Let’s talk about business communication and empathy.
I’ll start with a recent example of my own.
My hands were sweaty. My heart beat faster. In fact, my stomach churned.
Did the home inspector find something seriously wrong with the house we’ve worked on and repaired for the better part of a dozen years? He had just completed the process of inspecting our home. I was waiting for the results.
Equally nerve-wracking? I felt like we had a 50/50 chance of getting “golden-rule” service from this professional service provider.
The positive 50% rested on the referral we received from our hard-working, client-centered real estate agency.
Our negative 50% rested on the stories I’d collected about inspectors over many years — after our own traumatizing experience.
We all have our stories about mechanics, lawyers, doctors, dealerships, and other industries with sometimes questionable reputations. We want to trust them. We all need their services.
Instead of mud-slinging, what are some ways professional service providers can improve their image?
Try walking a mile in your client’s shoes.
You know that moment when you pick up the phone to call a professional service provider for help? (Funny thing — I just typed “hell” accidentally — but let’s not go there.) What do you really want? Quality service and golden-rule treatment, certainly.
In the first year of home-ownership our HVAC went up (found out the former owner installed it after it sat in a barn for many years), our back roof caved in, and our hot water heater died. That was just the beginning of old house woes.
I doubt the first inspector we ever hired has even the slightest clue how much grief we endured because of him. Our trust meter was at rock bottom this time around.
Chances are high that your client has had a negative experience with a professional service provider, too.
Delivering your product or service on time builds trust — if done well.
After a few offhanded, yet promising remarks from the home inspector on his way out the door, I waited for the report to appear in my inbox within 24 hours. Or so the company website boasted.
Instead, my wait was longer. The suspense nearly killed me.
We’ve poured a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, literally, into this home. It’s always going to have a “to-do” list. But we’ll be leaving it so much better than we found it. We’re happy the old lady has a lot of life left in her.
Well, the inspector’s report still hadn’t appeared in my inbox well over 24 hours later. Was our house doomed?
However, my realtor saved my sanity. She kindly mentioned that the inspector would have shared if we were in serious trouble. After all, we hired the company, not the buyers. We were entitled to know big news immediately.
Simple, clear communication shows empathy.
The inspector’s report rolled in. Fifty pages. Even the summary sheet confused me. I called my realtor again (Poor thing — but who else could I ask?) She’s an old hand at following inspectors around and asking probing questions.
Turns out, our realtor cut her teeth following home inspectors around. She knows a lot about interpreting inspection reports. She simplified things and answered my questions.
If you complicate things, you frustrate your clients.
Clear explanations build trust and show empathy. Assume your clients are not stupid. They just can’t be an expert in everything. That’s why they hired YOU.
Set clear expectations. Have a clear contract. Perhaps you can borrow a “beta-tester” who’s unfamiliar with your service. See how well they understand your marketing materials, website, and other content.
Would they hire you?
Personalize your communication.
What’s worse? I got a form text message with a link from my inspector. No personal note. Just a link for home repairs prior to getting my report. At that point my anxiety levels went up again.
Those impersonal, bot-like messages don’t build trust like a real note or phone call.
However, when I got the call that we had an offer on our house, I also received an email from my realtor. She put the verbal offer into writing, too. The personal touch set me at ease. I trust her to do the important work of ironing out details that will matter for us in the future.
Do your clients know they’re important to you?
Do you understand their anxieties, frustrations, and pain points? As a professional service provider, your work matters.
Your service matters. How you communicate and deliver will either cause frustration and anxiety or smooth out challenges. Whom would you rather hire? My inspector or my realtor?
Me? I’m trying to “walk what I talk” every day.
Despite my frustration in the past few weeks, I’ve been busy chipping away at a challenging writing project for a client, researching a topic I knew nothing about.
It took hours longer than I expected. Today I was satisfied to deliver my completed project on time to my client — the first Tuesday of the month.
My specialty is writing with empathy for your client. How? I’ve needed to hire doctors, a lawyer, mechanics, dentists, inspectors, realtor, home improvement contractors — well, you get the idea! I’ve walked a few steps in your client’s shoes, too.
I love working with Golden Rule professional service providers who take pride in delivering their best work.
How can I assist you with your content marketing strategy and needs? Just reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org