Are You Easy to Do Business With?
Some businesses are very hard to interact with. I have dealt with insurance companies, for example, which seem to put up barriers to prevent customers from talking to people who can actually solve their problem. If you buy a consumer product, like a camera or software program, and it breaks, good luck trying to call the manufacturer.
Most service professionals would read this question and say, “Of course I’m easy to do business with. I call people back quickly and I answer my email messages within a few hours. I’m responsive!”
But you have you truly reduced all of the friction of doing business with you, in every respect?
Here’s an example of “easy to do business with.” Last year I started working out with a personal trainer, Jeff Della Penna, at Santa Fe Spa health club in Santa Fe, NM, where we have a home. Besides being very good, he was very easy to interact with. Here’s what I mean:
He gave me a free, one-hour initial training session and consultation. Then, when it came time to schedule further sessions, he told me, “My schedule for the next 4 weeks is on my clipboard, on the wall. Just grab it and write your name down in any slot you want.” Just like that—no trading voice messages or emails, just sign up whenever there’s a free time that suits you! Now that’s “frictionless” scheduling…a bit like choosing your own car to rent at National Car Rental.
Here’s what “ease of doing business with you” might mean for a professional advisor:
- For certain clients, you guarantee you’ll return phone calls and emails within a certain time period (e.g., 90 minutes or two hours, etc.)
- Your wisdom is accessible. I have noticed that the partners at some large firms I work with can get into the habit of deferring a response to a client question. They say, “We’ll consult internally and get back to you” or “We’ll put a deck together on that topic for you”—rather than giving their best answer on the spot and then offering to go deeper. Executives want a great conversation, not a stream of lengthy memos or PowerPoint decks!
- The cycle times for dealing with you are short. If clients ask for a proposal, do you get something brief but to-the-point back to them in a few days? Or does it take weeks? If they ask you to review something that’s important, can you manage to get to it rapidly?
- There is flexibility in your schedule to accommodate “walk ins.” I find it’s essential to maintain some slack in my schedule to provide some flexibility to clients who may need to meet on short notice (and that slack always gets filled, by the way!). Some doctors do this—they keep some appointment slots open each day—and it’s a lifesaver if you need a same-day appointment. Others tell you to come in three days from now, even though you’ve got a raging fever!
- Do you try and do things for your clients that you know are high-value for them but inexpensive for you to deliver? The result can be great value for the client and a good margin for you. Examples could include sharing pre-existing data, offering to be available for phone coaching, and so on.
- Is your website frictionless? Is it easy to find information, download a bio, access videos, etc.? Is it also set up to easily share your content with others?
What have you done to make it easy for clients to have a relationship with you and do business with you?