A couple years ago I got the “Dreaded Email.”
It was from a past client who had done my 9-month marketing program, and he was asking for his money back.
My stomach sank as I read his email accusing me of not delivering what I had promised in the program he’d attended about two years before. He was not succeeding and was blaming it on me.
So I dug into my files and learned a few things.
First, he had missed more sessions of the program than anyone else. He had never completed his website despite extensive coaching on it, and I also learned that he showed up sporadically for his mastermind group sessions. In other words, he had done “his program” not “my program.”
Since he had not lived up to his part of the bargain, I explained this to him and ultimately did not offer a refund.
Will this ever happen to you? I hope not, but you can reduce the chances of having a dissatisfied client if you are focused on client success.
Client success means helping your clients reach the goals they hired you to help them achieve. A big part of the responsibility lies with the coach/consultant/mentor, but it also lies with the client. When you contract to work with a client you should make clear who is responsible for doing what in the relationship.
So below I’ve summarized some ideas as to what the coach/consultant/mentor can do. I’ve also made some suggestions for clients, too.
Here are what I see as the key responsibilities for any coach/consultant/mentor:
1. To tell the truth and be real about what I can and cannot do to help a client. Many people are tempted to exaggerate a bit, but I’ve ultimately found that underselling is a better approach. Clients already have high expectations and often feel that the coach/consultant/mentor will have “The Answer.” Instead, I assure them that we can find the answers together and that they’ll have to do a lot of work to get the success they want.
2. To keep things in present time, not too far into the future. Some clients spend a lot of time looking to the future and imagining the results they’ll get or sometimes imagining how difficult the process will be. But this can be distracting. My question is always, “What do we need to work on now to move you one step forward in your marketing?”
3. To be accessible and available. Nothing bugs a client more than not being able to reach you. This happened to me recently when a client’s emails were not being accepted by my email system. I devised a work-around, but it wasn’t enough and I ultimately lost the client. My goal is to respond to client emails within one to three hours. It really doesn’t take a lot of time to fit this in between appointments.
5. To provide resources and support systems. It’s unusual if I don’t point a client to a valuable resource in our sessions together. Sometimes it’s an article or blog post (mine or someone else’s), a recording or video, or an interview or other resource in the More Clients Club. My clients are looking for how-to’s, strategies and systems. We can’t always go into those in depth in a session, so these resources add a lot of value.
4. To take a stand for your client’s success. I often work with clients who have been struggling with their marketing for a long time without much success. They are stuck and often don’t feel hopeful or optimistic, and their efforts are often sporadic. But I wouldn’t have taken them on if I didn’t feel they had great potential. So I do everything possible to be encouraging, celebrate small wins and tell stores of clients who went through exactly what they’re going through now.
And here is what a client can do to increase the chances of success:
1. To attend each session committed to getting value. You’ll do this if you’ve made it a high priority. If you think of the coaching or program as “just something to get through” you won’t do the work required to get the results you want. I’m still somewhat surprised when clients (and more often) group participants simply don’t show up for sessions. They clearly haven’t taken Woody Allen’s sage advice: “80% of success is just showing up.”
2. To take responsibility for taking action. After every client meeting and after every group session I lead, I assign homework. Sometimes quite a bit of homework! It’s the client’s job to find the time to get that homework done. I try to emphasize that the value in the program is not mostly in our sessions together, but in practicing what you learn. To grow you must face failure.
3. To stay in touch with your coach/consultant/mentor. I typically conduct client sessions every two weeks. This gives them enough time to work on the assignment they received. But at the end of each session, I ask clients to “send me an email if they have any questions.” That’s an important part of my service. If the same benefit is made available to you, then take advantage of it, especially if you’re stuck and are not sure what to do next.
4. To be demanding of your coach/consultant/mentor. This is not a passive process where you just listen to your coach, try to do what they say and leave it at that. No, you want to be much more proactive. If you’re not getting what you need, let them know. If you want more challenge, tell them. Ultimately it’s you who is responsible for your results. But you’ll get a higher level of results if you really demand the support you deserve.
5. To be complete with the process once you’re done. Do this by having a closing discussion with your coach/consultant mentor. Talk about what results you’ve achieved and what worked and didn’t work. Acknowledge them for the support they gave you. And also write them a “client impact letter” telling your coach/consultant/mentor what results you got as a consequence of working with them. This really completes things and reminds you of the value you received.
I hope you’ve found these guidelines useful. If you follow them (both coach/consultant/mentor and client), you can expect to see a consistently higher level of results.
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