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The Boomer Bulletin - 2011
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Create an Experience for Your Clients

Posted By Sue Thiemann, Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Loyal clients can be an important driver of sustainable business growth.  Clients 
who are advocates can take your firm to the next level. They're usually much less price-sensitive, can be nearly immune to competitive entreaties, and can become a powerful marketing arm, going out of their way to promote and defend your company online and off -- for free. One goal of good client service is to move satisfied, loyal clients to become advocates for your firm and your services.

It is often the details that clients recall even more than the service they received. Little details that clients notice and that makes them feel good about not only making the purchase, but making the purchase from you, are a significant part of the overall client experience. There are consistent actions employees in a firm may take to advance their client experience from satisfied and loyal to becoming an advocate for their firm and services.

Whatever your business and its size, get to know each client as well as a beloved bartender, doorman, or hairstylist would. For example, the kind who would know each client's preferences, the name of her pet, when she was in last and other details.Computer-assisted client-tracking systems -- and an attentive staff -- can help create that same "at home" feeling in your clients -- regardless of the size and price point of your business, and whether it's an online or brick-and-mortar operation.

Create and rehearse a list of vocabulary words and expressions that fit your firm perfectly. Cut out all off-brand language.  For example, the expression "no worries" may sound fine from a clerk at a Portland audio equipment store, but not from a manager in an accounting firm.  What's more, search out and replace any vocabulary words that could bruise client feelings. For instance, avoid telling a client: "You owe us." Try instead: "Our records seem to show a balance. . ." Employees of some successful companies carry pocket-sized cards with handy reminders of recommended and discouraged phrases to use in a variety of common scenarios.

Make every hello and goodbye perfect. Psychological studies demonstrate that clients remember the first and last minutes of a service encounter much more vividly -- and for much longer -- than all the rest. The first and final elements of your client interactions should be particularly well-engineered, because they are going to stick in the client's memory. 

There is nothing more flattering, there is nothing that makes someone feel more special, than receiving a warm, friendly greeting by name when walking into a place of business.

Don't we all have a story about the coffee shop waitress who doesn't ever need to be told how we like our iced tea or the restaurant where the cook starts to make the same thing you always order the minute he sees you walk in the door? The salesperson that sends gifts in pink because she remembers that's your favorite color. The florist who never puts a particular flower in an arrangement because they remember it makes you sneeze or the wine shop that calls you when a certain vintage comes in because they know you're partial to it. These experiences add value, and they also instill an enormous amount of loyalty.

Is there anything you and your staff can do to ensure your clients know that you not only pay attention to their preferences, but remember them and cater to them for each and every transaction?

Do you or your staff regularly walk clients to the door and open it for them as they're leaving?

What do you do to show your clients that you appreciate them? After all, there are probably several other businesses that do what you do. Do you show the clients who choose to patronize you that you value and appreciate their business? Feeling appreciated is an experience that is universally meaningful.

Always be sure to let them know that you are extending this extra to them because they are a valued client and you want to show them that you appreciate them. And one of the easiest and most overlooked ways to show them appreciation is to send a handwritten note on lovely stationary.

Speed up your service
Modern clients expect speedier service than did any generation before them. Not only speedier than their parents expected, but even than they themselves expected last year. In the age of iPhones and, you may as well not deliver your product or service if you're going to deliver it late.

Show your personality
When clients choose to interact with a person at your company, they want the transaction to be, well, human -- even in an online interaction.  For example, why send emails to clients from a Please-do-not-reply-to-this address?  Instead, if possible, invite recipients, even of your mass emails, to respond directly -- and, of course, make sure someone answers those replies when they come.

The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
Meaningful, memorable, fun, unusual and unexpected experiences influence the way clients perceive you in general and feel about you in particular. These little details are so easy to overlook, so tempting to brush off as unimportant. But add a number of seemingly minor details together, and you end up with something of far more value than you would without them.

It's the little details that keep a client coming back over and over, it's the little details that cause a client to rationalize paying more because she feels she is getting more, it's the little details that keep people talking about you and recommending everyone they know to you.

Anyone can do the big things right; it's the little things that differentiate one business from another and that influence clients to choose one over the other. Often, small-business owners cut out the little details when times get tough, and this is a big mistake. Attentiveness and recognition cost nothing, nor do personalization and consideration.

Tags:  client service 

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