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Ask an Expert: how to show clients you care about their business

By Jon Gordon

Caring about customers is one of the best ways to differentiate your business and gain long-term consumer loyalty. But how can employers operationalize such a “soft” skill? Your best strategy is to teach your employees what caring about customers looks like in action and suggest specific tactics they can use. Here are some ways to show customers they’re important.

Be present. Most people have so many responsibilities and distractions that it’s tempting to listen to clients with only half an ear. You know how it is: you make appropriate noises during a client call (“Mmmhmm… I understand… No, that won’t be a problem…”) while typing emails to other clients. Being present says, “You’re my top priority right now.”

Touch base often. It’s simple: return calls and emails promptly. Try not to leave any unanswered emails or voice mails overnight. And be proactive with updates too.

See the good. Make an effort to stop thinking of customers as “annoying,” “needy,” “clueless,” or “a waste of my time.” Instead, choose to see them differently: “I admire how responsible he is with his company’s money.” Or, “Getting their business is a big win for our company.” Customers will appreciate the change in your attitude.

Don’t make it all about business. Make an effort to learn about clients on a personal level as well as a professional one and follow up on what you discover. People are surprised and pleased when you remember what’s going on with them — precisely because the assumption today is that most people don’t care about what’s going on outside their own bubbles.

Go the extra mile. Constantly look for ways to make the service you provide just a little bit better. Even actions that seem like nothing to you (such as walking a client to the door after a meeting) can mean a lot.

Jon Gordon is the author of The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All (jongordon.com).

This article was originally published in the April 2015 issue of CPA Magazine.