The dirty little secret about great client relations is that there is no dirty little secret.
It takes time, effort and practice. You have to want – really, truly want – to create a positive, productive relationship with every client you represent. Without that intention you will wind up with mediocre clients and mediocre client relations.
There are, however, some shortcuts. Here are two good ones.
1. Look Them in the Eye
Poets tell us eyes are windows to the soul. Psychologists say we are drawn to eyes because they are the focal point of the face. Eye contact is powerful because it shows we are paying attention. And everyone – especially a client – wants to be the center of attention.
People who maintain eye contact are perceived as reliable, warm, sociable, honest, confident and credible.
So when you sit down with a new client and look them directly in the eyes, you are communicating all of these awesome qualities right from the start.
Here are some pointers to improve your eye contact skills:
- Don’t stare. Eye contact conveys interest and makes people feel good. Staring conveys hostility and makes people feel bad.
- Talk with your eyes. If you’re in a group, shift your gaze from person to person to follow the flow of conversation.
- Be a mirror. Our brains have mirror neurons that are triggered when we see something happening to someone else. This allows us to empathize and understand how the other person is feeling simply by looking into their eyes.
- Avoid excessive blinking. It is a sign of submissiveness. Or weirdness.
- Open and close the conversation with a good, long look. This brackets the conversation in a positive way.
2. Call Them By Their Name
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language,” says legendary name-caller Dale Carnegie.
Our names connect us to our individuality and identity. Hearing it spoken aloud is validating. It is a sign of courtesy.
“When someone remembers our name after meeting us, we feel respected and more important,” says Washington Post business writer Joyce Russell. “It makes a positive and lasting impression on us. To not remember a name, especially when someone has had to repeat it several times, is to make that person feel slighted.”
- Work on remembering people’s names. Practice makes perfect. When someone says their name, listen. Then repeat their name out loud. Say their name every time you see them. Greet them by name. Call them by name when you pass in the hallway. If you forget their name, no problem. Simply ask them again. Then repeat the above steps. Repetition helps create patterns in your brain.
- Don’t use a person’s nickname unless they want you to. You can always say, “You prefer being called Chuck, right?”
- When you’re on the phone, jot down the caller’s name. Writing it down will help you remember. Use their name when saying hello and goodbye.
- If you’re going into a meeting, try to get everyone’s name in advance. Create a name/seating chart to help keep everyone straight.
- Begin emails with the recipient’s name. It softens and personalizes whatever comes next.
- Use mnemonic devices. Come up with a way to link the person with the name. Example: Tom is toweringly tall.
Double the impact by looking a client in the eye while saying their name. And shaking their hand. And thanking them for their business.
Got any other sure-fire tips to improve client relations? Send us your comments.
- Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/career-coach-the-power-of-using-a-name/2014/01/10/8ca03da0-787e-11e3-8963-b4b654bcc9b2_story.html
- Marketing coach Linda Coles LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130411211410-33236097-use-their-name-it-s-important
- Michigan State University http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/eye_contact_an_introduction_to_its_role_in_communication
- Study Body Language http://www.study-body-language.com/importance-of-eye-contact.html
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney who has practiced North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact him at email@example.com.