I recently sold my house. Despite reading my fair share of Architectural Digest, I really don’t know much about real estate. I’ve run and sold small businesses, but this was my first real estate transaction. Basically, I didn’t know what I didn’t know…or should know. I guess that’s the point; I just didn’t know. The value of hiring a real estate professional wasn’t to sell the house, it was to be the expert.
I’m an experienced businessman; I negotiate, sell, and close transactions every day. I suppose I could “sell” a house, but ask me if a particular red flag on an inspection report is a “make-or-break, oh-sh*t-buyers-walk,” issue and I’d be stumped. I’m paying a real estate professional not for the transaction, but for the expertise. To make the right decision, I need the right information, and remember, I don’t know what I don’t know.
Actually, it’s more than the right information…right? It’s the right information with the proper amount of confidence. That “talk-myself-off-the-ledge” sort of confidence that, when heard, makes it seem okay.
It’s the same in any client services business. Our clients aren’t ultimately paying for a website. They’re paying for expertise, peace of mind, solutions to problems, reports to their bosses, sighs of relief. The extent to which we understand the internal angst of our clients, the better service we’ll provide.
And that’s the business we’re in. It’s not a client service(s) business, it’s a client service business. Sure, they’re paying for the end result — if I didn’t actually close on my house I’d be the emotional equivalent of 😢😭🤢😡 — but ultimately, really, in their heart-of-hearts, our clients are paying for our ability to assuage their fears. And trust me, they have fears, doubts, misconceptions…they don’t know what they don’t know.
Be the expert. Consult. Advise. Inform. Placate. And if we don’t know the answer, make it up…I’m joking…kind of. No, seriously, find out the answer, but act professional. I didn’t really care if I had to fix the roof or not, I just wanted to be assured that it wouldn’t tank the deal. We have to listen to what our clients are saying, and then listen again to perceive what they’re actually fearing.
Question: "Does this CMS have [XYZ] feature” is often translated to “I'm so strapped for time, there's no way I can manage this website if I can't update this page quickly.”
Answer: “This is the most efficient CMS on the market, we have 15 clients on it and they constantly talk about how easy it is to maintain their site…in fact, they rarely have to call us to make any changes.”
We are client-emotions managers. We aren’t building a $100k piece of software, we’re building a $100k cornerstone of trust. Be the expert; be trustworthy; be humble; be informed; be perceptive.
The result? Great work: yes. Reduced stress-inducing-ahhhhhhhhhhs: no doubt. Long-term, profitable, satisfying client relationships: you betcha.
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