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Take good care of the canary

Creative Commons License photo credit: matticgn

Yesterday, we talked about David Lee Roth’s M&Ms trick and how it acted somewhat like a canary in the coal mine.

It probably looked like a silly “diva clause” to everyone but Roth. A little, unimportant detail.

These little details that your competitors ignore or see as unimportant might be the one thing that customers view as an indicator of additional, more serious problems.

They’ll stick out even more when you take care of them, as if you pointed a laser beam at the very things they never wanted anyone to notice.

Don’t let those little things undermine your customer relationships. Use them.

2 replies on “Take good care of the canary”

One of my standard “canary in a coal mine” tests with new clients is asking for pre-paid hours which is non-refundable. More often than not, they pay it. Those who don’t, I know are not serious about their project and trouble lays ahead. Unwaivering demands for feature creep and no increase in the time lines or budgets, won’t sign off on milestones, won’t test new builds (with their requested features in it), late payments, etc.

Another one is when I quote a rate. If they say yes instantly, I know I came in too cheap (in their eyes, not mine). If they hem and haw, I’m too high. Ideal is about a 2 second pause before saying “OK”.

Why would that even matter? Clients like to know they are getting a good deal. But price is not everything. Its value they are after.

When you quote a price that gives them a slight pause, its more than just how much something costs. Its a reflection of your group. It telegraphs what types of clients you service. There is a sense of inclusion knowing that the client will soon be getting the service the big clients get. Oddly enough, it makes them feel a bit better.

Of course, you must deliver on your promises, ideally a little more than what they paid for. All clients and customers like to know they are getting a little bit more than what they paid for.

But it all starts with your own canary in a coal mine.

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