Client Relationships

Client Relationship

I would like to share with you something that I believe has massively helped me grow my business over the years. What I have been doing is pushing myself to be more social and talk about something that isn’t just the work at hand.

For example, if I was at a residential clients house and waiting for an application to install or something else where there wasn’t much else I could do, I would look around the room and try to find something they are interested in and ask them about it. It might be sports memorabilia, traveling souvenirs or hobbyist items but when you allow someone to talk about what they are interested in, you will almost instantly develop a connection with them.

My clients would tell me about the countries they have been to, I would tell them about the ones I have been to and we might share various traveling stories. If I go back to the clients house 6 months later, I try to remember what we talked about last time and ask something like “How was your holiday in Fiji? I remember you saying that you were going there last time we talked?”. They love the fact that I remembered and cared enough to ask.

This takes the relationship away from me just being the guy who has come here to fix the computer to becoming a friend. The advantage of having a client relationship like this is the loyalty that comes with it and they are unlikely to replace you with anyone else.

Look at it this way, lets say you called a plumber over to do some work but you didn’t talk to him. He came in, did the job, gave you the invoice and left. Sure, he did a good job but next time anything happens that requires a plumber, you may not necessarily get the same plumber because you have no connection with him, he was just the guy that did some work for you a few years ago. You can easily find another one.

I also do this in the business environment as well but a little differently. I do some work for some medium-sized businesses and when a computer has issues, the employee using it calls reception and the reception calls me. The girls at reception have the option to call whoever they want but they now know me as more than just the tech guy. They know my hobbies, the area I live and I know theirs. By calling someone else, they may feel that they are stabbing me in the back.

Of course, in the business environment you need to use your own judgement of whether you should talk to people or not. Their main goal may be to get back up and running so they can resume work which they are now behind on. If this is the case, you will be liked more if you just make things work, bill them and be on your way.

So next time you are on a residential job or the situation is right in a business environment, push yourself to be a little more social. Ask them questions about things they are interested in and be genuinely interested in the responses. After a while you will definitely see a difference in your business.

Bryce Whitty

About the Author

Bryce Whitty
More articles by me...
Bryce is an Australian computer technician and the founder of Technibble. He started his computer repair business when he was 17 years old and is still running it 9 years later. He is an avid traveller and spends at least a month of the year in another country.

Comments (20)

  • Matt says:

    I completely agree. This is why I am able to not only establish a relationship with my customers, but get them to keep calling me back.

    I’ve established such relationships that today a client I was talking to on the phone was telling me that how they have been having health issues, her husband has IRS problems, and how and why their marriage isn’t working out. The fact that I’m a born-again Christian gives me a great opportunity to talk to them as well.

    But I agree that this can make or break you when it comes to residential customers.

  • iladelf says:

    I’ve done this ever since I began. Sometimes, I worry a little that perhaps I gab a bit too much, but I don’t think the customers mind it. We’re human. And let’s face facts; this job is, to some degree, a lonely one. On some days, the only human interaction I have is with these customers, so why not make the best of it?

  • adora says:

    I have clients call me back and I can tell it’s because I don’t treat them like “just another customer”. I dont mean to toot my own horn, but i seem to have a good memory which helps keep good client relationships.

  • Nasanaeru says:

    This is completely true; it facilitates trust.

  • JRoss says:

    Great post and too true.

    I actually take it a bit further because my memory isn’t what it used to be. I stop and write down things about them like kids, siblings and wifes names, sports and interests, medical issues, basically anything they let me in on. Just the act of writing it down makes it easier to remember.

    The same goes for suppliers and other techy businesses I deal with.

    For me it isn’t a gimmic but a genuine interest which is important. I always feel horrible when I forget some little tidbit……… a name.

    It really does put most people at ease. Unless they are paranoid dope growers. LOL

  • Michael says:

    I agree even as a retail tech that taking the time to make things a little more personal can bring the customer back however at the same time I sometimes find the customer trying to get a deal out of me the next time now that we are “friends”. So it can work both ways in my experience.

  • Greg says:

    To Matt

    Maybe I’m reading you wrong, but talking about religion with a customer is a big nono to me. Maybe if you know they are christian it would be ok, but you run the chance of turning people off to your service if they are not. I assume your smart enough to terminate discussion on that subject as soon as you see they are not. The problem being if you’ve started a conversation on religion and the person is say an atheist you’ve already blown the chance of them calling you back.

    I personally will not talk about religion with a customer, it’s like a mine field. I just think it’s a bad idea to mix religion and business, it’s just not worth it.

    On the topic itself, if you can’t talk with your customers, get out of the business. Nobody wants to deal with that weird guy that just sits there keeping to himself.

  • Robomonkey says:

    I’m on the fence with this one. I do agree that a friendly level of professionalism is always good. But be aware of the boundaries. Should you transition and be genuine in your interest of another person which can gravitate towards personal. You usually get the short end of the stick.

    Example: You are on site and discover at an home office some golf clubs. You yip yap about golfing since you have a common interest. You then get invited to go golf on a weekend, then other events. Suddenly that level of professionalism goes to personal. Fast forward some time and let’s say you show up to go golfing again. New ‘friend’ is now asking you to take a look at their computer because it is acting up. You usually would charge for a service call. You’re about to head out and you don’t want to rain on any parade so you don’t mention any charge. Now you have transitioned and your boundaries are skewed. New technicians will have a difficult time on figuring out when/how to charge someone that is their, “Friend.”

    Be sure to maintain that level, dish out those invoices, pay those bills, otherwise you will discover that you end up dishing out a lot of non-compensated hours under the guise of friendship. That give an inch, take a mile proverb holds true in this line of work.

  • Gustavo Leig says:

    Well, isnt a matter of business, is about being nice and polite. It’s like going into an elevator and saying good morning to your neibour, or asking the doorman how is his family. Is about smiling to someone or just calling a friend to say hello.
    maybe Im wrong but if your clients read this, next time you ask about their trips, they will think you are just passing by a business procedure. But if you do this just being yourself then I agree is very good to business indirectly.

  • JRoss says:

    Definitely stay away from religion……or politics. Those are my mother’s rules at the dinner table and I think they apply here too. I would add sexuality and abortion to that list. You just never know.

  • I totally agree with you Bryce. I always try to find a way to connect with my customers on some appropriate social level. On of the things my customer service mentor shared with me is that he likes people to leave his auto shop with a smile on their face. I try to achieve this with my customers after I have collected what ever is due from the computer job. Some of the things I usually connect with customers on is Religion (check out my testimonials), their children being in college, or just about anything I observe. When a customer starts getting into grey areas like “how can I trust my husband if he…” or anything likes that, I usually find away to change the direction of the conversation… (Never a good idea to be the guy that listens to the communication deprived woman who NEEDS someone to REALLY listen). Luckily that doesn’t happen to often in my business interactions…

    Connecting with the customers really helps when I am selling a computer or a laptop, because after asking just a few questions, I can really explain how the system they just bought can benefit them, and how to better protect it based on what they said they do. One of the things I also like to stress is that I am always here, and am happy to assist them in any way they need me as it pertains to computer work.

  • @ Robomonkey

    Your example of what could go wrong is a good example. That’s why in my opinion, it’s a good idea to have that boundary set that prevents you from going anywhere with a customer or casually visiting, or calling them. I am about to call a bunch of my customers to see how they are doing since the repair / sale, just as a courtesy call. No direct advertising. Then I will let them know I will be checking on them later in a month or so and asking them if this is OK. The whole time, I will be extremely friendly, probably with a smile on my face. The energy tends to project.

  • Ron says:

    Matt, I have to agree with Greg, Religion and Business (or Religion and Government), don’t (and should never ever) mix.

    Heck, often times religion doesn’t even mix well with itself….. Christan sects vs other Christian sects, the Christianity vs Islam, Islam vs Judaism, etc. It’s just too much of a minefield.

  • Luis says:

    This may be the single most reason why people lose trust in repair techs. While working for the cable company, many of my fellow techs always told me “Go in, get out. No conversation. Were here to make money, not friends.” I was never able to go by that though and as a result I’ve had several call backs from customers who needed help with their computers, entertainment centers, even a lady that just wanted to make me dinner.

    It’s like going to the barbershop for great conversation. I’ve been going to the same barber for over 5 years because he loves to talk about everything. Being cordial should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list,

  • Chris says:

    Bringing up religion for no good reason is business is yes, a bad thing, as who knows how the client will respond. It’s really the same as discussing polotics on a call. You don’t want to get into an argument over health care with the guy who is supposed to pay you after all is said and done, though if they mention something you are totally in-line with it won’t hurt to share your like-minded feelings. It may even help them to like you better.

    It’s like anything; be careful. Oh and for heavens sake don’t be the one to initiate a conversation along those lines. Only get into it if you’re certain. I handle some work for a local Salvation Army detatchment and I am more than safe talking religion with the officer running it. He loves it. :)

  • Internet Age says:

    Hahahahah – Stay away from religion and politics – Good one, JRoss!!

    Find common ground with people and exploring it inevitably leads top resonance and bonding. Customers very often make business decisions based on their emotional bond with the business owner / salesperson, so making sure of building relationships is of cardinal importance to your long term business success.

  • B-TECH says:

    Coming from many years in customer service, I couldn’t agree more. No matter the environment, customers like to be noticed and feel appreciated. There are so many little things you can do that will make your customers feel special. Remembering their name, something they like or something they said will really make an impression on them. As simple as this is, it can be easily overlooked in a business environment like we are in. Thanks for bringing it to everyones attention Bryce.

  • Nathan H says:

    Gotta say I totally agree with this article.

    I done this when i was starting out but some how i have forgot about this important aspect of business.

    and it shows….. business has been so slow I have had to fold for a few months.

    The morel of the story a little effort can make a big difference….

  • The Desolate One says:

    Since I ONLY do residential repairs, being personable to a certain extent is a prerequisite. When you walk into a person’s home, you’re at that point guests to their personal lives. When you’re in a customer’s home and you make them feel comfortable with you being in their home, they like that MUCH better than if you walk in with a stoic attitude and just start manipulating their personal property. I have customers all the time that invite me over for dinner, send me various holiday cards during the year, and YES, I’ve even been “propositioned” by a couple of female clients. I told THEM that if they were propositioning me to get out of PAYING for my work on their computer, then I couldn’t help them.

  • Hannagan's Computers says:

    I truly agree with most of what I have read on here but I would like to add one thing. Learn how to explain things to customers so that they can uderstand whats wrong with thier pc. I also try to tell them why it happend if I am able to and how to avoid the same issue. Telling Hilda that her latency on her ram was set wrong in the bios isnt going to mean anything to her. When you could tell her she had some settings in her pc that were wrong. Just an example and something to think about.