I DON’T WANT TO KNOW MY CUSTOMERS
I have heard this statement many times over and over from different people who believe that business is business and knowing your customers intimately can create complications; wrong buddies! Whether you are a freelancer or a salesman selling product from a reputable company; your success largely depends on how good your relationship is with your client. You cannot ignore the fact that a customer is also a person just like you; he can have likes and dislikes, personal preferences and obligations similar to yours. For a freelancer it is very important to create a bond with your customer. Fine as far as the task on hand is concerned; sure you can know all about it and the client will be more than willing to fill you in on all the details. But that is not it is all about. Freelancers act as manufacturers and salesman both. There has to be a symbiotic bond.
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Dale Carnegie is a famous writer who has written a lot of useful books that helped people to succeed in their professions. Carnegie wrote an incident in one of his books about a supplier who had been trying to procure an order for a corporation for his supplies for years. He was offering a good price and was in fact providing better terms for payment too but repeatedly he failed. So one day when he went to visit the President of that particular company he noticed that the ‘president’ was busy in telling his secretary to get hold of a particular baseball card that his son liked and wanted to add to his collection. The supplier made a mental note of it and left; after a couple of days he visited the president of the same company with those baseball cards that the little kid of his desired. The supplier did not mention anything about his products but simply presented those cards to the company’s president telling him that he is an avid fan of collecting baseball cards too and had a few in spare so he thought why not give it to him for his kid. The entire scenario changed; after two days he received a call from the Purchase Manager of the same company informing him that his tender has been approved and he will be a regular supplier of the company from now onwards.
The reason for telling you this short story is simple; knowing your customer regarding his or her professional requirements is good. But it is even better if you can create a personal bond with your client. For a freelancer it is more important as the numbers of clients are generally limited and stronger the bond gets the better your chances of success becomes. In my humble opinion if you can know your client on a personal level without invading his or her privacy you will find that he or she will tend to overlook your short comings and treat you in a more amicable fashion. The little things sometimes make a huge difference. You know your client’s birthday and sent him a simple message of congratulation; it is most likely that he will respect and appreciate your going the extra mile. Do not forget that if you as a freelancer are motivated by praise; your client is equally happy to find a friend and a worker at the same time!