If you have been reading my blogs from my early days in practice, you will know that I was a start-up practice in its truest sense. Meaning, maybe like you, I started without a client base. Every client was taken on by me. It means I am emotionally attached to each one of them. I know, that is not a good business practice. I am the way I am.
In the early stages of my practice, it was easier for me to keep an eye on everything that was going on. In other words, I made sure our clients needs were met and equally importantly they remained highly satisfied clients.
Growth has meant that I cannot keep my eye on everything. It applies to any small practice that is getting less small. That, as the saying goes, is part and parcel of a growing business.
Over the week, I received a call from our long-term client; that really hit me. She gave negative feedback about our service. My fellow small practice owners, it hurts when someone talks badly about your baby. It is not easy.
On the positive side, I noticed I have emotionally matured when it comes to taking negative feedback. I listened carefully to what she was saying. Even though my emotions were running high and shouting at me to put the phone down. I thought this is something I need to take on board and make sure it does not happen again.
The client in question was concerned about the exchange of routine emails between B and her. Her key points were:
- B used LOL in the email. She said that was not professional.
- B’s overall communication style was concerning.
I reviewed the emails and thought they were okay. LOL, to me, did not appear to be a major issue.
The feedback was from a long term client who has been with me since my early days as a sole practitioner. Furthermore, she is an above average fee client.
I managed to control my emotions since, with experience, I have become very aware of the downsides of losing clients:
- Bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.
- It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.
- For every customer who bothers to complain, 26other customers remain silent.
After a day or so, I had cooled down and thought I prefer to hear negative feedback and make the changes rather than lose a client without knowing why. Also, if she is unhappy, they may be other clients who may be feeling the same way. It is best I know to change the way we work.
Of course, now I will make sure our client communication is always professional.
I have read and also understood the importance of client feedback. When feedback is negative on something that is so close to my heart, all that I have read and took on board is safely locked at the back of my mind, not to be retrieved, when it comes to my baby. I know this is poor business practice.
I will end by saying in future I will welcome all feedback and also mean it. When it will come to the crunch, I know I will have to try so damn hard to control those emotions again.