Posts Tagged ‘customers’
When negotiating with prospects, you will sometimes come across the ‘Day Rate Apprehensive’ customer.
Generally, such customers will demand to know your day rate (even if you intend to quote a fixed price project), and will make all kinds of ‘ohhhhh’ or ‘hmmmmm’ noises, and will try to get you to drop your day rate down.
How should a freelancer, contractor or small business owner deal with those demanding a reduction in your day rate?
I have found the best way to keep the rate the same whilst still winning the business is to make them realise that negation on day rate has absolutely nothing to do with the price they will end up paying.
My two suggestions are:
Option 1 – The Duration Equation. In this discussion, yes, the day rate is indeed one side of the equation. BUT, so is the duration – how long the project will take to complete. Talking about a day rate without considering the effect on duration is a zero-net equation. As the day rate drops, so the duration will increase to balance out the work cost (even if you actually spend the same real time doing the work, and the slack time working on other projects).
Option 2 – The Quality Equation. In this discussion, you may be asked to talk about the day rate but also talk about the duration – in which case the final part of the equation is the quality. This is like haggling over the cost of apples; you may get the same quantity of apples for 4p each rather than the premium 20p apples, but they will be bruised or rotten. If just getting a cheaper apple is the ONLY goal, then a cheaper cost per item is a quick win for the customer – but will either of you be happy in the end? No!!! This is the negotiation to be having with your prospect – a cheaper day rate for the same duration may involve a less skilled (outsourced to a lower skill level) freelancer or overseas development house, which in the end may mean a lower quality delivery, which will then cost more with fixes and problems.
Remember, when you offer a service, you can offer it delivered quickly, cheaply and for the delivery to work – but your prospect can only pick two out of the three.
When your prospect demands all three (and a low day rate), they are really asking for a sub-standard delivery which will cost somebody (either you, or your prospect) more in the longer term. Unless you are really desperate for work, it could end up being you who pays the additional cost, so this is a prospect you should be walking away from.
Suspending projects, leaving customers unsupported, jetting off to somewhere warm, sunny and relaxing may be how holidays are supposed to be – but I always panic that as I fly off to the middle of nowhere, servers will crash, bugs will be uncovered and customers will need assistance which I am unable to provide.
Of course, disaster can be averted, and vacations can be turned into a more relaxing experience through some simple preparation.
Whilst this preparation will vary depending on the type of freelancing work you do, the number of existing customers you have, or number of projects on the go, some preparation activities will work for all freelancers.
My own check list of top twelve pre-vacation activities for restful and stress free holidays are as follows:
- Holidays over public holidays and weekends – Let’s start with the simple ones. Scheduling your vacations to include as many non-working days as possible not only means you are not wasting potential money earning working days, but also reduces the number of days when customers will need supporting. Of course, vacations over public holidays will cost a little more.
- Cut off of Work – I have a two week window before any overseas travel where I will not install software changes of any kind on any customer’s site. In the past, I have found that the bad-luck demons will happily sit back and watch that typo turn into a nasty data corruption bug, which of course will only be discovered 20 seconds after your plane takes off. Leaving a settle in period means any problems should have been discovered by customers before you leave.
- Have an Email Filter - You know all those emails you get with small business tips, blog posts, LinkedIn updates and the like, you don’t need them on holiday. Create a filter which automatically moves them to a holiday folder which you can review on your return. Also worth noting that the rules need to be in your core email store (such as exchange) rather than your email client (outlook) as otherwise the rules will not be applied.
- Have a email Check schedule – and agree this with your partner and friends that are traveling with you. Nothing will annoy your husband or wife more than them feeling like there are on holiday on their own as you always have your phone in your hands checking emails. Two email checks a day is a good compromise, and schedule those times based on the time difference between your holiday destination and your customers.
- Tell the customers – If your customers know you are a one-man-band freelancer, tell them when you are going to be away. Tell them as soon as you book your vacation, so everybody has plenty of time to prepare for the window of ‘no support activity’. Of course, if you are ‘pretending’ to be bigger than you are, tell them anyway, and direct them to a generic support or issues email address.
- Check you can get to the Internet – Don’t leave it to the last minute to check that you can get on the internet at your selected holiday location. Can you access internet via hotel WiFi, via your mobile phone operator – and what will be the speeds and costs involved? Most hotels have a web site these days, and most will indicate what ‘business’ facilities are available. If there are problems, have a backup plan ready before you fly.
- Arrange external support? – If you are supporting important projects or customers, it is always worth speaking to other friendly freelancers to see if they will help support your customers whilst you are away getting a tan. This will need some serious preparation time in terms of technical knowledge transfer, setting up access to the project files, access to the customer files, and of course contracts between you and them. Such agreements do not necessarily need to be for money (you can arrange a situation where they cover you, and in return you cover them), but generally, paying them for their time can be money well spent if it means you can relax on holiday.
- Make key files accessible – Just in case you do end up getting dragged into a support or question-answering situation, it is well worth making sure key files for key customers are to hand and in a format that is usable. For making files accessible, nothing beats cloud storage such as dropbox (which allows access via browser or mobile phone). Just remember that you need them in a format that you can view without a full computer (unless you are taking your laptop). It is no good having your SQL server database backed up to dropbox if you don’t have a server to load the data onto – better to have the table formats and scripts exported into a text file that you can read on a text viewer (same goes for application source files, graphics files (you wont have photoshop available), etc). Also, if in doubt – push all customer files to the cloud as it’s the ones you don’t have access to that you will undoubtedly need.
- Look for common problems – Another good exercise prior to leaving for vacation is to review your old customer support issues and look for common problems. For my customers, the same problems crop up over and over again (forgotten passwords, query on the movements of data through a data system, etc). A lot of pain can be eased by creating a quick ‘how to overcome or answer your most common questions’ crib sheet which you send out before you fly.
- Remote Project Management – For me, there is no better feeling than having a project start off as I fly out to holiday – and knowing that some poor freelancer I have subcontracted to is working hard whilst I drink frozen cocktails by the pool. If you have a cloud based project management system (see below), this can make staying up to speed a breeze.
- Remote issue logging system – As discussed, having a central support email address for incoming issues is good, but having a cloud based issue logging and resolution system is so much better. Your customers will feel more in control, and you (or your friendly supporting freelancer friend) can respond to and resolve issues via an internet connection.
- Possible Remote solutions – The final option is to see if you can organise a remote support situation. I give more details on my particular solution below.
Remote Project Management
One of the cloud based tools that I have been using for the past couple of years has been the TeamworkPM project management system. Having a project system which controls work flow, and that myself, my customers and (in some cases) my outsourced developers can see has been a gods-send.
I am even happier now that I have found that Teamwork PM have mobile phone based applications which run on both Android and iOS based mobile phones. A great tool is now even better – allowing me to track progress on projects, update statuses, chase for progress and keep track of projects whilst I am traveling or enjoying a break with the minimum of fuss and the minimum of data bandwidth (which saves a lot of time and cost when on a roaming data plan).
Using Teamwork and the mobile based client, I am able to keep working whilst sipping a drink, and the project continues along without me – keeping all my customers very happy.
My own Remote Support Solution
In terms of my own remote support system, I recognised that for me, a lot of my support questions came about regarding the data that is held on my customer databases (generally Oracle or SQL Server). Therefore, to aid in remote support, I invested a day and developed myself a remote support system.
The system comprises of two parts:
1) I developed a web form on my own internet server (where I host my business web site) which presents me with a text entry window and a drop down list of my customers. In this window, I can type some freehand SQL script (or pick from a set of 12 common queries), and select a customer. The customer code and the SQL script is then written to a file on my web server
2) I also developed a customer end service, which runs on each customer site (in the background) once an hour, and reads the text file from my web site. If the customer code is the code of the site, and the save time is within the last hour (to stop duplicate runs) it connects to the product database, runs the script, gets the results into an HTML grid table, and emails me the results
It’s crude, quick and nasty – but is very effective.
When a customer logs a support call saying that they need to know why something has happened, I can bring up my web form on my phone, and type in my SQL command (“select * from audit where data = ‘the problem code”). Then I go off and get a drink. One or Two hours later, I get a response email back from the customers database server with an HTML formatted set of the results, as if I was dialed into their computer.
In my leisure, I can look at the data on my phone display, and using my cloud based customer support form, quickly type a response. If needed, the SQL script that I send to be run can be an update (to sort out data), a select on a database object (to view a stored procedure) or can even reboot a server. All from my sandy beach location on holiday.
Whilst my solution is designed to work on client databases, maybe a similar solution will work for you to get web details, page files, documents, or whatever else your freelance business deals with for customers?
You want your freelance or small business to grow, right? You want an easy life, and happy customers or staff, yes? And you don’t want people complaining to or about you, do you?
If so, then can I recommend the following five rules of business communication (which were handed down to me by one of my old business mentors)? He taught me that if you follow these rules in all communication (with prospects, staff, customers and even in personal matters), it will make things run a lot easier and will head off a lot of problems before they occur.
I have these rules on a small card pinned next to my computer screen – just so I don’t forget them, and I try to follow them in all my communication.
Anyway – on with the rules…
Rule 1 – Keep people up-to-speed
One of the worst things in business is not knowing what is going on. It’s an easy situation for people to find themselves in. They ask you to do something, and the response is silence – they can only guess whether you are working on their request, they are number 100 in your queue of actions, or if you are ignoring them. So remember to communicate whenever anything significant changes, or just send them a regular status email to keep them informed.
Rule 2 – Be explicit in what you are saying and asking
Miss-communication is bad. But what is worse, is expecting somebody else to read your mind, or in-between the lines. If you want something, say exactly what it is you want. As an example, don’t say fuzzy things such as “well, your support ends next month, so what do you want to do about it?” – Say what you want – “your support ends next month, so I need you to raise a new purchase order for £5,000 which needs to be with me by Friday because without this….”.
Rule 3 – Make it easy, simple and obvious
Keep the communication short, use simple words, and keep it obvious in terms of subject and content. Think of each communication as costing you money – every word you can cut out saves you a pound, and every word that isn’t used on a day to day basis (the extra long padding words such as ‘conceptualize’, ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘leverage’) costs you £2.
Rule 4 – If in doubt, pick up the phone
Some things are better said than typed. If emails or letters have turned into a multi-bouncing discussion or too many people have been copied in, pick up the phone and have the discussion. If its bad news, pick up the phone and take the heat rather than taking the cowards way out with a text or email.
Rule 5 – Automate the communication
Where possible – automate the communication. This doesn’t mean adopting a spam generating system which will churn out useless sales rubbish, but use a system that either allows people to find the information themselves (such as using a really good online project portal allowing customers to keep track of their projects when they want), or create manual processes where you keep people up to date with the current situation.
Last week, my business made £1,180 from a customer without doing any work. All it took was for this particular customer to pay their invoices late.
I know that Late Payers are a constant worry for the majority of freelancers and small businesses. The majority of my own customers pay late. However, on the whole, my late payers are only 2 or 3 days late in making their payments – which I can live with.
But this one customer was over 80 days late in their payment, and the amount was large – very large. In fact, the original invoice was nearly £60,000 in value. As you can imagine, when the amount is so large, and with payment being so long overdue, it can lead to a lot of sleepless nights – will they pay at all? Will I have to take them to court? Will they eventually turn around with 1,000 reasons why they are not paying (delivery was not as they wanted, etc)? In short, would I ever see the money?
I had a signed contract – so was covered from that point of view. In the contract, it talked about my terms and conditions, which included my late payment penalties – so was covered there. And my online accounts system (the wonderful FreeAgent was regularly sending them chase notifications).
After the invoice was 30 days overdue, and after a lot of worry – I bit the bullet – and raised a late payment invoice for 30 days of interest (8% over the base rate – so maths = (((amount of invoice + 8.5%)/365 days) * 30 days) plus my £50 admin fee.
30 days after that, I raised another 30 days of interest and another late payment fee, and then a third late payment invoice. They now had four invoices outstanding (the original plus 3 late payment invoices)
After the third invoice, it did seem that I was wasting my time – I was calling them and was being given more and more complex reasons for the late payment (we have a new accounts system, the payment manager is on holiday, its in the next payment run) – I even started to research on Google which debt collection company would have the most success (and which would cost me the least).
And then, guess what…. they paid. There was no email or call or anything – the money just magically appeared in my company bank account. Not only did they pay the original invoice, but also the late payment invoices – so an extra £1,180 into my bank for no effort from me.
And you know what – that’s more money than I would have gained in interest in having it sit in a bank – so I am very happy.
We all suffer bad payers – but don’t give up. Chase, chase, and chase some more. When things get too much, threaten and then do it – raise that late payment invoice. Don’t put up with those late payers. And don’t wait until they pay to raise a late payment invoice – raise one a month – it acts as a reminder to pay the original invoice (and that you are serious).
As long as you have a signed contract and a clear set of terms, the law is on your side.
In my previous post, I talked about how I have started sending out regular newsletters to my old customers and future prospects. Today, I wanted to cover why, who and how.
Keeping In touch – The Why and Who
I have no doubt that when it comes to marketing, out of sight is also out of mind. Which is why I wanted to start sending out newsletters. But I am also a believer that its easier to win back old customers that it is to find new customers – you never know when that old customer will need some help on a new project, or some additional consultancy time or help on a new project.
With this in mind, I decided that the initial target of my newsletters would be my old customers. So a quick email went to each of them saying that I had been working recently on some exciting other projects and I thought that some of the things I had created whilst working on these other tasks could benefit them to (pretty much those exact words). I said that I was going to be sending out a regular update of some useful routines and tips, and also stressed that the updates would only come from me every 2 weeks or so – so it would not be overload. I also pointed out that if they were not relevant, they could unsubscribe at any time.
My feedback was good – I got 100% sign up on everybody I emailed (although it did help that I had worked with them in the past, therefore they knew what I did and how I liked to share useful information).
Of course, I then took the opportunity to contact my current handful of prospects and offered to sign them up in the same way. So far, the uptake from prospects has been 45% – which I am fairly happy about.
The newsletter – The How
From the beginning, I wanted my newsletter to be no effort for me. I also wanted to keep track of my subscribers, and see if anybody was actually reading the newsletters (no point in wasting time producing something that nobody was reading). After a quick bit of research, I decided that I would use the marketing email system – mailchimp.
Mailchimp is an internet based mass emailing system. It is really designed for sending out large numbers of emails as part of a marketing campaign (you know the ones, the ones we all get every day and curse (50% off sprockets in our Spring sale)). But it works just as well for sending out newsletters.
Mailchimp is not designed to be a free service, but it is free for the first 2000 subscribers with 12,000 emails a month (enough for everybody who could run a small business to keep in contact). If your newsletter gets more than 2000 subscribers or needs that number of emails, you are doing so well you can probably afford to may the $10 a month usage fee.
Setting up a newsletter is a snip – you can quickly design a sign-up form, manually add your subscribers if needed, and then design your newsletter (in terms of Mailchimp, each fortnightly email I want to send I setup as a campaign so I can track who is reading it).
One of the magical things about Mailchimp is that when you register, you give it your personal details including web site, and it does so much work for you – it goes to your web site and finds your web site style sheet and graphics – so straight away it sets up a template with your company logo, fonts and address. All I had to do was enter the text. Text editing is a breeze – you can change the look feel, fonts, colours and so much more within your text. you can also include graphics if required.
Once you have your first newsletter done, you can then duplicate it for the next week, and the next – and just have to paste in the text you need – for that weeks edition. The creation of a newsletter really just takes me 4 or 5 minutes (once I have the text from my Evernote files – see my previous entry).
Once defined, the mail can then be sent straight away, or (as I do) scheduled to be sent at a point in the future. I already have newsletters set up taking me into the summer.
When the emails are sent, MailChimp takes care of everything – the email is sent from your email address, and appears in both text and HTML format (depending on the recipients email client and preferences). Once sent, everything is tracked – for each weeks newsletter, MailChimp tells me how many emails it went out to, how many people it was sent to, how many opened the email , how many clicked embedded links in your mail, how many unsubscribed and how many people it was forwarded on to.
I am sure if I was a big company, I would be using MailChimp for sending offer and sales emails – but even for something as modest as my newsletter, it does everything I need.
So everybody’s happy. My old customers and prospects get some (hopefully) useful information, I get to be noticed by them every week (which should lead to more work), and I get to get on with my day job, leaving Mailchimp to track how well my newsletter is performing.
If you would like to take a look at my sign-up form or even read what I am sending out (my tips are about SQL Server databases tips and useful functions), my sign up form is here.
Times are still tough out there (so I am told), and judging by search queries being run through Google and posts on small business forums I visit, a lot of small companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find new customers. The two biggest phrases I see from SME’s at the moment are “dealing with late payers” and “how to attract new customers”.
This is odd, because if small companies and freelancers are struggling in making sales, it does not really explain my recent experience dealing with small companies.
Over the last few weeks I have spent some background time working on a project for a customer, finding one or more suppliers to provide IT software development services. The customer needed a company or two to provide a mixture of services such as web site design, some database design, and application development. My task was to define the requirements, help find companies to perform the work, vet the companies and make recommendations.
How I found the Companies
Luckily, finding the companies was not my task – it was given to an office junior who used a combination of google searches (both using adword adverts and natural results), advertising on freelancer work sites, and using a small list of previous suppliers. In all, I was given a list of 31 possible suppliers to approach with the specification of work required.
It’s worth noting that for the sake of integrity for this work, I did not put my own company forward for doing the work. I was simply tasked to create the outline specification, recommend a supplier and then work with them during development of the systems. The budget for the entire work package (not including my own companies time) was £198,000 – a fair chunk of work then. Most ‘chunks’ of work were budgeted at between £17,000 and £34,000.
The shocking Response
After discounting 2 companies (due to geographical restrictions on the project), 29 information packs were sent out – including the outline requirements spec for all work required, rough time lines (spring next year for completion so no pressure), asking them to get in contact with bits they were interested in and outline costs. I didn’t include the outline budgets – I didn’t want to tell anybody what they should charge.
Out of the 29 packs sent out – the stats after 4 weeks were as follows:
- 9 companies never made contact – in any form. No emails, no calls, no letters – nothing. I have called all 9 companies and all 9 are still in existence.
- 7 companies made contact by phone, said that the information was good enough to work with, and would provide outline costs and timelines within 2 weeks – none of them sent anything through.
- 5 companies visited for meetings for more information. Out of these 5, 1 company visited 3 times. Out of the 5 companies, none provided any costs or timelines – they simply. . . .vanished.
- 2 companies responded with what I would call a standard information pack; a background of their company, projects they worked on in the past, and various services they offered. Nothing was provided specifically for the project – no timelines, costs or even reference to the project.
- 3 companies provided responses with what they would do, how long it would take, how many people would be assigned, how they would do it – but all 3 would not give a price – any price. No day rate, no total, no overall outline– it was as if pricing was a national secret.
Just 3 companies provided the information – what they would do, by when, and how much. And guess what, all 3 got the business (they all wanted to do different parts).
What this means for you
The companies made it so easy for me. I could happily recommend the 3 companies who got the work as they were the only 3 companies to respond with the information needed. Any of the other companies could have been awarded some or all of the work too, just by providing the information that was required.
Now I am sure that if asked by a potential customer to provide a bid, you would create a quote in the agreed timeframe with the information requested. But, it just strikes me as crazy that so many companies are searching on how to find work and customers, when the work was there all the time, and all they had to do was respond.
The customer Doesn’t need a Drill. What they need is a hole
The same is true with anything anybody sells – they don’t need the Thing – they need the Outcome.
They don’t need the car, they need to be able to get to somewhere whenever they want. They don’t need a seat on a plane – they need to be somewhere else that’s sunny. They don’t need the flashy new web site – they need more customers. They don’t even need that consultancy service – they need answers and advice they can depend on.
It’s an interesting flip on sales thinking. Are you selling the Thing, or the Outcome.
It’s one of the things I am testing in some web site, brochure and leaflet changes. My web site was all about the service I offered – so I am trying versions that are all about what the Outcome is – and its showing good results.
So what are you selling? The Thing (that nobody wants or needs), or the Outcome?
Is it time to check the wording on your adverts, web site and literature?
Over the last couple of months, I have seen a few other freelancing and small business blogs talk about things to do when work dries up. I guess maybe this is a common topic because the economy is still suffering (so I am told).
My problem with such lists is that they are all painting around the edges with suggestions such as “catch up with filing” or “tidy your storage system” – which is all fine, but I imagine that most freelancers, contractors and small business bods would rather be doing productive work earning cash than taking time to “spruce up your office plants”.
So may I present:
an alternative top 20 list of things to try when things turn quiet:
- Setup or refine adwords – If you don’t have an adwords account, set one up to advertise your services. If you do have adwords in place, try some new ad variations and A/B split test the adverts.
- Refresh your web site – Bring it up to date, and create landing pages for your core skills – linking them to your adword (or other) adverts.
- Create marketing material – Create a brochure, flyers and other material for sales presentations, networking and meetings
- Create client case studies – Case studies create a strong story and you can never have too many. Have them in both printed and web based formats.
- Update your CV – Bring your CV up to date with your latest activities, skills and training
- Scour the contracts boards – There are plenty of web boards with both contract and freelance positions available. Search them every morning and the phone will start ringing.
- Start an a/b split test on your web content – You web site may be good, but could it be better? Use A&B testing to see if your visitors agree. I am going to talk about A&B testing tomorrow.
- Write to previous customers – Use your list of contacts, and send them a (good) mailshot asking if they need more work done.
- Make contact with other freelancers for any off shoot work – Use your outlook, Gmail or Linkedin contacts list and make contacts with your social peers in case they need a helping hand
- Send a mailshot to likely local customers – People love to buy local. Hit the yellow pages and send a mailshot to local companies who could use your services
- Lean a new skill through a 30 day teach yourself book – There are lots of great books available to teach you new skills. Take the time to add to your skill set.
- Streamline your business processes – Look at all the aspects of your business from quotation, to invoicing to support. Are there any parts that can be improved, streamlined or automated.
- Invent a value add to your service – Can you take the slack time to add a new feature of benefit which would make you or your product more sellable?
- Create an off line revenue generation idea – Do some brain storming and start a bolt-on enterprise to generate money whilst you sleep.
- Look for more LinkedIn contacts, and tell all contacts of your availability – If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn contacts for a while, time to see who else is worth adding
- Review your company spending costs – If times are lean, maybe it’s time to review your company spending and see what costs can be cut to increase profit
- Think about taking on a short term Contract – You may prefer working from home on a freelance basis, but when times are tough, don’t rule out taking a short contract through an agency. Very short (day or week length) contracts sometimes pay very well.
- Spend time doing a technology refresh – Look at the tools that you use – can they do with a clean up or upgrade?
- Investigate (R&D) on new products – Things are always changing. Take some time to do some web research or attend open events. What new products are out there, what are suppliers launching?
- Clean your environment and do filing whilst you wait for work to come on – And of course the office clean. But only when you have done everything else and are waiting for the phone to ring.
Last week I found myself in an interesting discussion with a Marketing guru. This lady suggested to me that to sell more of my services, I needed to remember CP30 and R2D2 from Star Wars. Yeah, I know…. its an odd comparison. But stick with me.
The question she posed to me (and you should answer now) was as follows:
George Lucas phones you tonight to tell you that the star wars droids are real, and that you can have one for your home free of charge. He will arrange for one to be delivered to your house tomorrow – which do you want – R2D2 or C3PO?
This marketing guru said that when asked, over 90% of people would pick R2D2. There are many reasons for this – he is friendly (not sure how beeps and fart sounds can be friendly), he is cuter, he is more of a hero that C3PO, he is a lot less grumpy/stuck-up and he is a lot cooler than C3PO.
Great! So R2D2 gets delivered, and he trundles around the house for a while. But then what? Yeah, he may be cool, but can you communicate with him? Can he do the dishes? Can he wash your car, make your bed, make you a cup of tea or pop some toast in the toaster for you? No!
What you really NEED is C3PO. He can do all the things that R2D2 can do (which is effectively talk to wall interface ports to open blast shield doors), plus make you tea, toast, etc. He can even climb the stairs.
The point she (and now I) was making is that given a choice, peoples first choice is the cool, the trendy, the one that will get nods of approval from other people. But what people really NEED is the thing that can do the job.
The secret is of course, is to make you service or product offering as cute and cool as R2D2, but once the wow factor has passed, to be able to get on and do the job.
I have a number of customers; some are new customers and we are just starting to do business together, and some are customers I have had for many years. But there is one thing in common for all of my customers. NONE of them are my friends.
It’s something I sometimes struggle to remember. It’s very easy to treat them as friends because we know each other so well, spend so much time together and even do trips together where we share meals and drinks at night. But, they are not friends. At the end of the day, they are customers, and there are many good reasons for remembering to treat them as such:
- Friends you joke around with, but customers deserve respect and professionalism. At all times
- Friendship leads to familiarity, familiarity leads to contempt, and contempt leads to ex-customers
- It is much harder to negotiate terms, rates and situations with friends
- Friends can ask for favours – customers can’t (well they can, but it’s harder)
- With friends you share secrets – you may bad mouth people, but in front of customers every previous project, customer and even competitor deserves respect. Otherwise, what will they think you are saying about them?
- Friends can call you up at weekends – customers can also call you, but they get charged 7day support for doing so
- Customers pay you, friends don’t
I am not saying that you have to be stand-off-ish. You can be friendly, courteous, and can even share a joke over a drink. But at the end of the day, your customers are just that – customers – and should be treated as such.