Clear and strong boundaries are extremely important for a pleasant long term equation between you and your clients. In this third segment of the miniseries, “Keeping Your Customers Delighted, While Also Maintaining Your Own Sanity and Joy”, I talk about:
- Why it’s so important to enforce boundaries early in your business journey
- How to enforce them gently and politely
- In what ways this will benefit you, as well as your clients
- Being confident in your abilities and uniqueness
- Attracting customers who are the right fit for you and your team
- When and how to make exceptions to your boundaries
- And more
Listen on the embedded player below, or on your preferred podcast platform. If reading is your jam, then scroll down for the transcript. Enjoy! 🙂
“It’s not just about the product, right? It’s a whole formula. It’s the product, it’s your brand, it’s you, it’s the atmosphere, it’s your team – everything that goes into it. So even if it’s the same thing that ten people provide, each one will be unique in its own way. Each experience, each product, it’ll have its own unique feel to it, the whole package.”Susmitha Veganosaurus – The Feel Good Factor Podcast
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Transcript of Joyful Customer Delight Part Three – Boundaries for Healthy Business Relationships
(edited for a better reading experience)
Hello again. I’m back after a week’s break, I was travelling to attend my cousin’s wedding. He’s the youngest cousin of the lot of us, so in my eyes, he’s still a little baby. I can only remember all the days when he used to run around, or even crawl around, with the two little ponytails on his head and stuff like that. And now there he was getting married. Wow, they do grow up so fast.
Not having kids of my own, I thought I would be spared all these emotional experiences of, you know, watching them grow up too fast. But nope. As long as you have cousins and nephews and nieces and all of them, you’re never going to be spared this.
Anyway, let’s continue on with the miniseries about keeping your customers delighted while also maintaining your own sanity and joy. This is part three.
Part one was all about pricing right and making sure that it’s fair to you. Valuing your products and services, but also attracting and retaining your customers. And how to go about that.
Part Two was about the ordering process. The whole ordering process and the step by step of it. How smooth it should be, and how clear it should be and everything. And how to make it hassle free for yourself as well as your potential customers.
Today’s topic is about boundaries and setting up systems.
This is something I went into in episode two. We did delve into boundaries a bit. But this is something that’s so important we need to go deeper into it. It’s great to promise things to your clients, to deliver certain things, at a certain time, in a certain way. And yes, be upfront and clear. And of course, whatever you have promised, make sure you deliver it. That is very, very important.
But also it’s important to remember that you don’t promise things, you don’t tell them you can do things, that you’re not very comfortable doing. You don’t go too much out of your way for that. Either a very urgent timeline, if somebody’s hurrying you up beyond your comfort zone or beyond your capabilities. Don’t push yourself too hard. That’s not a good thing. Or say, if somebody is basically overstaying their welcome. Don’t encourage that.
It’s not good for you or for your clients or for your long term relationship.
Because when you start making these exceptions… you know in the beginning, especially when you’re a new business, when you’re really young (and not just a business but a freelancer, creator, whatever it is you’re doing), when you’re new to it, you’re very enthusiastic. And you’re willing to push yourself more and more because just getting those clients building those relationships, just that is such a joyful experience.
You’re like, “it’s okay, I will work till midnight, I will work till 2 am. I will push it and make things happen! All these last minute requests and all these things.” It’s natural to feel that way. But the sooner you stop doing that, the better it is.
The reason for this is of course, obviously it’s not sustainable for you to keep on pushing yourself beyond a certain point. But more importantly, once your clients get used to that kind of a service from you, they also will start expecting it all the time.
You will be taken for granted.
And then when you finally do place your boundaries and say, “No, no, this is the time limit. You have to order three days in advance/one week in advance. Only then will I be able to deliver this to you, or make this happen for you.” When you start doing that, regardless of how excellent your service is otherwise, or how top notch quality your products or whatever you’re offering is otherwise, because they’re already used to you kind of pushing yourself too much and succumbing to all those last minute requests and things like that, they will keep expecting that out of you. And then they won’t be happy with whatever you provide, because of those expectations.
So, learn to set expectations, clear expectations, early on.
And you can place you boundaries in a very, very polite, very, very nice way. You can say “no”, very, very sweetly. In a way that they will understand.
You know we all, humans are… I mean, we are animals too. So we all need to be trained in certain things. You will see that with your own habits. You need to train yourself to be a certain way to create certain habits.
It’s the same thing with your customers, your clients. They also need to be trained.
I don’t mean it in a condescending way or anything regarding them. But think of it that way and then you create those boundaries and insist on sticking to them as much as possible.
There may be times when you may be able to… you’re like, “oh, I have all this free time. So let me just go out of the way to do things, indulge requests”, and things like that. But that is going to create bad habits for you and for them. So that’s not fair to either of you, and it’s not very nice.
Another thing that happens is once they expect a certain thing out of you, once they expect this out of the way behaviour out of you, they won’t take your actual boundaries seriously.
Because they’re like, “okay, anyway last minute, it’s okay. I know the deadline is three days in advance, but it’s okay. The day before, I’ll make up my mind. And just the day before I need it I’ll call them. Anyway it’ll happen for me.” Once they start doing that… there is a point where you won’t be able to make that happen. And then if it’s very last minute, and you can’t make it happen, they will get very, very upset because their expectation is any way you’re going to deliver. Right? So these are not nice things.
These are not very healthy ways to build your relationships with your customers and your clients.
I’ll give you an example from my own business. When we used to run our restaurant, we would very clearly put it everywhere, on the website, on Google, everywhere. We would very clearly say that the restaurant closes at 11pm, so the kitchen closes at 10:30pm.
Even though we made that very clear, people would still land up closer to 11 and then demand food, and expect us to do stuff for them. Or there would be some people who’d just come really late, and sit and order and then just be hanging around till quite late in the night.
And, you know, that wasn’t very nice for my team either, right? They’re working all day long, especially on weekends. Like, it’s a very, very hectic schedule. And then at the end of the day when it’s time for them to close up and relax, people are still hanging around, still sitting around, and just delaying that whole process. So that was not very nice.
More than my team it used to bother me! I was always very protective of my team members.
I mean, they are an amazing team. They do wonderful work. They’re hardworking, they’re diligent, they’re dependable, all those things. I appreciate all of that. So when they’re doing all of this, I don’t think it’s nice to just keep pushing them and expecting too much more out of them. And even on days when they were trying to be polite, the team would say “no, it’s okay”, I would still be like, “nope, people are overstaying their welcome. Let us push them out.”
Of course, on the inside I would be like, “Grr. Why are these people overstaying their welcome?” But obviously, on the outside I would express that in a very, very nice way. Haha
One couple had come in. It was nearly 11 and they were still just sitting around, and I had to ask them to leave.
We’d be on the first floor of the building and the main door of the building would get closed after our restaurant closed because ours was the last business to close in the building. I used that as the reason. It was also partial truth that even the security uncle would be waiting for us to leave so that he could lock up and go to sleep.
So I kind of worded it differently saying, “Hey, I’m so sorry, you have to leave. But we can’t do anything. The owner of the building will get upset if we go on till too late, and the security person will be upset”, and I kind of put it on them, and made it very nice and you know, very genuine. And I asked them to leave. Those people, very nicely they said “okay”, and they hurried up a bit and left.
Soon after that, they left a review for us.
And the review also said exactly this. They’re like, you know, “the food was good”, blah blah blah all that, they spoke about the food, and then they’re like, “and then we were kicked out of the place in the sweetest way, most polite way possible.” That was…when I read that I started laughing out loud.
You know, that… that is an example of placing or insisting on your boundaries in such a way that the person on the other side also feels very good about it and you also feel very good about it and there is no ill feeling at all.
So it’s very possible. You can think of different reasons and you can word it in such a way that a person, they respond to it well. They understand you and they say, “okay, yeah.”
You know, this question often comes to me like, “Oh, if we place boundaries, if we do all these limits, won’t people stop coming to us?”
I said this in the last episode, but it bears repeating. Don’t worry about that. Because when you insist on these certain systems, these certain boundaries, when you stick to these practices, you will only attract the right people for you. The people who are the right fit.
Anybody who’s going to make a big fuss about it and go away, honestly, they don’t deserve your service, your product, whatever it is you’re offering. Please let them go away.
See, that’s why it’s so important that what you’re providing is fantastic. There should be no compromise on the quality of your service, your product, your anything. That should be fantastic, okay? And you of course – you, your team should be really, really lovely people to deal with that. There’s no question about it.
Once you do that, you be confident! You say, “hey, you know what, this is what I’m offering. This is my uniqueness. Nobody else is offering this the way I am.”
It’s not just about the product, right? It’s a whole formula. It’s the product, it’s your brand, it’s you, it’s the atmosphere, it’s your team – everything that goes into it. So even if it’s the same thing that ten people provide, each one will be unique in its own way. Each experience, each product, it’ll have its own unique feel to it, the whole package.
So you be confident that, “see, this is unique to me, this is what I’m doing, this what I’m providing.”
If somebody really doesn’t want it because they’re not happy with following certain time limits or whatever it is, if they’re not understanding about it, then they don’t deserve it. That’s it. It’s as simple as that.
And when you do that, all the people who do deserve it, who do value and appreciate you and who are willing to respect your processes, your boundaries, limitations…or not even limitations, just your comfort zone, right? People who respect that, who don’t make a fuss about it, they will come to you, and they will appreciate you.
Then, because you are working in your comfort zone and you’re doing really well, you’re able to pour your heart and soul into whatever you provide.
Because you’re happy, you’re comfortable, you’re not working till 2 am In the night or whatever, right? You’re not doing all that, or you’re not doing some rush last minute service which is very difficult for you. You are also working at a pace that is right for you, that is healthy for you. And when you do that, you will continue to provide that excellent experience to your clients and customers. There is no two ways about it.
This is why it’s so important to express your boundaries clearly, politely, as early as possible in your business journey. And then stick to it. Just stick to it.
Yeah, okay. There may be some very, very close customers, very, very valued people, who may genuinely have some kind of an emergency. Not just simply waiting till the last moment because they’ve taken it for granted, but they genuinely need whatever you’re providing soon. This is a case where you can make an exception.
But you only have to do it once in a rare while, and you only do this once you get to know that client or customer. Never do this for new ones. Because the new ones, you don’t know. You don’t know who it is, you don’t know how much they’re gonna take you for granted, how much they will take you for a ride. All these things you don’t know. But once you build a relationship, then you consider it. Again, based on what you’re capable of doing, what position you’re in, in that particular time of the week or whatever it is. Based on that, you make those few exceptions, no problem. But don’t start.
Don’t start any of your client relationships by making exceptions, by going out of the way, and by bending over backwards.
I’m going to end the episode by telling you this really nice quote that I’d read somewhere. It goes, “saying no to the wrong opportunities is equally important as saying yes to the right ones.” Let that sink in. And then based on that you make your decisions.
All right. I’ll be back again soon with the next part in the series about keeping your customers delighted while also maintaining your own sanity and joy. Take care.
Transcribed using Otter
“I’m a Spiritual Vegan Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur. I read voraciously, find humour in most things, and believe kindness and authenticity can make this world a happier, loving place.
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