Mark your answer in the comments below :-)
We learn from each other here in the QB Community -- share an example from your own experience about how your customer's have/haven't influenced you!
TRUE! Without my customers, I don't have a business. They help me look at the big picture, teach me what is working and what isn't and will be honest if something doesn't seem fair to them. However, there is of course the flip side in that I need to stay true to myself!
TRUE for me. I'd say customers entirely influence the way I approach the work I do. As a service provider and someone who works for herself (versus being a small business), without close attention to my customer's evolving needs I'd be dead in the water.
True. I don't just talk at my clients. I talk to them, but I also listen. I have learned more about business from my clients that any other source. They were smart enough to form a business relationship with me...they must know something
True! I love falling in love with problems, not solutions. My customers help me identify the true problem and then we can play with the solution together until it's right.
Now that you mention it, I too have learned so much from and grown as a self-employed person thanks so my clients. Thank you for the insight @butchewing! Can you tell us a little bit about your business and what your clients have taught you?
For sure! One example that comes to mind is when a client asked me to invoice them every month.
Initially, I only billed my clients if they requested something. Usually, the requests would be: create a new page on their website or change a header image. Each time, they would contact me and make the request. I would always be sure to quote the estimated cost for the change. If the quoted amount matched their budget, they would ask me to proceed. Sometimes they would tell me that they would need to wait a month or two to afford the change. I was always understanding in those situations. I thought this was the best way for them to get changes to their site and know they cost beforehand.
It turns out, I was wrong.
"I don't want to be the guy at the fancy restaurant that keeps asking how much everything is."
I was flattered that my client thought of my business like a fancy restaurant but surprised at how I made them feel. My clients did not want to be embarrassed if the quoted amount was too much. I had no idea that it felt that way! I was not trying to shame them.
About a year ago, a client called me and asked if they could pay me every month whether or not I did any work for them. This sounded crazy to me. Why would they want to pay me for nothing? That is not what they meant. The idea was simple, my client would pay me a small amount each month and then if and when they needed something minor changed on their site, it would simply be included in this monthly support and maintenance.
Now, I offer several different levels of Support & Maintenance. I'm pretty sure that I make more money this way, but I'm very sure that my clients are happier.
True. But only so far. If my customer was in charge I would charge nothing and be on call 24/7. The customer has to have a voice in how you provide services, because I want them to purchase those services. But not to the detriment of my business or lifestyle.
I think as a service provider the most important skill is being able to listen. And as a business owner, one of the most important things you need to be able to say is "no." Setting boundaries is huge and can actually improve your relationship with your customer if done properly.
@Adam_Fenner - I really like that you're looking at both sides of the coin. It's important to find that balance between staying true to yourself and also making your customers happy. Can you share an experience when you had to make a decision and were able to find that balance?
True...Without customers this is no business. Bringing them to the store and retaining them for repeat business is a never ending process.
@AudreyPratt - Thank you. Before I got into this business I spent a lot of time reading and listening to experts on how to successfully run an accounting practice. One of the things that was repeatedly mentioned was don't go after so much that you stretch yourself too thin to provide great service.
One of the big areas that I know I don't have exceptional strength in is Tax. So, as I get requests for tax clients, I politely turn them down, I'm happy to help provide bookkeeping, and help plan for tax season with the help of their tax professional, to help make sure their tax return process is smooth. But I know I won't be able to offer the best service in tax. So I don't compromise my brand by offering it.
Good for you @Adam_Fenner, keep it up! That not only benefits you but also your clients. I own a virtual assistant business and it took some "trial and error" to figure out where my focus needed to be. Thank you for sharing your experiences!