If You Think Keeping Clients Satisfied is Hard, Try Losing and Having to Replace One

Does it seem to you that companies are only paying lip service to customer satisfaction? Have you gone to the store and asked for help only to feel like you are being extremely bothersome?

A Culture of Poor Service, Low Expectations, or Have We Become Boiling Frogs?
When we call our service provider for cable TV or internet services, how long have all of us been put on hold to change a service, get someone to help us, question a charge, or set up an appointment for installation?

And why is it that I am saying "thank you" instead of the customer service rep saying "thank you"? Who teaches these customer service people, who seem to be more surly every day, to say, "No problem" to our "Thank you"? Why am I even saying "thank you" to them?  When did this start?

I think Chick-fil-A has it partially right when they wait on us, with, "My pleasure" in reply to our "Thank you" as we reach across the counter for our trays of food.

But even then, shouldn't their response be "No, no, no! Thank YOU!!"? With a big emphasis on the YOU.

Have we just become numb to bad service? Have we all just given up? Have we become the boiling frog in the pan of hot water that we don't even notice that the water is beginning to boil?

And, because we are numb, has our low expectations drifted into providing poor service to our clients too?

Are We Expressing Our Appreciation Very Well? At All?
Many of you don't provide commodity services, don't place chicken sandwiches on trays, and don't answer cable service problem phone calls. We provide strategic, big ticket items. Which makes this all the more important. When clients choose our firms to solve their big problems or achieve their big goals, shouldn't our management (or you!) make a big deal of reaching out to their organization's leadership to let them know how much we appreciate their business?

Didn't we all do this at one time? Why not now use this as an opportunity to differentiate yourself at the professional level by having this conversation to explain that we want to create such a great value-based relationship. Even more, that we look at this as an opportunity to develop a lifelong approach to keeping their business by keeping them satisfied. And even more--helping them establish value to their customers.

Shouldn't management be saying to clients who buy our services and solutions, "Look. You placed a great deal of confidence in us with your order. I want you to feel free to tell me how we are doing ANY TIME. Here is my business card--my cell phone number and my email address. Let me know what we need to do if you are ever even slightly unhappy. Call me day or night--weekend or holiday." Do people still do this? And really mean it?

I think too many people say after winning a piece of business, "God, (there are no atheists in this business) now we have to implement this." Or they think this, I have to get to back to my laptop and look at the 400 emails that I missed (that say nothing by the way).

I believe all clients could use better service. I believe all clients want better service. Who doesn't? And without the almost silent groan of being bothered.

Has the cable service call center industry with its poor service seeped into our business culture? Where is that. "I am so glad you called. Tell me how I/we can be better?" Or even the, "You bet. Let me see what we can do to help you" attitude we all once had when our clients asked us for help.

Perspective: A Matter of Looking Backward from the Future
For perspective try losing a client--lost revenue and margin (i.e. profit, jobs, yours and mine). And then remember the hoops you went through trying to steal a competitor's client to replace that business you lost.

I can tell you this much--if you think your client was hard to deal with, your competitor's clients are even harder to deal with.

My point is this in case I am being indirect: KEEP YOUR CLIENTS HAPPY. It is the little things that count. Both good and bad. Do you do little things for your clients? Do you let them know you did this little thing for them? It's the little things that add up to become big things.

What Do Clients Want? The Little Things Matter
What kind of little things do clients want? In my research (see the book Clientize, the study of exceptional professionals, below) I found that clients want someone who manages their account to understand their priorities, solve problems before being asked, take responsibility when problems occur, report ahead of time--issues and challenges and how you recommend they be addressed, ideas and opportunities--even if your firm does not provide the services.

Of course this only scratches the surface. But they want professionals who are observant, not oblivious.

Become Observant and Get Aligned With The People
Doing the little things is a matter of being observant. Look for ways to help. Straighten up the picture that is hanging off center. Read their earnings report to understand their challenges. Understand the clients pressures--from an organizational perspective and a personal perspective (stuff flows downhill).

Make working with you easy. How? Talk the client's language--if they speak ROI--you speak ROI. If the client speaks using words like: "I need a clear picture to see how this would work." You don't try to explain to them how it works. You draw a picture on the whiteboard so they can see a clear picture.

Don't say, "I understand how you feel. I feel we can get a firm grasp on the situation if we get hold of the data we can dig out of this."  If you are not sure what I am referring to here, then look at Clientize. Clientize helps you gain the perspective of the client--the specific individuals you are dealing with. Here's a hint: feel, firm grasp, hold, data, dig.

Why is this important? Because you want to speak the client's language to gain and provide quick understanding. If you don't you are going to make the client feel like you are walking up the down escalator at Macy's the say before Christmas.

Grab a Mirror and Check Your Attitude
More important, maybe you'll find that it isn't your clients that are difficult to deal with after all. Perhaps it is the image in the mirror and the attitude you reflect to your clients and the staff supporting your clients.

Clientize--Why Clients Buy From Exceptional Professionals
Want to win clients and keep them for life? Find out what exceptional professional do in the study of clients and how professionals make the difference in creating lifelong clients.

Buy the book on Amazon right now. Click this link to Clientize.

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