Never Forget An Important Detail
People do business with who they know, like, and trust.
If you’re the face of your business (and for service providers you are), then tag - you’re it.
But here’s a little secret. . .
. . .they don’t actually care about you (at least in the beginning.)
Huh? That makes no sense
It’s NOT know, like, and trust you. It’s know, like, and trust you will take care of them
Your customers need to feel confident you have their back. You will hear me (or see me write) this over and over. . .
. . .Your clients and customers can find plug-and-play services anywhere. Technology provides DIY solutions for things you never, in your wildest dreams, thought possible. YouTube and Google are your competitors, and. . .
. . .they’re free, and available 24/7.
Your clients and customers want feel like they have your undivided attention.
They want to know you care about their specific needs.
Remembering a specific detail about a client, and using it to provide a better service to them is pure gold.
Take this instance from my tax prep days:
A client comes in to pick up her paperwork. As we’re talking, she mentions how busy she’s going to be this summer working on 5 new contracts.
So, towards the end of August I call her to ask, “How’s it going with all those new contracts? Maybe we need to look into adjusting your September tax estimate to you won’t owe a bunch come tax time.”
She responds, ”Oh wow! Good thing you called me. I just got a check from my biggest customer. I guess I should put some back for taxes before it all gets spent.”
Not only have I saved my client tax-time heartache, I will likely save her money.
We’re going to look into her tax situation while she still has a chance to lower her taxes. I have the opportunity to ask about her current situation, and about her plans for the upcoming year.
I can offer advice that fits her unique plans and business style.
You’re not getting that from Turbo Tax my friend.
Remembering little details can supercharge your relationship with your customers. It's a golden opportunity to build the "know, like and trust" factor:
My hair stylist remembers I have a wedding coming up. She calls to make sure I get an appointment before her schedule gets completely booked.
My mechanic calls to see if I need an oil change and tune-up because I mentioned my upcoming family vacation last time I was in.
Sounds delightful but. . .
. . .how in the world can you remember this stuff on top of everything else?
There’s no escaping the information blasted at you from every direction. . .
. . . email, texts, social media, DM’s, sticky notes, and even general conversations.
Ringing, pinging, and chirping at you all day. (Is your head spinning yet?)
At the end of the day I’m way too tired to revisit all these places, and that’s if I even remember I need to because. . .
. . . “I’ll remember that” is the biggest lie I tell myself.
That’s why a great note-taking system is so worth the work.
Spend minimal time dealing with distracting bits of information, and. . .
. . .it doesn't get lost in the chaos of the day.
I’m not going to lie. . .
. . . a system that keeps up with miscellaneous bits of information will take some getting used to, but. . .
. . .doesn’t have to time consuming.
There’s two only steps: 1) collect info, and 2) organize info
Before we begin, remember the one and only rule:
You Must Keep It Simple!
Collecting a piece of info should take only seconds. Organizing all your notes for the day should take no more than 15 minutes.
Collecting the Info
Little bits of info can be super important. For example. . .
. . .a client calls with the price of their new service truck. Even though I need that number to finish their work, I’m likely deep into a totally unrelated task when I get the call.
I need an easy way to jot down the price right then, and get straight back to the task at hand.
I use two methods - write/type it, or voice-to-text - whichever is the most convenient in the moment.
I’ll show you how I do it.
For me, convenience depends whether I’m at a desk or not.
If I’m at my desk. . .
I keep an open doc on my computer desktop titled “Today.” Or, you could call it Steve, or Nancy if your feeling cheeky.
For me this will be an Evernote note (yes, I’m still a fan.) But, it could be a Word or Google Doc - something to use as a digital piece of paper.
As the bits and pieces of info come to me, I add them to the doc. First, I jot down the client’s name then the note.
Basically, I'm keeping a running list of various notes from throughout the day.
This way, I can quickly type the note with minimal interruption to what I'm working on.
If I’m away from my desk. . .
I tell Siri to make the note. If you don’t have an iPhone, apps such as Google Assistant will do the job.
I use my “Today” note in Evernote. Or I can use one titled “Today” in the Notes app that comes on the iPhone. I’m sure other apps will work so you shouldn’t have to switch if you already have an app you know and love.
Then, I ask Siri to “edit note in Evernote” , or “edit Notes” depending on which app I’m using. Siri will guide you through adding info to your “Today” note.
This way you only have one note to review at the end of the day.
Otherwise, Siri will create a new note each time you record new info.
Of course, you can use Siri on your Mac while your at your desk or type in a Google Doc on your phone.
Ultimately, what’s easiest and most convenient for you is the best method.
Go ahead, dive in, and play around. You’ll figure out what works best for you faster this way.
You don’t want to spend hours planning a system only to find out you hate using it.
You’ll end up tossing the whole idea aside because you’ve already wasted too much time. (This is personal experience talking from someone who loves a detailed plan.)
Organizing the info
Now, you have collected all these important bits of information in one place. Yippie. What do I do with it?
You have to be able to find those notes when you need them, or. . .
. . .better still - have them come to you!
My client probably won’t be all that upset if I need them to give me the truck price again, but. . .
. . .it definitely won’t WOW them.
Sorting it by client
Software that organizes customer information is a $40 billion (yes, billion with a B) industry. And, it’s growing bigger as I write.
I’m not getting that fancy pants in this blog, but. . .
. . .software companies are creating apps for small businesses that cost $25 or less per month.
The information age is in full swing, so you may want to bite the bullet sooner than you think. Your competitors will.
But, for now let’s stick with our note apps.
As you’re already aware, I’m a fan of Evernote. FYI - I’m not an affiliate, and Evernote doesn’t pay me anything. It’s an app I know, and have used for years.
Everything I do in Evernote starts with an individual note for each of my clients. The title is simply their name.
I started with a blank note - no frills, no fuss. I’ve formatted custom templates over time, but in the beginning I kept it simple!
All you need is a place to collect notes, and details about a particular client.
To this day, I review a client’s note before I do anything - tax returns, bookkeeping, phone call, meeting, etc.
I never know what tidbit is in there that might make me look like a rockstar to my client.
At the end of the day, I go through and cut-and-paste each item on my “Today” note into the individual client note. I add the day’s date to the new item, and I’m done.
Because you cut-and-paste each item, your “Today” note is clean and ready for the next day. Gotta love two-for-one!
You can go far with this straight forward system.
The make it come to you part
This feature is the first upgrade I recommend making to your note-taking system. It’s value packed, and super simple - reminders, and tags.
In Evernote, all you have to do is click the alarm clock icon within the note to set a date and time.
All notes with reminders are grouped together in the “Reminders” section on the home page.
Evernote will even send an email the morning a reminder is due, if you find it helpful. I believe it’s better to get in the habit of looking at the grouped “Reminders” inside the app.
When you’re setting up your priorities for the day email is the LAST place I recommend you look!
Reminders work great for one-off items you want to remember as you start your day.
If you haven’t used tags before, prepare to be amazed. Not to be overdramatic, but I love how they let me group notes by work type. I can see only the notes I want without searching one-by-one.
You can add or remove a tag on a note at any time, and you can add many tags to a single note.
Let’s go back to my opening story about calling my client to review her estimated tax payment.
I actually have several clients that make estimated tax payments. And, some prefer to review their amounts throughout the year.
Tags allow me to see all those client notes in one place.
I add a tag called “Estimate” to the note for each client that pays estimated taxes. A couple of weeks before the due date I do a search for the “Estimate” tag to group the notes I need.
In less than a second, I have a to-do list of clients I can provide valuable money saving services to.
It’s not just for clients
A note taking system is the perfect way to handle the miscellaneous thoughts you have during the day. (The ones that pop into your mind when you’re trying to concentrate on something else, or taking a shower.)
Jot them down on your “Today” note so you don’t forget them, and keep on working/showering.
These pieces of information will most likely be a mix of business and personal. So, they may, or may not need to go on a specific note.
Some information may be more helpful on a calendar or a to-do list. That’s a topic I cover in an upcoming blog.
Realizing you forgot something important, or letting down people you care about feels. . .
. . .like all the air got sucked out of the room.
Forgetting to call your client at 10:00 like you promised.
Scrambling to find a gift for a friend’s baby shower that starts in two hours.
If you’ve ever felt this kind of heart stopping stress, then you know you don’t want to ever feel it again.
A note taking system is a lifeline.
It will keep important information from being lost = less stress.
And. . .
It will give opportunities to WOW customers = more know, like, and trust.
For a tool powerful enough to change your business, and life it’s hard to believe. . .
. . .you can start today for free.
Yeah, I know time is money. But, we all have little bits of time during the day we can recover (I’m looking at you Facebook and Instagram.)
There’s so much upside compared to the effort to get started. . .
. . .you’ll wish you’d done it sooner.
For even more strategies, be sure to get your copy of, “5 Steps to Take Back Control of Your Business and Life.”