Every Friday night my buddies come over for video game night. — That’s probably a little more information than I should share. But now you know…I’m a nerd. — During that night we usually hook our Xboxes up to a LAN and plan games over Xbox Live…and get PWND by a bunch of twelve-year-olds. My wife (as you probably are now) have questioned why we do this at our age. Quite frankly, it’s because we have fun hanging out with each other. We laugh, make jokes, curse at the TV & in general, have a great time. We do the same thing with College Football, Basketball, BBQs and any other reason to get together and hang out. The point is, we look for reasons to hang out with each other because we enjoy the company.
Let’s contrast that with the relationship we have with our clients. It seems like every Friday night, 10-15 minutes before closing time, one of our clients calls in to our customer service line. Generally, they aren’t laughing or making jokes; however, they do tend to curse (or at least they want to). They’re usually not calling in to spend some quality time building a personal relationship, rather they are calling in because the feel like something isn’t right.
Unfortunately, they are very correct. Something isn’t right. They are forcing communication, communication that should have been there prior to this call.
On occasion, one of my friends will have issues with me, or visa-versa. We are usually able to get over it extremely quickly and move on with our lives. The reason for this is because we’ve spent so much time hanging out. We know we don’t need to take something personally because we trust the other person. A mentor of mine called this the “bank of trust”.
Every time my buddies and I have an interaction, we either make a deposit or a withdrawal from the bank of trust. Every night my buddies get together to have video game night, we all make a deposit to this bank of trust with each other. As our balance increases, our trust of that individual increases and we feel less anxiety when they require our trust. ie, should I let my buddy borrow my car? should I let him watch my house while I’m on vacation? etc. On the other hand, if we have a negative interaction, we end up taking a withdrawal from the bank. ie. if my friend broke my couch during game night, or if he dinged my car when he was borrowing it.
Customer Service isn’t so different. Every time we have an interaction, we’re either making a deposit or taking a withdrawal from the bank of trust. So back to the late Friday call, this is generally the customer showing us that we’re withdrawing again and our balance is getting close to zero or maybe even in the overdraft (customer cancellation).
So what can we do to avoid overdraft fees? Well, just like your bank, you need to add more money to the account. In order to do this, you need to have positive interactions with your clients. Not just answering their call, not just contacting them now and again, but you need real positive interactions. I get to know my buddies birthdays, their family, what’s going on in their life, all through the time we spend hanging out. Why not do the same with your client? Next time you’re on a strategy call, find out who they are, when is their birthday, what are their hobbies? Share with them what yours are. On the next call, follow up on what you found out. This personal interaction will make large deposits into your account and can be the saving grace when you break their couch, dent their car, mess up on their campaign, etc.