Providing ongoing, relationship-based advice or expertise to clients is not straightforward; especially while most of us try to avoid awkward and painful situations. Fear prevents us from building trust and loyalty. Embracing fear adds humility, selflessness and transparency to a client relationship. Being vulnerable allows a service provider to gain trust and confidence, adding power to a client relationship. It can also have a positive effect on client loyalty.
r10’s vision is to be the partner of choice for business transformation and IT advisory in the London Market. We compete with much larger organisations that provide similar services and we continue to grow with support from both our established clients and new engagements.
Some of our clients have asked us about our adoption of the “naked service” model, which is a component of our identity and vision. At r10 we embrace these principles and they are apparent in our daily ways of working. We decided to share the merits of this model to promote the power of being vulnerable in business.
Three fears prevent us from building trust and loyalty with our clients.
1. Fear of losing business
It is natural for a service provider to avoid losing clients, business or revenue. Ironically, the fear of losing business hurts the ability to develop the relationship. Clients want to know that your priority is to help them rather than maintain a source of income. Clients are attracted to those who will be honest and direct.
2. Fear of being embarrassed
This fear is about avoiding the appearance of ignorance and wanting to appear smart. Pretending that your intellectual ego is more important than your clients hurts your relationships and business. No-one enjoys making mistakes in public, especially in front of those who are paying you to be smart. Helping a client means that you are willing to ask questions, admit what you do not know, make suggestions – even if they turn out to be wrong. Ultimately what you bring as a service provider is different perspectives, not all the answers.
3. Fear of feeling inferior
This fear is preserving your sense of importance and social standing relative to a client. Service providers naturally yearn for respect and admiration in the eyes of the client. There is nothing more attractive than when people willfully and cheerfully set their egos aside. To win trust and loyalty the need to feel important in front of a client should be overcome.
How we go about shredding those fears?
Overcome the fear of losing business
- It is common for service providers to tell the client what they would do when they are engaged. At r10 we always consult instead of sell from the start. We listen and understand our clients’ situation before addressing practical solutions.
- We show and prove to our clients that we are interested in helping them for the long-term, removing suspicions that our aim is to maximise the short-term revenue.
- We tell the truth and provide transparency to our clients. For many, they feel uncomfortable in delivering a difficult message as they fear putting the relationship at risk. However, at r10 we address the tough conversations and stop avoiding the “elephants in the room”.
Overcome the fear of being embarrassed
- At r10 we are not uncomfortable in asking questions others are afraid to. Some questions might be considered dumb, but often flush out the thoughts of others and add value. It is better to ask and seek clarity, rather than not to.
- We make suggestions, and even if they are not exceptional all the time, they often result in good ones that shine.
- No one likes making mistakes, however making mistakes is inevitable. At r10 we accept our mistakes and take complete responsibility. We do not try to hide anything from our clients and this has always increased the trust and loyalty of our clients. Clients want honesty and transparency, not necessarily perfection.
Overcome the Fear of feeling inferior
- We will take the bullet for the client and help remove their burden during difficult times. Sometimes we might have to accept some outcomes which may or may not have been our fault. Our purpose is to deliver, not to judge whose fault is it. We think the “blame culture” is out of fashion.
- r10 makes everything about our client. Our attention is focused upon understanding, honouring and supporting you and your business, not constantly demonstrating our level of experience and knowledge.
- We roll our sleeves up and do the dirty work, even when at times the client’s needs may not be so attractive or exciting. At r10 we are willing to take on whatever a client needs us to do. Being willing to take on anything within the context of our service, expertise results in client gratitude and higher loyalty.
ALWAYS admit your limitations and weaknesses
No one is perfect. Everyone has strengths and weakness. By covering up your weaknesses, you are trying to be someone you are not, which prevents you from doing your best in areas which you can thrive.