Setting boundaries to save your sanity
You know how important it is to have a good relationship with your customers and clients. It’s so important you spend a large amount of time working to make your customer experience first class, and you want to be seen as friendly and personable. Genuinely making them feel that you truly care about their success build the type of trust you have always wanted for your Very Important People - your customer. In order to make the relationship healthy, you need to put certain boundaries in place. Those consistent boundaries are essential for building the type of trusting partnership that benefits you both.
Here are 7 tips you can use to manage boundaries and keep your sanity.
1. Check your communication
Make a decision about how you will communicate with customers. Social media and email can be and are appropriate for business communications. As the days go on, text or chat apps become more commonplace in everyday life, but can often feel personal and invasive, things you need to be aware of so your message doesn’t get derailed. Decide whether you want clients contacting you using these apps and understand the impact of both sides of the coin (using them or not…)
2. Really define your services
You want to be there for your anything and al things your customers and clients need, you need to define what services you can and can’t offer. If they want something outside your defined services, decide if you’ll do it for an additional charge. You can also partner with another business whose expertise can properly serve your customer (better than you can. Referrals can and do work both ways).
3. Your hours of operation
When will you be available to your customers? Technology has made it easy to allow our customers to believe we are at their beck and call around the clock. There’s a reason to establish set hours of business, so choose your “hours of operation” and make them known. You know your customers and their needs so keep these in mind as you set guidelines to accommodate them.
4. Make allowances for urgent issues
We know there are cases where you want and need to bend the boundaries you’ve set. You might you tell clients they can reach you for urgent issues by phone. Due to the boundaries you’ve set you may be checking your business emails once a day on the weekends. There’s a fly in the ointment here though if you want this to work effectively. You need to establish specific guidelines about what’s urgent and what isn’t.
5. Keep your distance
There’s always those who don’t quite understand or respect boundaries, and you’ve probably come across a few of these amongst your customers. Identify these people early on and put strategies in place for dealing them them. Be clear and honest with them about what’s possible. Some strategies include:
Make it clear exactly how long you can spend with them (“I’m sorry, I have a meeting in a few minutes”).
Let them know you heard what they have said and acknowledge their feelings (“I can hear your frustration”).
Propose something positive where possible (...”Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do to help with this, but what I can do is…”).
Divert conversations away from too personal topics.
6. Learn how to say “No”
We really struggle with having to say “no” with what seems like a knee-jerk reaction. We all to be helpful and don’t want to offend someone by rejecting their request. However, it’s sometimes necessary to firmly decline, and you should have techniques and strategies in place for doing that. You can:
Suggest someone else who can help when you’re busy
Arrange another time when you can do what the person is requesting
Say “no” clearly and explain why
7. Building trust
All this isn’t about being “nice” or not. It’s incredibly tough to have healthy relationships when the foundation of that relationship is without boundaries. When you define the terms of your relationship you are on your way to building trust and mutual respect with your customers.