I know You. You are a frustrated Service Provider who believes you’re offering great customer service to your clients.
Yet your clients appear to be ungrateful, demanding and cheap. They want to squeeze every last cent worth of work out of you…if you get the job at all. On any given day, they don’t know what the hell they want!
It it possible that you could be wrong about your clients? Could you be trapped by your beliefs about marketing and customer service? And more importantly, could you be getting in your own way of earning the money you could because of your poor customer service?
To help answer these questions, let’s take a look at customer service.
A brief look at great customer service
Any simple definition of customer service will tell you that it’s the support you offer your customers, potential and existing, that helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you.
For me, GREAT customer service is how you bring customers back again and again. It’s the lifeblood of your business. It’s how you unlock more of the revenue you really set up your business to earn.
Great Customer requires both frontend and backend action by you, the business owner. Most small businesses get the frontend right but you fall down on the backend.
At the backend, you need a collection of integrated systems & processes that support what you promise on the frontend. For example, if you promise that all customer issues will be resolved in 24 hours, then you need a backend system that delivers on this.
That’s why at ITDS, we are reluctant to just train your frontend personnel without working on your customer service systems and processes. We prefer to combine the 2 and offer you what we call our Customer Service Intervention (CSI).
So we already know what you think of the clients. Now let’s see who your potential and ideal clients really are.
A quick description of your ideal client
Your clients/customers are not “ungrateful, demanding and cheap”.
As a matter of fact, they are as hardworking as you are and it’s obvious they love their businesses. They put money in their budgets for personal development and business growth. Just like you, they want to hire the right people, reward their employees and build great teams.
However, they want the services and products they buy from you to be supported by really great customer service.
They want you to have strong personal and business values and build relationships with them on a strong foundation of trust. They want you to operate your business in a flexible manner with systems that solves their problems quickly and easily. Above all, they want you to communicate in a straightforward manner that they can understand.
Isn’t that what you would want from them if the shoe was on the other foot?
7 ways to deliver great customer service your clients want
To help you out, I asked my clients, participants from my business training, some interesting strangers and some of my friends:
what is the “great customer service” you want most, when you are buying services from a service provider?
In the process, I found 7 key “customer service” things that your clients really want you to do when you serve them. And if you can give them what they want, you can really unlock much of more of your revenue in the process.
So here they are in no particular order.
1. Treat your clients with respect
Translated into great customer service, this means that first of all, you understand business etiquette.
Understand that your clients are as busy as you are, so show up on time for your appointments. In addition, you must be able to answer questions about your services, products and your business, quickly and comprehensively.
Furthermore, when they call you, answer your phone and have enough credit on it so that you can have a conversation. Oh! And when you are having a meeting with them, turn off that phone!
Yeah…Great customer service is your job.
2. Know what your potential client wants from your conversations
One of the issues which came up pretty often in my discussion was that of poor conversation or communication skills by too many service providers.
The best way to make this point effectively is to share the words of one of my trainees whom I will call “Bob”:
I hate to admit it Lorna but I’m selfish and self-centred, when it comes to spending my hard-earned money for services.
So when service providers come to talk to me, remember I’m not interested in your qualifications and what a wonderful person you are.
Neither do I care to hear about your fabulous products, wonderful service, special awards and newspaper coverage, as single events.
What I want to hear from you, is how you can use any combination of these, to give me the solutions, benefits and increased revenue I am looking for.
Not everyone is as outspoken and frank as Bob but most potential clients has some version of his requests as their requirements for great customer service.
Therefore, be sure to do some research on the client BEFORE you meet with them, so you can talk to them in a way that has meaning for them.
3. Market to your potential client in a way they understand
This should be obvious to service providers – and I really believe it is. What is harder, is how to do it.
I am no marketing expert but here is my commonsense approach to what makes for great customer service, even as you are looking for clients.
In your niche, you should have some idea of your ideal customers – their wants, needs, problems, etc.
Then your “story” must position you as the solution to their needs, wants, and problems. And it must be convincing and compelling. They want your websites, brochures, sales letters and conversations to address these too.
A big mistake small service providers make, is to get a testimonial from a high-profile personality, and believe this is so cool. But this can work against you if your target customers are not high-profile celebrities. If they are teachers, for example, you run the risk of turning them off.
They also want you to persuade them that you are different from the competition – and not in a canned, sales training manner. They want to hear your enthusiasm and feel your passion.
How else will they be motivated to buy from you?
4. Show that you have the confidence and expertise your clients want
There is something that some Service Providers do that really annoys me. And now I know that it has the same effect on their clients as well.
They charge clients big money. Okay. Then they give them a shopping list of suggestions of things they should try, to fix the problem. When I challenged one such consultant about this, the person replied “the only thing that is sure is death and taxes.”
The client already has a good idea what might or might not work. What they want and deserve, is a solution that WILL WORK, once they follow the steps in that solution, and put in the work.
Great customer service for your clients happens when you confidently create solutions, based on your expertise, which they can implement.
So give them something strong and concrete to help them believe in your ability to serve them.
Here’s a list that can help you;
1. Allow them to sample your work
2. Tell them who your customers are
3. Share your best success stories
4. Share testimonials
5. Offer to let them speak with satisfied customers
6. Give them case studies from real customers
7. But don’t short change them!
5. Help your potential clients to make the next step
According to potential clients, they love it when you help them to make the buying decision.
As a matter of fact, when service providers don’t do this, potential clients believe “you ain’t ready yet!” and look to give their business to a competitor whom they believe to be ready.
So give them a reason to act. Give them a deadline to respond to, a bonus if they take action within a specified time, give them something to consider before becoming your client.
But whatever you give them, make it something they value and make sure it complements your product or service.
Giving your potential clients a reason to act can make the difference between their remaining “potential” and becoming “actual”.
6. Don’t “burn” your clients and call it great customer service
Here’s what I’m talking about.
You do a great job convincing the client to buy from you. They give you the required deposit and… you disappear!
Come on! How is that for great customer service? How’s that for being professional?
I know you’re human and you will have challenges but you chose to be in business…in your business, your client didn’t ask you to be.
When you “burn” them, two things happen. You dry up your own income stream and you force them to blacklist you.
Each person you do business with becomes an influencer in your life and your business. This can increase your income by 7 – 10 times the value of what they spend with you.
The moment you “burn” them, if they are professionals, they can no longer recommend you and this source of potential revenue dries up. If you don’t get this right, you can forget about doing business.
7. Plan to keep your clients for life – it’s great customer service!
Even before you get a client, you should have a plan to keep them for life.
As a matter of fact, if you get numbers 1 – 6 above right, your new clients will be excited to be working with you. They unwritten request will be:
Now that I’m your client, tell me how you will keep me for life.
My question to you is: How will you be keeping this marriage going?
Will you be sending them newsletters or tips on your website? Will you be inviting them to free workshops?
Or will you be having an affair before the honeymoon is over?
Take care of your clients and they’ll be your client for life. During that “life” they will spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars with you.
They will willingly refer you to new clients and they’ll endorse your business and offerings whenever you ask.
Your next “great customer service” step…
So there you have them, Service Providers, 7 “great customer service” ways you can unlock your revenue and grow your business.
What I want you to do now, is really understand them and reflect on them.
If you are already taking this approach…congratulations.
If you’re not, start working on them, starting at #1. Don’t rush, build on them step by step. Not only will you make more money, you will grow in confidence and increase your self-esteem.
How do I know they will work?
Great customer service is what we do over at Impact Training & Development Services (ITDS). Our repeat customer ratio is very high and most of our new business comes from our existing clients.
So I encourage you to unlock your revenue with great customer service!