By Mark Creedon
3 Simple tips for great service standards
Let’s talk about client service.
There are lots of courses and information available out there talking about the importance of key performance indicators in client service delivery and world’s best practise.
Each of these courses and theories have something positive and the most recent research suggests that consumers are listing client service as a very high priority when considering who to give their business to.
In many ways, the great difficulty for us, as business owners, is to determine which of those client service principles best matches our business.
There are experts in client service standards for a range of industries and what we have to try and do is work out which best matches the industry we are in.
I came across an interesting solution to that very dilemma one afternoon when listening to ABC radio.
When I was young, I remember driving with my father in his car and he would have ABC radio on and I would ask him to change the station to which he would very politely tell me that it was the ABC radio he was choosing to listen to and when I was old enough to have my own car and therefore my own radio, that that would be when I could choose what station I was going to listen to.
The great irony I guess lies in the fact that if we now fast forward to some 40 odd years later, I now have my own car, my own radio, and yet I often choose to listen to the ABC.
Anyway, here I was listening to the ABC radio and there was a very interesting interview with the curator of the NSW Art Gallery.
One thing that the curator had to say which I found to be very enlightening and which I found very easily applicable to business was in relation to the experience of the visitor.
In many ways the curator was quite clever in realising that the visitor to the art gallery is really no different to the clients of a business.
Our clients are in fact visitors to our business and whether or not the curator realised it at the time (and I have a strong suspicion that he did), he was really applying very good marketing principles to the manner in which he operated the NSW gallery.
Here is what he said, he spoke about the experience of a visit to the gallery and what it was that he wanted visitors to take away from each visit, what he wanted visitors to experience.
He very quickly identified three simple yet great factors in the service delivery standards at the art gallery.
He said that each visitor to the art gallery needed to go away with three things.
Three simple things that each visitor could leave with and if he had achieved those three things then he considered his operation of the art gallery to be a success.
I took some time to think about those three things and applied them to the operation of my business and wanted to show you how you could apply them to your business.
Those three things were:
- A wonderful experience.
- Something tangible.
- A burning desire to return.
In order to achieve those three incredibly simple but wonderfully insightful things the curator broke down the service process of the gallery and we can apply those principles to the everyday service of our clients as well.
Let’s look at them individually.
A Wonderful Experience
The curator wanted every visitor to the art gallery to achieve something as simple as enjoying themselves.
By enjoying themselves, it was an experience they had encountered.
In business, unless we are in a business where we operate in some form of monopoly, then we want to be able to have our clients experience something unique and memorable.
We want our clients to experience something that sets us apart from our competition.
So, the first point is a memorable experience.
The second point was to take away something tangible.
Now in the case of the art gallery that was about going to the art gallery shop and buying something.
In the case of our business this can be related to the client buying something from us, so they come to our business, they get a truly memorable experience, an experience which sets us apart from our competitors and makes the client feel special.
The second point is that they walk away with something tangible whether it is a product or a service (depending on which industry you are in) but something that they have made a decision to take away with them and that they have paid you for.
After all it’s great to make a memorable experience, it’s great to have satisfied clients, it’s great to have clients as friends but if they are not also buying something from us then it’s going to make it hard to pay the team each week.
So, the second thing that we want to achieve is something tangible – you want the client to walk away with something which they have purchased or which you have given them as a part of their purchase from you.
A Burning Desire to Return
Now, this is how business grows.
Yes, we can have a great experience with a client, yes the client can pay for a service but if the client doesn’t return and doesn’t have a burning desire to return then what we are operating is a crash and burn business.
Now I know some very successful businesses that operate exactly on that basis.
The difficulty with that is that you have to have an almost limitless supply of leads or clients because if you are going to crash and burn every client that comes to you, you have to make sure that there is another one to replace that one each and every time and in most cases that supply will eventually run out and quickly too.
So we are left with the task of creating the very strong desire for the client to return and of course it is important to keep in mind a desire to return will also most likely lead to a desire to refer and again that is one of the elements of business growth.
The obvious question then is how do we create the burning desire to return? This involves having a look at what the product is and this is a common point of misconception for many business owners.
They take the view that the product is the physical thing that they are selling, it is rare that this is the case.
Even in the purest retail marketing sense such as the grocery store selling a box of breakfast cereal, but rarely is the product the actual box of breakfast cereal.
Perhaps one of the most striking examples of that theory lies in the dominance of the supermarket industry of one supermarket over another.
Both supermarkets will stock the same or similar products and both supermarkets will use the same or similar marketing techniques and both supermarkets will have the same or similar pricing structures.
What sets the supermarkets apart however is the desire on the part of the consumer to return to that supermarket as a result of the experience they’ve had whilst shopping there in the first place.
In many ways although this is a third component it almost completes the circle back to the experience component that we first spoke about.
Through providing a great experience, the client will develop that burning desire to return and that in turn will promote sales growth and market dominance.
The burning desire to return therefore comes from not just creating experience but actually facilitating a process that makes the client feel special because even in the most transactional of dealings in business there remains the ability to make the client feel special and that in itself will create that desire to return on the part of the client.
Like all relationships and communication processes however the relationship between client and business is a two way process.
So the delivery of a certain level of service and meeting these criteria that we have discussed earlier for a client makes them feel special.
The other thing it does however, is it makes the business operator or team member feel special about what they’re doing and have pride in what they’re doing.
One of the greatest lessons that I ever learnt in that process was to visit a supported working environment.
I had the privilege of visiting a supported workplace which employed persons with Downs Syndrome.
They were involved in very simple and what some of us would consider mundane work but what struck me was the pride that they had in what they were doing.
They carried with them an enormous sense of pride in every aspect of the job that they were performing so at the end of the day with that business, the consumer was getting a good product so that their needs and expectations were being met and so too were the needs and expectations of the worker.
The service industries are called that for a reason.
It’s because the focus is on service and if we can take the opportunity to provide great service and enjoy the provision of that great service then the two way relationship and communication process works at maximum potential.
In that way, the client gets the best possible service and those delivering that product and service get the best possible satisfaction out of what they do.
In summary we can see how those three very simple truths of client service work hand-in-hand to create an opportunity for business growth and development.
So, develop as part of your business and marketing plan:
- An experience for your clients.
- Something tangible that they can pay for and take away with them.
- A burning desire to return.
Also do some research on your ideal client and develop ways that you can deliver consistently on each of these.
Then you will have met the criteria for certain business growth.
Mark Creedon is the founder of Business Accelerator mastermind by Metropole and business coach to some of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs – helping them build a true business, not a job.
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