Every once and a while I get something that is just too good not to share. Dean is a fellow Master’s Program Graduate and is the CEO of one of the finest Ad agencies I’ve ever been exposed to. I received this article last week from him and thought it dovetailed into the branding series I just wrapped up. I hope you enjoy Dean as much as I do -
Take care of your customer or someone else will
If you don’t have the right disciplines in place to super-serve your clients, you will lose them and your reputation.
In one of my recent articles, I wrote that one of the main opportunities that exists in marketing today is exemplary client care. Unfortunately, most companies devote little time to this lost art and many are clueless about the negative ramifications poor client care has on their business.
My goal is to drive home the understanding that if you don’t have the right disciplines in place to super-serve your clients, you will lose them and your reputation. If you do serve them well, you will get more business, more often, and you’ll get more referrals. Guaranteed. Here’s a few thoughts.
1. The first step to amazing client care is just that. You must care. You can’t fake caring. Clients can spot a self-serving sales geek a mile away. If you are out for yourself rather than for your clients, go find a tree, sit under it for a while, and get clear on what it will mean if you get in touch with genuinely caring for your clients. This is client care 101.
2. Next, clarify the expectations of each client. They’re all different. So learn the needs of each and learn what has frustrated them in working with past vendors. You know, learn from the ones they fired. Often, sales people don’t know what to deliver because they don’t ask, or they assume all clients want the same thing. At our agency, we use a questionnaire to clarify client expectations and it works wonders.
3. Invest some up-front time setting up your processes and technologies to automate and simplify servicing your clients. The easier you make it, the more you’ll do it.
4. Make it easy for the client to do business with you. By finding out how they like to work, you can create a client service model for each client. Then review it with them to demonstrate how you see serving them best. This blows clients away and puts you front-of-mind every time.
5. Conduct a client survey when you’re well into the relationship to take a pulse-check on how you’re doing. There have been times I thought I was doing great with a client when in fact, they had quite a different perspective… the perspective that matters. Plus, surveys are useful tools to discover how you can do more business together or ask for referrals. Clients love to know you’re striving to make their lives more efficient, more productive and more enjoyable.
6. Ahhhhh, client problems. Inevitable? Yes! Destructive? It depends on how you handle them. Somewhere in every service person’s mindset there is a twisted idea that problems will disappear or tone down if you postpone dealing with them. When a problem arises, deal with it as if your pants just caught fire… that fast. Also confirm the client is satisfied with how you handled it every time.
7. Keep your commitments to your clients. Sound elementary? You’d be surprised at how many people keep just 70% of their commitments and call themselves pros. Show up on time, deliver when you promised, and follow-up when you said you would. Can we keep every commitment every time? No, but you can often renegotiate it prior to the commitment deadline if you’re having difficulty. That’s your lifeline.
8. Don’t stretch the truth with your clients. For example: “We can get that in four weeks,” when you know it will take five. “We have 45 full-time professionals, “when you only have 35. “Our client satisfaction rate is 100%,” when it’s pushing 80%. We call these sales exaggerations and they’re as common as breathing. If you tell the truth, your character conviction will multiply your results, make you feel better about yourself, and you will create stronger relationships. If you tell little white lies, well, you’re simply a liar.
9. Exceed customer expectations. You don’t have to do it every time, but make it your goal to try. If you exceed expectations occasionally, your client’s perspective will be that you do it all the time.
In closing, you’ve heard the old adages, “poor client care conversations spread like the plague” or “it takes 10 times the effort to get a new client than keep an old one.”Whatever the adage, make it something you commit to simply because that’s who you want to be. The money will follow and so will your clients, wherever you go.