Good customers demonstrate certain behaviors as they work with your company. I’ll list some of the behaviors of our great customers. I call them Investment Behaviors because they demonstrate behaviors from customers who are invested in your firm.
1. Invested customers tell you how you can improve, with a caveat that they still love you. This is common. We ask our customers to pay us to deliver super value to them. I think we pull that off… most of the time. And when we don’t, our customers typically let us know: “Hey, you guys know I love you and that you are awesome, but you need to step it up here.” We improve because they tell us specifically how to improve.
2. Invested customers help you innovate. This relates to #1 above. It is often true that it is NOT the customer’s job to innovate for you. It is hard for a customer to help you do that, especially in our industry. Our industry is strategic (seen in our business coaching) and yet very technical (seen in the compliance and government regulatory requirements). With these two things, it’s hard for a customer to innovate. But I’ve noticed that invested customers will often help you innovate by offering suggestions, tweaks, and small and consistent improvements to your services. They don’t even know they are helping you innovate.
3. Invested customers do what they are supposed to do. Invested customers automatically do what you tell them. If you scope your services to say, “for our firm to do this, you must keep your accounting up to date,” then they do it. If we tell them there are required meetings in working with our firm, then they show up. Invested customers keep their end of the bargain.
4. Invested customers trust you more. This relates to #3 above. When customers are invested in what you are doing for them, then they will trust you more. From trust comes obedience. And, yes, sometimes you need your customers to obey you. After all, you are the proffessional and you can help them if they will let you. From trust also comes the ability for a customer to let you take control of the relationship. They come to you for help, and they need to let you lead them in providing that help. But it is common for humans to try to protect their stuff and control things just to protect themselves. But trust breaks all of that down and allows you to take control of the relationship.
5. Invested customers recognize your value. They don’t question your value. Now, to be clear, they may say, “nah, we don’t need that right now,” but they often follow that up with, “but I totally see how that could be useful to us when the time is right.” Whether they use your particular new services or not, invested customers still recognize value when they see it.
6. Invested customers pay you more money. This relates to #5 above. Great customers recognize value in things and choose to pay for those things. On the other hand, they will not pay for things that are not truly valuable. They won’t be duped. They know what value is, are aware of how to increase that value and are fully aware of when you are not providing value. But if you figure out the value-delivery part, then, BOOM!, you will make more money.
7. Invested customers are harder to serve. It’s true – invested customers are more demanding. Get used to it. If you want them to pay you more money, then they will expect more. It goes with the high payment. If you try to sell snake oil for a high price, invested customers will high-tail it out of your firm. So get ready to work harder for more demanding people if you want customers who display Investment Behaviors.
A few notes in summary. You can ensure your customers demonstrate Investment Behaviors too. It takes time, and the work is hard. But it’s time to start creating a customer base that demonstrates Investment Behaviors. How do you do this?
1. Talk to customers before they come in to your firm. We call this a Value Conversation. Ask them what they value and then align your prices with their value. This matches the value to the price, and this specific process helps them know that they are paying for value.
2. Slow down when bringing clients in. This slowness builds the trust part. They perceive you are trying to listen to them and do what they need. Moving slowly helps you actually listen and let the client take their time to perceive your value.
3. You must innovate new services. You must keep trying to sell new things (this becomes increasingly easier if you are niching in serving specific customers). Through this process, the customer will have the opportunity to say ‘yes’ to the good stuff and ‘no’ to the non-value stuff. They will tell you when you get it right, but they can’t do that unless you keep trying to give them new things they need.
4. Price your services higher. This is a great way to see if your customers value your services. If you are valuable, they will pay. If you are not, they will walk away. A lot of business owners are so scared to do this. But you must do it. Stop charging what everyone else charges. That’s stupid and there is no value differentiation in that. There is inherent value in being different.
5. Fire customers. Frankly, there are some crappy customers out there, and you are probably serving some of them. Fire them! The 7 investment behaviors above can NOT be displayed by divas, buttholes, self-absorbed punks, dookie heads, unknowledgeable hacks and dysfunctional complainers. They’ve got bigger problems and need to hire therapists, not CPAs. Getting rid of these people will open up a whole new world and eliminate the waste from your firm.
If you want customers demonstrating Investment Behaviors, then it is up to you to do the hard work required to let them demonstrate these behaviors. Get started!
Jason is the Founder of Thriveal and the Chief Innovative Officer of his CPA firm, Blumer & Associates. He is the co-host of the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and creatives, his firm’s chosen niche. Jason loves to watch documentaries on just about anything. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife and their three children.