Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.
Backing it Up | Extraordinary Business
One of the world’s largest telecom agencies has the habit of boasting about how big they are, how fast they are and that sort of thing. They tend to buy up competition and technology at what seems to be an alarming rate and have been given leeway to dominate the marketplace. Interestingly, despite its boasts, it still has one of the highest consumer dissatisfaction rates in the world. You have to ask yourself: how successful could the company be if they put more effort into lowering the customer service?
What if we ran our companies that way? What if customer service was something that simply sits on the back burner – something we need to do something about some day? What if we just threw money or fancy gadgets at it? Do you think the problem would go away? Do you think we would create raving fans? Would we spend more time and money getting new clients or retaining old ones? Which costs more?
As leaders of smaller businesses (as in not multi-billion dollar firms) we do tend to recognize that simply due to the volume or work and business, we probably won’t be able to please every customer every time. Someone will be upset about price, someone else about level of service or customization, etc. However, there is no reason that 98% of our clients can not be extremely pleased with what we are offering, from the initial contact until the sale or engagement is completed.
The process of managing your clients’ expectation and needs is similar to managing a supply chain or any other system in your organization. Here are six steps you will want to pay attention to as you plan your customer experience chain.
- Decide what the outcome of any customer engagement should be. Yes – we want to have raving fans. We want them to tell their friends and colleagues how great their experience was. We want them to come back again.
- What level of service is necessary to ensure that they are all raving fans? Well, some customers are going to want to speak to you at specific intervals – not too often, but not too infrequently. Others are going to want us to make sure that the product they are purchasing from us is always in stock when they come to get it.
- What will it take to establish that level of trust? Well, that starts from the onset. From the first meeting or conversation you have with that client, you are laying tracks of trust or distrust. As you continue building the relationship, there will be certain transition points as this potential client or customer gets closer to the sale. Note those points!
- Identify, evaluate and leverage the interaction at transition points. The transition points are the customer decision points where they are deciding whether or not to trust you and whether or not to do business with you. Make sure that you have specific expectations and measureable results at each transition point.
- Back it up. Everything you say, you recommend – back it up. If you brag about having the largest network or the best service or can reach a great percentage of where your primary target market is, make sure that your customers feel the same way, too. If something breaks, make every effort to fix it…quickly!
- Re-evaluate. Set it and forget it might work for some things, but it never works for consumer interactions. Expectations will change. Expect it and do something about it. Use preventative tactics if at all possible. Firms that can anticipate the needs of their present and future clients are those that are extraordinary.
Oops! Not done, yet! Just because there is money in the bank doesn’t mean that the deal is closed. We want two things: 1) raving fans and 2) repeat business. If we spend 80% of our time serving and retaining our current clients, we will find that our sales efforts are more effective. That means that doing a good job isn’t a one-time deal. It is a way of doing business.
As business leaders, we always have the choice of being self employed or growing an extraordinary business. Our clients are the life-blood of every business. We’ve got to back up everything that we say and do.
Take the extra step. Go the extra mile. Stand out from the crowd. Build an extraordinary business.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses. We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services. As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions. If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].