Posted on February 11th, 2014 in News

iStock_000021359906_Medium5Delivering world class customer service if done properly increases revenue and decreases costs. Unfortunately many businesses owners think they can fool clients by paying lip service to the concept of service. However as people travel more and experience superb 5 star service they will no longer tolerate poor standards – it simply won’t cut the mustard.

So how do you go about delivering a superb experience for your clients? As a Management Consultant & Business Coach I have studied how the most successful companies throughout the world came to understand the huge potential in delivering customer experience in the right way. These industry thought leaders who I have studied include Disney, The Ritz Carlton, Harrods, Nordstrom and Apple.

If you are serious about significantly improving your client experience then see how your business measure up against these standards:

The first thing they do is to put the client at the heart of everything they do. Serving their clients is actually more important than achieving their business goals or profits. They start by looking at what the client needs and then work backwards.

The culture in these companies is about being of service to others – as if they were a guest in your home. Client experience is never a separate unit or department in the business. Everything is geared towards fulfilling the client’s needs – it’s a spirit of hospitality.

Clients are human beings and they need to be treated as people with needs. To put it simply they are Ladies and Gentlemen being served by Ladies and Gentleman. Every client has an invisible sign hanging around their neck which reads “make me feel important”. Psychology teaches us that people are ego centric which means they are most interested in “What’s In It For Me” (they only tuned in to their own station “WII-FM”).

The secret to success in your business is to subjugate your own ego to serve others. The ability to connect with people on a deeper level depends on a power inverse; understanding the other person’s perspective, getting inside their head and seeing the world through their eyes. That is the basis for real empathy – making people feel felt.

Building rapport starts by being likable and attuning yourself to other people’s needs. When we build rapport we open the door to emotional connection. The more connected people feel to you the more comfortable they feel about sharing information with you. Clients can always sense your emotional energy and they pick up on how genuine your intentions are.

Asking good questions is the key to uncovering what’s actually going on in your clients mind. When you are curious about your client’s needs you drive to the core of what they are thinking.  After all what is in your client’s mind is far more important than what you are thinking. The only proven way to ascertain your client’s needs is to them questions and listen to their answers. Successful people ask better questions and as a result they get better answers.

Listening is always the most overlooked skill in communication. We are blessed with two ears and one mouth but somehow we manage to get this ratio the wrong way around. We talk too much and listen too little. The more you listen to another person the more they will trust you. People are always looking for evidence to see if you can be trusted. It’s better to be interested rather than interesting. That how you build trust over time. The secret fast track to building trust with clients is through active listening.

It’s a well known psychological fact that people make decisions emotionally and then justify rationally. People need to like you, feel comfortable with you and then trust you. Decisions to return to your business are based on feelings, needs and emotions. That’s why it’s so important to understand the reasons why they choose your business and want to keeping coming back. Do you know what your client’s emotional hot buttons are and what do they value most in your business?

Business owners are usually terrible about confronting the truth because they prefer not to face the harsh reality about what is not working well. Acknowledging a problem can be very painful because it exposes our vulnerabilities which can be hard on the ego. However if we don’t commit to exposing the problems we can’t start to find the solutions.

Every face to face interaction with your clients is a moment of truth for your business. If there are 20 moments of truth in your business today and just 1 of them is bad, which do you think your customer will remember? That’s why you need to ask real questions to expose the truth about how your client really feels. Listen to your clients because they are always trying to tell you something if they can trust you enough to listen. We simply can’t improve our business unless we seek moments of truth.

The front line is your bottom line. The employees in your front of house are are possibly the people that that your client interacts most with. That’s why you have to treat your employees just like your clients. Client satisfaction and employee recognition are mutually connected. There is nothing more important for your business than hiring the right team. You want people with personalities to fit your culture of caring and helping others. Personality is the key – I am a great believer in the maxim of “hire character and train skill.”

There are many types of clients but only one type of service – outstanding. Make no excuse for setting the highest standards and expectations for your team. Pay attention to every aspect of your client journey so that your people can deliver exceptional service at every touching point.

In summary here are some of my key principles which sum up how your people can interact with your valued clients and deliver a great experience:

  • A warm and sincere greeting, using the clients name
  • Recognise that each client has different needs, so your goal is to anticipate and personalise your service to exceed their expectations
  • Be responsive to their expressed and unexpressed wishes
  • Build a long term personal relationships by creating a unique and memorable experience
  • Give a fond farewell with a warm goodbye, using the clients name and a genuine invitation to return

And here is a final take away on why your clients experience is the key to your business success.

“Pay attention to your competitors but obsess about your clients.”