Our prospects need to differentiate between a huge number of offerings. How do they know to choose us? For small businesses it is often going to be through recommendation; referrals. How do we get those referrals? It can only be by delivering great service and by perceived as being that bit better than the rest. We need to give our customers a nice warm feeling inside.
The wrong way
Recently there has been a very amusing thread on an accountancy forum where the querist has apparently been reluctant to pick up the clients’ books and records or to deliver them back. He thinks it is an expensive exercise to do that and wants to charge the clients for doing it.
What a strange attitude! Surely a client would look forward to a visit? It would make her or him feel that they matter to the accountant and that the accountant is interested in them. They may have questions they wish to ask.
At the same time the accountant will gain more background to the business that may be relevant in understanding the client and preparing the accounts. There may be an opportunity to sell more services. If the client has that nice warm feeling they will be happy to pay for a good service. If they just get their accounts prepared on a production line they will get price sensitive and shop around for the cheapest option. Alternatively they will go to someone else who will give them that nice warm feeling. We need to have a relationship with those who matter to our businesses, and they are the people who provide our income.
Of course no matter what we do, things may go wrong, but it is how we then deal with them that makes all the difference. Accidents will happen. We may have to swallow our pride or suppress our emotions.
Play the ball, not the person
I do a little customer service work for one of my clients. Recently they had a complaint from a customer about something which had gone wrong, and really it was one of those accidents. My client could not have prevented it but it was within our power to fix it. By “our” I mean as in my client and me acting on my client’s behalf.
The strange thing was that I had been on the wrong end of some very bad customer service meted out by this individual on behalf of her large corporate employer. Nevertheless I was “all sweetness and light” and dealt with the problem. I wrote to her and advised her. I asked her to let me know if there was anything else I could do. She did not thank me or even reply, but I guess that was no surprise. We do have to stay professional and keep our emotions out of it.
What we do for our customers and clients should give them a warm and fuzzy feeling and give them reason to recommend us. The value of what we provide is our USP, isn’t it?