One of the things that makes some organizations such amazing places to work is the extent to which they seek to engage their clients in a professional, informed, and knowledgeable way. In these places, the depth of knowledge, insight, and competence is on display as part of the client experience, day in and day out. These organizations really live out the idea of, “How Pro Can You Go?”
One area that always needs to move in alignment with the concept of “How Pro Can You Go?” is customer service. If our product knowledge or technical competence vastly exceeds our level of people service, we will have a problem. A high level of competence and technical knowledge creates an expectation of excellence from our customers, and if we do not deliver, down to the smallest details of the customer experience, we may lose a client for good.
Creating an amazing customer experience is the lifeblood of any business. We can offer solutions to our clients and do promotions and social media campaigns, and even slash prices to bring in new customers, but unless we can get some of those customers to come back, our business won’t grow into profitability.
[quote float=”right”]Creating an amazing customer experience is the lifeblood of any business. [/quote]
Creating an amazing customer experience is all about bringing clients back. And it’s about sending them away happy – happy enough to pass positive feedback about our business along to others, who may then try the products or services we offer for themselves. In turn, they become repeat customers. In the Internet age, this has never been more important. If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. But, if you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.
If you’re a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it will be your approach to creating an amazing customer experience that determines whether or not you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else. The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers – a relationship that the individual customer feels that he would like to pursue.
We have all been in places where we’ve had a great customer experience. These businesses have decided that, when it comes to customer service, their focus will be “How Pro Can You Go?”. So, from a customer experience standpoint, here are a few thoughts around “How Pro Can You Go?”…
The Customer Experience: “How Pro Can You Go?”
1) Visualize & Imagine
Each day, on your way to seeing your clients and prospective clients, take a few moments to visualize the kind of customer experience you want to offer. Paint a picture in your mind’s eye of the type of quality customer experience you want the people who deal with you to enjoy. Do you want them to remember you as disinterested, lacking passion and engagement for your role? Or do you want our clients to see you at your best, caring, engaged, and passionate about your work as a professional?
[quote float=”left”]The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.
– Sam Walton[/quote] Back in the day, when I was working in retail, I once had a chance to watch myself interacting with customers on video, because I was with our Loss Prevention Team looking at possible shoplifting. As I saw myself interacting with the customers, I realized that though I was competent and professional, I was not offering them the level of customer service that I thought. I looked bored and in that moment, realized I needed to make a shift in my thinking and actions so that their customer experience would be memorable.
I am suggesting that we do what Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart said: “The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.” Each day, visualize yourself delivering a legendary customer experience!
2) Connect & Engage
[quote float=”right”]Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.
– Tony Alessandra[/quote] Connecting with your customer is absolutely crucial. In coaching, as in most businesses, our customers connect with us through 3 primary methods. They meet us face to face, they phone us, and they use the internet through email or our website. It is critical that we excel at connecting and engaging with our clients in these 3 entry points. We don’t just want to be competent or as good as other coaches. Excellence is our goal! Tony Alessandra said it this way: “Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.” Here are crucial keys when it comes to connecting and engaging our customers, either when you meet them in your office, Starbucks, or encounter prospective clients in any venue:
- Joyfully Acknowledge People, Learn Their Name, and Remember It!
- Get Off Your Chair! Body language speaks louder than words, and so when we stand up to greet our customers we are sending a warm and welcoming message.
- Answer Your Phone – Study after study has shown that effective businesses simply answer their phones quickly and cheerfully. When customers call, they deserve a cheerful, professional, and prompt response.
- Reply To Email – Email is the primary method of communication for many of our customers. Respond quickly and use links to give information-rich replies. They will appreciate your care and depth.
3) Listen Well & Respond With Solutions
The art of listening sets coaches apart from many other solution providers. Rather than forcing a certain solution or product or service on our clients, we take time to listen to their situation and respond accordingly. I love the fact that coaches are often complimented on their high level of knowledge, which then leads to effective solutions. Responding with real-world solutions is crucial, considering many of our clients may manage their health, relationships, finances and careers based on our guidance.
[quote float=”right”]The art of listening sets coaches apart from many other solution providers.
In 1991 the United States Department of Labor Secretary’s Commission in Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) identified five competencies and three foundation skills that are essential for those entering the workforce. Listening skills were among the foundation skills SCANS identified (http://www.academicinnovations.com/report.html). In other words, some coaches struggle to be successful and productive because they lack the foundation skill of listening. It is a skill we can learn. The following tips will help you listen well. Doing these things will also demonstrate to the customer that you pay attention. While you may in fact be able to listen while looking down at the floor, doing so may imply that you are not in fact listening. Instead, try keeping the following tips in mind:
- maintain eye contact and nod your head;
- don’t interrupt the speaker;
- sit still, i.e. don’t fidget too much;
- lean toward the speaker;
- repeat instructions and ask appropriate questions when the speaker has finished;
- offer solutions and options appropriate to the expressed need or situation
A good listener knows that being attentive to what the speaker doesn’t say is as important as being attentive to what he does say. Look for non-verbal cues get the full gist of what the speaker is sharing. Listening well and responding with appropriate solutions is key to a great customer experience.
4) Educate & Enhance
We’ve all been there. The customer has shared their situation. We’ve partnered with them and provided a cost-effective, one-session, specific solution, which will meet their needs and take their life or relationship or business to the next level. We feel so happy about getting the sale that we don’t want to ask the customer for any more. But it’s the more that the customer needs, and it’s the more that drives profit: Long-Term Coaching Contracts. Training Programs. Product Offerings. Coaching Packages.
[quote float=”left”]As coaches, we don’t just sell products, we sell solutions.
[/quote] But, for the more to be of value to the customer, we need to educate them. We need to skilfully weave the concept of “How Pro Can You Go?” into the conversation and show our clients about how our expertise can support their growth and progress. We need to share how signing up for 6 or 12 months is better than one session for their growth and development. How purchasing our program on Healthy Relationships or Entrepreneurship or Wellness or Breaking Free of Fear is much better than a few “one-off” sessions. How long-term problems emerge in our life or business over a long time, and only time and educated effort will provide sustainable solutions. We need to enhance our clients’ experience by sharing how the purchase of a product, program, or long-term coaching relationship can take them to the next level.
As coaches, we don’t just sell products, we sell solutions. This comes as we educate our customers and thus enhance their experience with us.
5) Exceed & Surprise
[quote float=”right”]Here is a simple but powerful rule – always give people more than what they expect to get.
– Nelson Boswell[/quote] Nelson Boswell said this: “Here is a simple but powerful rule – always give people more than what they expect to get.” This is so true! The art of exceeding expectations goes far beyond offering a free e-book or webinar. It is caught up in the little things: remembering peoples’ names and small details about them and their work. Taking time to look at their work and celebrate their progress. Here are a few suggestions:
- Build a customer database using MS Office 365, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Infusionsoft, etc.
- Use the “Activities” or “Details” tab in your Outlook Contact list or database solution. This can help you log important interactions with your customers, and important details;
- Send your customer a thank you card every so often;
- Follow up with support calls, texts or emails, especially when you know your client is a little challenged;
- Invite clients to seminars or workshops or blogs that might stoke their areas of passion;
- Set up reminders in your Outlook calendar to help you follow up on your customers;
- Never lose “the care”
One thing that I have always tried to keep in mind, as difficult as dealing with clients can be, is simply that if we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will. In today’s competitive economy, this is so true! No matter how solid our knowledge base, always grow the passion to serve customers. Creating an amazing customer experience is our goal and our aim, every day. This will ensure you are well paid, and make a lot of friends along the way!