A former teammate of mine passed around a really interesting article recently, arguing for the abolishment of the phrase “let me know how I can help“. It was a great read, and brought me to a stop for a moment as I pondered almost every email with a potential (or even current) customer I would end that way. But I had that moment of insecurity, was I doing everything I could to best serve my customers and ensure them that I truly was there to help without putting the burden back on them?
Inevitably conversations with new clients would reach a point where we needed to discuss solutions, and I thought by letting the client dictate what they wanted from me, I was allowing them to get exactly what they were looking for.
But the reality was this was a load of shit. By ending my emails like this, I was dropping a wheel-barrel full of work on my client’s desk, and saying “here, you deal with it.”
In certain circumstances, like that of a freelancer, I completely understand and agree with his argument. Clients are coming to you with very specific needs, and you are the expert to help them. Tell them what they want to hear, don’t continually put everything back on them. That is a mentality I hadn’t even thought about, and really love. But, I’m not convinced this is the right argument for all situations. When you are in a support or sales role, you want that customer to think that you’re there for them, that you truly care. That last sentence in the email really makes or breaks how you feel about the person and more importantly, the product or service that person represents.
I understand that “let me know how I can help” sounds cliche and actually imparts the opposite feeling of help…in fact, I’d argue that exact statement says “I don’t know what to say here, but this is what I think I should say.” But the sentiment is what we should be focused on. Is there truly anything else I can do go help you? Are there needs you have that just haven’t come up yet? Did this conversation spur another question in your head that you need to ask me? Do you truly believe that I genuinely do want to help you with anything you might need?
Once I realized how disingenuous the phrase “let me know how I can help” sounded, I wanted to come up with something that passed on the same sentiment, but also passed along just how truly and genuinely happy I was to help them with anything they might need. Instead of “let me know how I can help”, I started saying…
If you need anything else, I’m here.
For me, that really summed it up. If you ever need anything, I’m here for you. Not because I have to be, but because I want to be. We don’t take care of people because it is our job. We take care of people because it brings us genuine satisfaction and happiness to do so. That’s not to say a freelance designer/developer doesn’t genuinely enjoy taking care of people, I just think it’s a different circumstance. And sometimes, it is ok to put things back on the customer. We are there for them, and they should know that.