Before you start, you need to ensure that there is a comfortable and informal atmosphere. It is important to make your client feel as relaxed as possible.
- Providing coffee or tea before the interview will act as an icebreaker. Being in front of someone perceived to be an expert can induce stress in your client so aim to relieve their anxiety and put them at ease.
- Greet the client in a friendly way; be encouraging; establish eye contact. Some clients, for example, will expect to shake hands but others may find it embarrassing. If you are meeting a client for the first time, confirm their name by greeting them with it
- Tell them your name. If you give them a business card, it may help to include your first name. Avoid a long list of qualifications!
- Empathise with the client and aim to establish a rapport as quickly as possible. The first few minutes of any advisory session are important, but for a client who has never before received business advice support, the first few minutes can be even more crucial.
- At the beginning of the session, it is reasonable for the adviser to explain how long they have for the session, if there is a time constraint.
- Ensure that you give the client your full attention. Do not take telephone calls or allow interruptions. Do not read other papers or look as though you are not concentrating.
For a new client, the greeting component may take some time; for an existing client, with whom you have already developed a good relationship, it will probably take just a couple of minutes. Whatever you do, however, it is important to help the client to relax into the session.