I know You. You are a frustrated, small-scale 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!
And what about YOU? Don't I know you, too?
But there’s a gap, a big gap between what you, the potential or existing client is craving and what the service provider delivers as great customer service.
Enter Lorna Barrow, that’s me, the great mediator, the serious “bridger’ of great customer service gaps.
My mission, which I accepted, was to look at this eternal problem from the perspective of the clients, potential and existing, to find out what great customer service means to them.
So I asked my clients, participants from my business training, some interesting strangers and some of my friends, what is “the great customer service” they want most, when they are buying services from a small-scale service provider.
Service Providers, I found out 7 key things that your clients really want 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 are those keys to unlocking more of your revenue with great customer service:
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 had 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. 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 are the steps to follow to implement a solution that WILL 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.
Allow them to sample your work, tell them who your customers are, share your best success stories, share testimonials, offer to let them speak with satisfied customers, give them case studies from real customers. 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 stop before you’re finished delivering great customer service
Can you really stop before you’re finished? Yes, you can!
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” things you must do to 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!