Showing posts with label Customer Service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Customer Service. Show all posts

Thursday, May 5, 2016

3 Ways to Keep Clients for DECADES

Success in business depends on getting new customers. That’s obvious. But what’s not so obvious is what it takes to create relationships that are so strong your clients want to continue working with you for years

What if you delivered such profound service to your clients that one of them said something like this?

I received this testimonial from one of our resellers more than 10 years ago, and I cherish it to this day. In fact, we still work with Bud, and he continues to sing our praises to others.

We’re not perfect, of course. Even though I have emails, cards and messages from other clients who’ve worked with us for 20+ years, we don’t get it right 100% of the time.

But there are a few things we’ve done very well.

At the core…These actions are more about your way of BEING with people, not implementing a set of tactics. The common theme is SERVICE.

1. Make your initial conversations about the other person.

Whether it’s a phone call, Skype call or in-person meeting, prepare by asking yourself this question:

When you’re centered on that question, you’ll be able to feel relaxed and calm during the conversation. You won’t be waiting for your turn to speak so you can launch into the benefits of your product or service.

There won’t be any pressure on you to perform a certain way…or on the other person to buy something.

The purpose is NOT: How can I make a positive IMPRESSION?

Instead, it’s:
What can I CONTRIBUTE that would have a positive IMPACT?
How can I help them achieve a real BREAKTHROUGH in their thinking or their results?

After that initial conversation, find reasons to stay in touch and continue serving them. As one of my favorite authors, Steve Chandler likes to say, look for ways to ASTONISH them.

  • Recommend a book or podcast that helps them solve a problem. 
  • Introduce them to someone who can help them reach their goals. 
  • Send unexpected gifts or hand-written notes and cards. 

Take this approach and you will stand out. You’ll be memorable.

2. After they buy, make them feel valued – THANK and ASK.

Even though this happened several years ago, I’ll never forget the day I decided to invest in Ari Galper’s Unlock the Game sales course. Within 10 minutes of my clicking the Buy button on his website, my phone rang. It was Ari, calling to thank me for purchasing his course and assure me that I’d made a wise investment.

I’ve followed Ari’s model with our own clients, with great results. When people buy software, they’re often concerned that they’ll have challenges learning to use the product or will have trouble reaching a knowledgeable, responsive person when they need technical support.

Right after someone orders our software, I call and thank them for choosing us. And I promise them that we’re here to make sure they have a FANTASTIC experience using our program and working with us. That sets a positive tone right from the start.

As they use your product or service, be sure to ASK for their feedback and ideas – in a phone call or survey - to find out how you’re doing and get the information you need to make positive changes.

Here are 3 simple questions:

  1. What do you like best about doing business with us?
  2. What do you NOT like about doing business with us? 
  3. What ONE THING could we do differently that would improve your experience with us?

You’ll be amazed what you learn that can help you deliver better service to all your clients.

3. Be clear about your core values, and live them.

Your values are the principles or beliefs that drive everything.

Ask yourself.
What do we stand for?
What guides our decisions and behavior?
What do we want to be known for?

An even more powerful question that goes to the heart of relationship-building:

“How will our customers feel about themselves because of the way we treat them?”

Here are some of the principles that have guided our decisions and our actions for more than 30 years. These are also words our clients use when they send us unsolicited feedback.

Trust – Tell the truth about what is/is not possible with our software.

Integrity – Do what we say we’ll do and we follow through on commitments.

Fairness – Make decisions with the long-term view in mind, looking at what’s best for all involved. If in doubt, err on the side of making the client delighted with the outcome.

Responsive – Respond to phone calls and emails promptly. Resolve issues quickly.

Responsible – Readily acknowledge when we make mistakes, apologize and do everything we can to make it right. No excuses.

Flexible – Make exceptions or try something new to meet the needs of a specific client. We’re not bound by rigid rules or a bureaucracy.

Think of the clarity you’ll have when you create your own list of the values you want everyone in your company to adopt and live by.

Want more ideas?

Listen to this replay of my interview with Denise Griffitts on her radio show, “Your Partner In Success,” where she and I had discussed this same topic for a full hour!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

How to Make Someone Feel Special…or Not

This year my primary care physician got promoted to an administrative position, so I needed to find a new doctor.

I decided to go to a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) due to what I’d read about their approach to treating patients: “DOs combine today's medical technology with their ears to listen caringly to their patients, with their eyes to see their patients as whole persons, and with their hands to diagnose and treat patients for injury and illness.” (from American Osteopathic Association website)

Unfortunately, I did not choose well, and I will not be going back to this DO for future check-ups.

What “Doctor Smith” did and did not do is instructive for all of us.

When meeting someone for the first time – whether in your business or personal life – there are simple actions you can take to make a strong, positive first impression. And there are other behaviors that really turn off the other person and make it difficult to get the relationship off the ground.

Here are 5 things Doctor Smith did that convinced me I did not want to return.

1. He did not introduce himself.

The exam began with the nurse asking me questions about my medical history and entering my responses into their computer system. When Doctor Smith entered the room afterwards, the nurse left and he went straight to the computer and started reviewing what was on the screen.

He didn’t look at me, say hello, state his name or confirm who I was. I had to assume he was my new doctor.

Lesson: It’s so basic! When you first meet someone, a warm handshake accompanied by a friendly greeting help put the person at ease.

2. He never had direct eye contact with me. 

During the entire time I was there, Dr. Smith looked mostly at the computer screen. A few times he glanced over my way but not once connected with my eyes. He couldn’t have described me to someone if he’d been required to do so.

Lesson: When someone is trying to have a conversation with you, have the courtesy to give your full attention and look at them as they’re speaking.

3. He interrupted me.

While he was looking at my lipid profile, I started to talk about the fact that I was concerned about my HDL number being low and I’d changed my diet in an effort to raise it. Before I could finish my sentence, he jumped in and said that modifying my diet wouldn’t do any good and that my number was just fine.

A few other times he cut me off as I was attempting to say something. I finally gave up.

Lesson: If people are trying to tell you something – let them finish! Even though you may think you know where they’re going, or you wish they’d get to the point faster, it’s important to let them express their complete thought before you jump in.

4. He did not ask questions.

Dr. Smith didn’t attempt to learn anything about me – either personally or professionally. I got the distinct feeling that he was just running through a drill, checking off all the requirements to cover for an initial visit.

Lesson: If you really want to connect with someone, ask open-ended questions that reflect a genuine interest in learning more about their interests and their life. Most people prefer to talk about themselves, so you will stand out when you focus on listening more than talking.

5. He corrected me.

At one point as Dr. Smith was reviewing my blood work from the previous year (looking at the computer monitor, of course), he commented that it all looked good. I said I was surprised he had that report in his records since I had the blood drawn at a different healthcare system. In fact, I’d brought a hard copy to give him because I’d assumed he wouldn't have access to it.

He said I must be wrong about where I had my blood work done, that I must have come to his medical building. I replied that I had never stepped into that building before this day and I clearly recalled where I had gone. He continued to insist I must have forgotten.

Lesson: Give up the need to convince people that you’re right. No one likes to be told they’re wrong, and it’s especially annoying if the other person knows you are the one who’s mistaken. Be gracious and acknowledge, “You could be right.”

What I’d hoped would be a positive experience with a new physician turned into a huge disappointment.

It didn't have to be that way.

It served as an important reminder that each time we interact with another human being, we have the opportunity to make that person feel valued…or overlooked.

You have that choice every day with every person you encounter.

"We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee." - Marian Wright Edelmen, American activist (1939- )

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Hair Stylist with More than Technical Skills

I found myself procrastinating.

I needed to get my hair cut but I delayed making the appointment because it took 40 minutes to drive to the salon where my hairdresser worked.

I was complaining to a neighbor about the situation, and she immediately recommended a young woman whose salon was just 10 minutes away. As soon as I walked in the door of my house, I called Catherine and made an appointment.

She gave me a great hair cut. In fact, my husband said it was the best cut I'd had in years.

But she wasn't just a skilled stylist.

What set Catherine apart is the experience I had. It started when she greeted me with a big smile and called me by name when I walked in the door.

The entire time I was sitting in her chair, she demonstrated a genuine curiosity about my life, my work and my outside interests.

Typically, when I meet someone new, I’m the one asking questions and probing to learn more about what makes the person tick.

Not this time.

Catherine reversed the tables on me, and I found it fascinating to be aware of what was happening while it was happening.

Each time I answered a question, she showed that she’d been listening because of the follow-up questions she would ask. The conversation followed a comfortable, natural flow. It never felt forced or strained.

While she clearly cared about giving me a quality hair cut, she was also focused on establishing a relationship.

During the moments when the dryer made conditions too noisy for a conversation, I found myself contrasting this experience with a hairdresser I went to more than 20 years ago.

I’ll never forget why I quit going to her after the second visit.

She didn't remember my name or even that I'd been there before. And she was distracted the entire time I was there. Everything about her attitude and actions conveyed that I didn't matter.

At the end of that session, I knew I would never go back, even though her hair-cutting skills were excellent.

When Catherine was finished, on the other hand, I was absolutely delighted. My hair looked great and I felt wonderful. She had made me feel special.

The result was not just a happy customer who will keep going back. She now has an advocate who will make a concerted effort to refer others to her whenever possible.

Just as my neighbor did with me.

Too often we’re so wrapped up in our own thoughts, problems, and upcoming events that we barely notice the people around us.

Catherine reminded me of the intangible payoffs that come when you are fully present with another human being and sincerely focus on understanding who that person is.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” - Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Excellence In a Car Repair Shop

What words come to mind when you hear “car repair shop?”

Shoddy work? Rip-off? Shady owner?

None of those descriptions apply to the place I go.

We’ve been taking our cars to the same auto repair shop for more than 20 years. That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? The first time we walked into Custom Car Care, my husband – who is very picky when it comes to car maintenance - was immediately impressed because the place was clean and organized.

We quickly learned that the owner had high standards and was someone we could trust. The technicians know what they’re doing, and I don’t find dirt or grime in my car when I pick it up. Even though it’s not the cheapest place in town, I wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. Everyone there is dedicated to excellence, and because of that, I recommend this shop to everyone I know.

It takes a lot of work to be the best. You have to set high standards, and you have to live up to them. Sometimes, “good enough” can seem appealing. Why make the extra effort when you’re not sure if anyone cares – or will notice the difference? The rewards for your best work aren’t always obvious, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be better off if you make the extra effort. For all those reasons, many people take the easy way out and just do the minimum.

But you know, there are big payoffs for excellence, both tangible and intangible. You can see the results of high quality, and doing your best feels better than just getting by. When you take pride in what you do, it shows and people will notice. You stand out because mediocre performance is much more common, so you’ll appreciate the recognition you get because of your efforts. And you know what else? When you’re doing something as well as you can, your life is more meaningful. You enjoy it more.

That’s the approach we’ve taken for the past 25 years here at PSS. It’s extremely gratifying to receive unsolicited emails and phone calls from customers who rave about the quality of our product and our technical support. Many of them have worked with us for almost 20 years!

An example of an email that came in recently to our technical support team:

“I just want to thank you again for all the help you provided on this employee satisfaction project. The feedback from the execs has been outstanding. They were very impressed with the 20/20 Insight assessment tool and the wealth of usable information we could provide.  

“This could not have happened without you. Your expertise, guidance and creativity from the beginning to set this up, tweak the system, trouble shoot with me and our IT person are immeasurable. You also have a terrific knack in translating the technical to lay language that made it very easy for me to understand and use.

“In other words, I think you are the BEST! I cannot thank you enough. You both have a very calming and reassuring approach.” 

These days, it’s hard to find a small company that’s been in business 25 years and has consistently delivered excellence. We’re proud to be one of those companies.

Our products include: ProStar Coach, 20/20 Insight, and Surveys for Small Business. Check them out if you’re looking for first-class assessment and development tools!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." – Aristotle
“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another." - Helen Keller
“Everything we do has our own personal signature on it. So we want to do it as well as we possibly can." - Mike Krzyzewski