loudly; any closer and you may unwittingly invade personal space. Distance does depend on the culture you are engaged in, so whilst this is true for most Western countries, if you are travelling further afield, it may be useful to seek guidance on cultural differences.

How Do You Introduce Clients in Conference Calls?

It's even more critical to announce all present when having a conference call. Ideally to cover name, role and any relevant areas of expertise or responsibilities. If someone joins the conference call late, then they should be introduced at the earliest available opportunity.

Should You Interrupt Phone Calls?

You must allow phone calls to take their natural course and therefore avoid interruption at all costs. The only two reasons to disrupt is either if you need to relay a message specifically related to that particular client conversation, or if there's something desperately urgent or critical to bring to the attention of the caller. Otherwise, you need to be patient and wait for the call to finish.

Should You Keep Your Mobile On During Client Meetings?

It is extremely rude to take phone calls when meeting with clients. It is the best way of ensuring they feel unimportant. If you are waiting for an urgent call, give your phone to a trusted colleague and brief them on fielding the call in question. If they have to, they allow them to come into the meeting to interrupt, but make sure that they are equipped to field the call and only to interfere in the most serious of situations.

By following these steps and putting your clients first you can be confident that they will feel valued when in your company. This is the first step towards client satisfaction and retention.

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