Think about the last exceptional customer service experience you had and what it was that made the experience so incredible. Exceptional experiences are usually created because of the efforts of just one person or a small team. And while I fully believe it takes a village to create a positive organizational culture, it might only take one person's world class actions to make a raving fan. Conversely, one bad apple can burn down the same village.
Never underestimate the power of one. Know that whatever your position within an organization, you have the ability to win over a customer or to drive that customer away. And since I am a big believer in the go big or go home philosophy, I would suggest you do everything within your power to develop a plan to keep your customers for life. Your plan should start with you. Leave it to your competition to provide satisfactory service. On a scale of 1 to 10, you want your score to be a 12.
I was recently speaking to a group of event managers, meeting planners and hospitality industry folks in Philadelphia about the 4 actions required in order to maintain a customer for life. We were all in agreement about the exceptionally important role these four actions play.
Exceed Expectations-- There is a sign taped to my computer that reads, "Set unrealistic expectations, and exceed them." The opposite of this would be, over promise and under deliver. Always fulfill your promises to your customers. Always. If you promise to call your customer back in 5 minutes, call them back in 3 minutes. If you tell your prospect you are going to have a proposal delivered in 24 hours, get it to them in an hour. Challenge yourself to follow through on every promise, return every phone call, answer every question presented to you and do it all with a smile and a thank you. Remember, perception is your customer's reality.
Be Consistent -- People talk, and that's a good thing (or bad, depending on how well you service your clients). Others talking about the amazing service you provide will help you get more referrals and more business. But if your service runs hot and cold, depending on your mood or the day of the week, you are not going to win. The best way to be consistent is to work within the guidelines of a system. There are a myriad of "daily actions" systems available to you to help guide you. When dealing with your customers they want to be treated fairly, consistently and exceptionally.
Inspire and Wow Them -- Turn a meeting into a one on one consultation. If you stop selling and start advising, the magic will begin. You will be at your best and accomplish most when a client trusts you and follows your advice. Stop focusing on closing a deal and collecting a check and start focusing on answering questions and genuinely helping your client. But remember, you are the expert and although you probably know everything about your product or service, there is no need to tell them all you know. I refer to this as puking product. It is critical to keep in mind this is not about you, it's about them.
Get Personal -- You want your client to like you. Not just as a vendor, but as a person. People want to do business with people and they want to feel as though they are your only client. Being personal is essential; being present during every conversation and meeting is critical. Put down the smart phone, put your ringer on silent and focus on every word your client is saying. If they mention something about their oldest child in college, make a mental note. If you come across a news article or blog about the school, send them the link. Make time to understand the elements that make your client "tick." What inspires, motivates and makes your clients truly happy? Get personal and the business will follow.
If you ever question why you lost your last customer or failed to close the deal, review the list of 4 actions above. You may have missed one or all of the actions on the list. Gain trust, understand your client, and help them fix their problems.
(Author's note) The term, it's only business, should never apply. Let me go one step further and say it's never just business. Nobody said this would be easy; nothing worthwhile that lasts a lifetime is.
Invest the time needed to exceed expectations, to be consistent, to develop a relationship and to wow your client, and you will have a client for a lifetime.
Are these the same actions you use or do you have another set to get and keep clients? I welcome your comments below.
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