Acknowledging Your Own ‘Stock Value’

Recently, I had a big ‘personal event’ in my life (I got married!) and for the week before and the week after the wedding, it was difficult to stay as focused on my work and my clients as I normally am.

I had every intention of working on client projects right up until the day before the wedding and to return to work the following Tuesday since we weren’t taking our honeymoon right away—I wanted to minimize the impact of my marriage on my clients. However the clients I had active projects with knew about my upcoming wedding and insisted on making adjustments to their expectations, meeting schedules, etc. so I could actually take off a few extra days to focus on entertaining out of town family, wedding prep details, etc.

What I hadn’t realized is the ‘stock value’ I had earned with these clients through the quality work I have done for them, and delivering on everything I committed to. I was thrilled to realize that I had earned some leeway and didn’t have to put myself and my family out unnecessarily from my concern of neglecting my customers due to personal issues.

I think that we all forget that we are constantly building up our own personal ‘stock value’ with our customers, especially those that we have repeat projects with. We run and run to meet their needs and anticipate needs they may have…we apologize profusely when there are little bumps in the road, even the ones we have no control over…we try to protect them from all of the obstacles that come up in the course of a project…we tend to move our previously calendared meetings to accommodate their calendars. All of these things constitute great client management and customer service…however, it also creates stress.

It’s important to also stop sometimes to acknowledge that you have built up credibility and trust with your clients. Knowing that you have ‘stock value’ with your customers will ensure that you come from a strong, confident place when you DO have to deliver disappointing news re: missed deadlines or problems that occur in the work you do with your clients. Or when you need to adjust the project schedule to accommodate personal emergencies (sick kids, ailing parents, technology issues, etc.).

In the past, I’ve partnered with other consultants who were constantly worrying about disappointing their customers and sometimes it felt like we were running around with our heads cut off vs. calmly, professionally managing the project to meet our goals. I believe that customers can smell that ‘nervousness’ a mile away. There WILL be problems or unexpected developments that arise in the course of a project and I think that it’s more impressive to address those with confidence and assure your customer that you can help them navigate the recovery process vs. apologize profusely with your tail tucked between your legs. It’s part of building up your credibility and professionalism in the eyes of your customer.

Your customers WANT to see you as a trusted partner vs. a ‘hired hand’ and the way that you handle the obstacles that may come up in your work with them can help reinforce that perception.

I encourage you to shift your thinking about the way you approach your work with your customers and let yourself acknowledge the ‘stock value’ you have gained with some of them…as a result, you may be able to alleviate some stress in your day-to-day client work…and that’s a good thing!

About Jen Berkley Jackson

Jen Berkley Jackson, founder and owner of The Insight Advantage, has extensive experience in using various methods (surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews) to integrate the voice of the customer into all functions, helping organizations increase market share, revamp product lines/services, and ultimately increase customer loyalty and retention.

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