In the course of your support sessions, both you and your client have actions steps to take. Both of you need to be committed and accountable to each other. These are tasks that must be completed between support sessions in order for you to move forward.
Get Client-Generated Steps
The action steps created in your sessions work best if they’re client-generated. If you lay out a plan and tell them what to do, they’re far less likely to actually do it than if they’ve chosen those steps themselves. You’re not the boss but rather a support with years of experience and knowledge your client lacks. Ask for their inputs first and then help them modify the support steps. Make sure all action steps are chosen by consensus.
Verbalize the steps
When your client suggest something they should do and you recognize it as a suitable action step, ask them something like, ‘Is that the step you want to take?’ They should then say back to you, ‘Yes, that’s what I’m going to do.’ What this does is take a suggestion and turn it into a task to be carried out. Verbalizing the task solidifies it in your client’s mind and makes them visualize getting it done.
All action steps for both you and the client should be written down. Send the file to them by email or through the chat service you use with your helpdesk.
It may be a good idea to set up a reminder system. Your client may get busy and forget that they have something to do. You can schedule email reminders and send them to your client. The reminders should reconfirm the details of what needs to be done. Some Helpdesks automate this by using an email autoresponder for clients. As long as you’re doing this, you might include daily motivation tips or inspirational quotes to nudge them along.
Get Out when Getting Stuck
Create a plan for how to deal with challenges if a client gets stuck on a task. You might agree on a certain number of out-of-session emails they can send you with questions. Outline clearly when they are to contact you and when they should not. If it’s not a critical task, you can ask them to move on to something else and you’ll deal with it in the next session.
Encouraging but Firm
Be firm about these action steps. Remember that when your clients take action and work toward the goals, this empowers them. Failing to do so weakens their commitment to attaining the goals. Make sure your client understands that if you’re strict, it’s for their own good.
Reward and Acknowledge
Whenever they complete an action step or sub-goal, give them a great deal of praise and acknowledgement. People have to be shown the progress they’re making. Hold mini-celebrations or send emails that say, ‘I just wanted to let you know you’re doing a great job.’ This keeps their commitment strong and builds confidence.
No Should’s or Ought’s
Whenever communicating with clients, avoid equivocal language or words such as ‘should’ or ‘ought.’ Replace them with decisive words like ‘will.’ Instead of ‘what should I do to help’ they should ask ‘what will I do.’ This is a small detail but it has a powerful psychological effect.