How we managed to build trust with our clients
Before we start I want to state a caveat. What is told throughout this article is from the point of view of a company which sells a service based on billable hours. So, it’s not a one size fits all type of story.
One of the most common reasons for which we would get in an argument with a client was the reporting part. This usually refers to typos, duplicate or unclear numbers found in the final report. And don’t forget about those delays in sending it which also adds up to the arguments.
But that’s just a part of the issue. My biggest concern was that I felt scared to open casual conversations with my clients because they could ask me the report and I would have to go through the reporting pain earlier than usual. I always felt indebted to my clients because the reports I send were (maybe) not flawless.
The process before sending the report to the client was the following:
- preparing mentally for the task (it really was a pain in the ass)
- gather all the sheets from the employees
- check the validity of their spelling: be sure there is a standardized way of naming projects
- read the descriptions of the tasks completed by the employees
- put together all the tasks completed by all the employees for every client
- calculate the hours to be paid on every project
- formatting the table so it looks nice and clean
- doing a double check
- hoping for the best :)
After we started to use Fiirefly we got rid of the grueling part of reporting stated above. Now we just download the report, read it and then send it to the client without any delay. The main benefit was that I no longer had to go through all that “reporting pain”.
But we did not stopped here and we began to track if there is any improvement in the relationship with our clients. These are the insights we gained:
- Improved communication
How do you measure that? We thought that our conversations’ length could be an indicator. So, we noticed that we were having longer conversations than before and also more meaningful ones. All of a sudden, it wasn’t just about business. We started to talk about our families, hobbies, things like that.
- More business
Most of our clients continued our partnership with us and also gave us more projects to work at. That’s when we realized it’s not just about what you deliver, but also how you deliver. And make the client sure that you are honest from the bits you deliver to the numbers you report.
Not only or clients gave us more projects , but they refer us to their fellow business friends. In this way we expanded our network and grow our business. So, after a while the main business channel became word of mouth by referral.
- Faster payment
We also observed the payment times tented much earlier than before. I think this kind of things outlines the trust that has been building between you and your clients.
So, the point here is that we thought Fiirefly would help us to improve the reporting, but in fact brought us other benefits we did not expected to get. The four improvement points we outlined above relies on trust. We managed to make our clients trusting us and build a solid relationship with them. A relationship which got from B2B (business to business) to H2H (human to human), and this is our greatest triumph.
But we are not the only winners in this story. Once we started using Fiirefly, the level of detail in the data we collected increased. So, the reports sent to our clients gave them access to insights they never had before. They could grasp in a blink how profitable the project have been, where the majority of money went and which are the improvement points. This way, they became vocal and even more involved in running the project. Basically, we created a feedback loop that would benefit both parties.
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