We get it, you are an entrepreneur.
You know that is another way of saying you have way too much to do! You have only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. Unfortunately you probably have 1000 things on your to do list! It can be frustrating and overwhelming. You know you must grow your business but find you are barely keeping your head above water with your present customers.
Getting a new customer is much more expensive than keeping an existing one. That new customer generally requires more of your time and attention than keeping an existing customer satisfied. It is critical for every small business owner to understand that without growth through new customers your business will soon be at risk. At the same time, if you can’t keep your existing customers your business is at even more risk. These two critical elements are on top of the time spent on necessary ‘housekeeping issues’ such as accounting, managing employees and keeping up with government regulations that face every business. It’s a lot to keep in balance.
So how do you keep it all in balance?
The best way is to create a strategy that prioritizes your client relationships. You want to be sure that behind every decision you make you are keeping focus on nurturing and building your customer’s experience and relationship with you. In today’s competitive environment, it’s critical that your clients or customers value their relationship with you. If you don’t someone else will be sure to swoop in and provide the experience they seek.
Start with a ‘white glove’ level of service
This seems so obvious but it is consistently missed by most small businesses. In today’s busy environment it’s easy to focus on all you have to do not on what your client is experiencing. If you start with the mindset that this client – every client – will get superior service each time, every time you will attract a raving fan base. Keep an eye open for small ways to improve service rather than quick ways to do less for each customer.
Over time they will notice because you will be doing what others do not bother to do. As you look back on the previous week be sure to ask yourself were there ways we could have stepped up ‘just a little’. You will be surprised at how many ways you can find to surprise and delight your customers. When you do this your clients become ambassadors for your company. When they tell their friends about their experience with you something powerful happens. You get free advertising that always gives an amazing return on investment.
Be honest and transparent
There is only one thing more frustrating to a client than the vague and evasive response. That is an unethical response. Confusing or deceitful answers will sent clients running away from you. They will run into the arms of a business that makes them feel they are valued and important. With just a little but consistent extra effort you can be the business that stands ready to receive those clients running from the others bad service. Your cash register will ring with the sounds of happy long term customers. Remember that trust is build little by little with each positive experience. Unfortunately that trust can be destroyed with a single bad experience. You can’t afford to risk that if you want to grow your business quickly.
Solve their problem – the first time
Never forget what your business does. This is why your business exists in the first place. You found a need that was unfilled and now your business seeks to fill it. Don’t blow the opportunity by creating friction for your clients as they attempt to solve their problem. Empower everyone in your company to get to yes as quickly as possible. Many smart companies set a dollar limit for their team members. If a team member can solve a client’s problem for under that amount, give them permission to do so.
Even if the team members once in a while make a mistake you should support them in their decision. The small amount you lose on their mistake will be easily gained by by the good rapport you build with the other customer’s you help.
Of course, you will want to review and refine the process internally as needed but the clear goal should be that you clients grow to expect a solution to their problem. No one wants to hear: “I will need to get approval for…”. Everyone loves to hear: “I can take care of that for you right now…”
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Customers hate feeling lost in your system. Yes, they understand you have other customers but they don’t want to be the last one to be served. You can avoid that problem with communication. When they don’t hear from you they have time to worry. They have time to wonder if they made the right choice in choosing your business. Don’t give them that opportunity. It’s as simple as letting them know when they can expect progress. Most people will be understanding if you just give them the opportunity.
The easiest sale is the one that is referred by a friend. The sad truth is that most of us will tell ten people of a bad experience but only one or two of a great experience with a company. You can change that dynamic by simply asking for a referral. There are many ways to do this but the easiest one is to ask following a big win.
For example, if a client expresses pleasure with the outcome of something you did accept the compliment. Follow that with your request for a referral or a testimonial. Here is how that can happen:
Mrs. Jones: “Wow this is beautiful and it took less time than I expected.”
You: “Thank you for your kind words. Mrs. Jones could I ask a favor? Would you help me to help others experience this level of service? You would be doing them – and us – a big favor.”
Look at what just happened. Mrs. Jones gave a sincere compliment. You have done something unexpected and great. In a sense Mrs. Jones feels in your debt (even just a little). It is natural to return a favor when we experience a kindness. The moment will fade quickly. At the moment you get a compliment from a client is the time to ask for a referral.
If we ever fall short of these ideals please let us know. We want to make sure we give our wonderful clients an incredible experience. If you know of ways that we can improve our service, please honor us with your suggestions. If you have other tips and techniques that you have found in your business for giving great service to your clients, please let us know!