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The Dilemma Of Being Honest With Your Clients

Overcoming The Fear Of Client Reaction

In this Growth Engine Daily, I want you to think about the dilemma of being honest with your clients.

What do I mean by that?

I’m not saying that as a business community we’re dishonest with our clients, I’m talking about the fear of being straight up and acting in the client’s best interests.

So, in our agency, I’ll use a couple of examples of what I see in other client’s businesses.

And if a client hires a professional, or a patient goes and sees a doctor, seeks their advice, and then engages that advice, but then as it goes through they put personal opinion in from an unqualified point of view to change the output.

Now, for you guys who work in industries such as

  • Marketing
  • Service providers
  • Consultancy business
  • Coaching
  • Professional services

You’re probably thinking now of that name that makes your blood boil, or you get a rash about because the client frustrates you.

The Process To Correct or Replace

The only end goal that we’re going to challenge you to think about, should you fire that client or should you go through a few steps first?

Personally, I think you should go through a few steps first.

But let’s just give a couple of those examples I’ll give one in our agency.

Example 1:

We have a client, they’re a service provider.  He engages a professional to achieve a certain output of campaign result in being our agency.

Now, it’s not rocket science that Google owns the online world.

Google’s recommendations for how web pages, or SEO optimization, especially on the page has a certain format, whether that’s H1 titles, whether that’s a copy, Alt images, compressed images, meta descriptions.

Recently this client wants a specific look on their core service page. That’s fine, we can restyle the page. They hire us, we put a strategy together, we do the design, we go for sign off. And the client says, “No, I want that H1 removing,” or, “I want that taking out,” or, “I don’t believe that this download should be available,” or whatever.

Now, you’re sat there and you’re thinking these are basic best practises and you are right and they have to stay in there because otherwise, that page is not going to perform at the standard that it would need.

The client thinks otherwise and is going pretty over functionality, then complains the result isn’t where he wanted it…..sound familiar?

We see it as our responsibility to sit down with any client and say to them, look, respectfully you’ve hired us as the professional, this is the recommendation that we have.

For us to guarantee the campaign/project that’s released is in the format that it must be, the H1 needs to stay.

Sure, it can be styled in different ways and the look and feel can be developed, whether that’s with a custom CSS code or any other design function.

However, the architectural structure of this particular page and this lead generation strategy needs to stay.

Example 2: 

Recently I’ve been working with an automotive business where they’re fearful of asking the clients what the credit status up right up out of the gate.

So, I have a discussion with them about their process and after they take a couple of qualification questions, they’re debating whether they should actually say, could you please advise me what your current credit score is, off Experian, or Clear Score, or whatever it would be, in the fear of upsetting clients.

Is this information that really is essential, it is, because if you are a prime lender and the client is subprime, it’s highly unlikely you will get credit for them.

Ultimately what is the point of continuing to qualify, spend time, do quotes for a client who’s maybe got a CCJ or bankruptcy order, or really poor credit, that their finance teams just won’t underwrite.

The Real Debate

So, the debate really is all about

  • Should you be honest with clients?
  • And the fear about will that upset them?
  • Well, they leave?
  • Will they go somewhere else?

I’d love your comments below.

Buying A Dog And Barking Themselves

Let me know of examples when you’ve had clients that you’ve been fearful of standing up square on the shoulders and saying, “No Mr. Or Mrs. Client, this is actually not the correct way and we need to keep on track.”

The old adage saying is it’s like having a dog and barking yourself.

And I’d really love to know your thoughts and your experiences and how you overcame it, so you can share that with the community, that would be fantastic.

My view is I think if they’re hiring a professional, you give your best professional advice looking at all the wider context, not just the aesthetics or the initial reaction that you might get off a client on the phone.

As long as it’s done respectfully, as long as it’s done with the client’s best interest at heart, I think that’s a great way and I think it actually adds to your authority that will help you build a relationship with the client.

When To Fire The Client

A final thought on that, if the client is offended, if the client is insistent, the point I raised earlier, should you fire them? Absolutely, let them go because ultimately what happens if you do a job, the client changes the build spec, the results aren’t what was expected and it’s far too easy for the client whether it’s to the agency owner, the automotive business, to say,

“Hey, you wasted my time,” or, “Hey, it’s not worked.”

So, you’re on a hiding to nothing if you allow it to continue, and always challenge the customer in a polite, respectful way,

“Why did you hire us in the first place?”

Because we’re a professional, we know what we’re doing.

We’re experts in our field. Please allow us to do our job that is focussed on helping you our client.

The Right and a Wrong Way

It does require good customer management skills, outside of that, I think it’s something that for sure you should really stand tall and be confident in your abilities and help your clients protect them from themselves.

So, leave me your comments below, I’d love to know what you think.

Mike Midgley

Mike Midgley is the Strategy Director at 6teen30 Digital and a dynamic digital entrepreneur, nxd, strategist, public speaker and host of TheOpenMike Podcast show & Co-Host at The Inbound Podcast. Mike has achieved successful six and seven-figure exits over a 25-year career, raised in excess of £1.6m [$2.5m] in Venture Capital and highly experienced with franchising.

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