Many service-based salespeople think that they should be available at the drop of a hat for any of their clients.
I’m here to tell you this isn’t true.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not an inherently good thing to let customers dictate every aspect of your relationship. By setting boundaries with your clients, you can create a better experience for everyone involved.
Keep reading to find out how.
Set expectations early.
You may or may not be working out of an actual office, but regardless of where you do business, it’s important to have official hours of operation. As early in the relationship as possible, let your clients know the easiest way to get a hold of you, as well as the best times to reach you.
Setting expectations is the key. Put the power in your clients’ hands, and be flexible when you’re able to be. For example, let customers know you respond to emails within 24 hours, but that they might expect a faster response by text. If you want your evenings to be reserved exclusively for time with your family, tell them that you don’t answer calls after 8 p.m. (Trust me: if you don’t do this, they’re liable to call you after midnight asking for your help with something.)
Setting these kinds of boundaries isn’t just for your peace of mind—it also lets clients know that you’re a professional who has a lot on their plate.
Let’s look at this from the customer’s perspective. If you’re thinking about hiring a contractor, and they always pick up their phone on the first ring, are you going to be excited to work with them? Or will you maybe start to wonder why they have so much free time on their hands?
By setting reasonable expectations and sticking to them, you’re telling your clients that you value your own time as well as theirs. On that note…
Keep your clients in the know.
Don’t simply tell your customer when and how to reach you—ask them how theywould like to be contacted. Find out whether they prefer texts, calls, or emails. Then, use that information to stay in touch through every step of the process.
Your clients don’t ever want to feel like they’re being left in the dark. Update them regularly about any transactions you have in progress, as well as any obstacles that might pop up. When you do this, you’re removing the need for them to keep calling you when you’re off the clock.
Top-producing real estate agent Jackie Fischer has a system in place that gives updates to her clients every morning and evening. Her clients feel like they’re being taken care of, and they never have to worry about where they stand.
Another important detail here is that Jackie stays in touch with her clients long after closing. She builds relationships that begin with amazing customer service and grow stronger over time. This approach has led Jackie to a business that thrives on referrals and repeat business.
Setting boundaries today can be the first step to longer, more fruitful client relationships down the line.
Be honest and direct.
You might feel bad about setting boundaries. But be honest: would you rather work with somebody who bends over backwards constantly, or someone who says what you need to hear and what’s best for you?
People work with real estate agents, financial advisors, and other service-based professionals because they want the guidance of an expert. If the person they’ve hired doesn’t know more than they do about the task at hand, what’s the point?
This is why being available all the time isn’t the best approach. Sure, flexibility seems great, but you also need to convey that you’re going to get the job done.
People want to know where they stand when they’re making a major purchase or life decision. They want your expertise. Don’t be afraid to push back a little when your clients want to do something that isn’t in their best interest. Yes, this might be a little offensive to some people. But, in the end, they’ll be grateful you steered them in the right direction.
At the end of the day, your duty is to your client. When you learn to set boundaries and provide the service they really need, you’ll provide them with a better overall experience while also preserving your own sanity.