Have you ever had a meeting with a sales person and felt great about what was discussed; how things would go if you worked together; and been compelled to go ahead with the project, only to find later that the promises made were clearly unfulfilled. Most of us have. If you haven’t, you’re lucky.
What was the impression left after such an experience? Would you refer that company to others? Most likely the answer is negative on both counts.
The manner in which you serve your customers is the ultimate measure of any business. It becomes the most important facet of your image. Nothing can negate your hard work in outlining a service model faster and paralyze your business’ growth more painfully. Quality and price advantages only last for a little while…it’s service excellence that paints a lasting positive impression in the client’s mind.
So how do we ensure that we achieve service-excellence day-in and day-out? We invest in our team, and develop a true “business intelligence” in each and every member of our team.
Effective businesses thrive, even in a tough economic climate by knowing what to say and do for their clients. They are aware that WHOEVER IS INTERACTING WITH THE CLIENT IN ANY WAY… IS THE COMPANY, and that any negative perception of an individual translates directly and immediately to one’s impression of the company’s image.
The two most important impressions are the first one and the last one. Most companies do well at first impressions…far fewer are strong through to the last one. This is essentially the defining element of “mediocre” in today’s business world. By the way, it’s great to compete against mediocre, but it stinks to be it…especially when you strive to be anything but. IT’S LIKE A COSTUME YOU DON’T WANT TO WEAR BUT CAN’T GET OUT OF. And it’s a death curse by paper cut.
Think about it…few hire a company that they thought was mediocre from the very beginning. If they thought that, then they would have found someone else. It’s what happens along the way that buries most companies under a negative image.
So…how do we as business pros develop a systematic approach to ensuring top-quality service and lasting great impressions? Here is fairly simple methodology:
Step 1 – Survey
The first step is to start listening. Ask the clients what they want and find out what they think about your service deliverable (and about everything else too). We insist that our clients regularly poll the community at large. After all, information is the most valuable resource in business. Why not time, money, or contacts you might say? Well, if you don’t have the right information, then how do you know where, when and how to employ the other three resources most effectively?
Step 2 – GAP Analysis
Record and assess the responses you get. You will end up with a GAP Analysis. Soon you will find your Paragon (the path to excellence) that shows you how to serve your clients in a way that makes them come back time and time again.
Step 3 – Vision Meeting
Leaders of companies who sustain their growth and become consistently thriving organizations empower managers and staff by concisely communicating what they expect their clients’ experience to be. They then supply them with the tools they need to deliver upon that expectation. If you fail to achieve this, and drive it throughout your organization, your team members will inherently create their own way of doing things, which is destined to end in inconsistency, confusion, and ultimately chaos for both staff and clients.
Step 4 -Client Satisfaction System
Now that you have the vision of what you want and will expect, it is the responsibility of every leader to train your team and help them develop the Mindset, Strategies and Tactics to execute that from day to day. The most effective program of training and reinforcement starts by mapping out the steps and skill sets needed to deliver the ultimate experience for your clients.
Be as detailed as possible…it’s crucial! No detail is too small. Don’t expect them to fill in the gaps on their own. No offense to them, but they don’t have (typically that is, unless you’re very lucky) the same entrepreneurial vision as you do.
You ultimately manage your company’s results…and management by our definition is: TAKING 100% RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE ACTIONS AND RESULTS OF OTHERS. Don’t abdicate the throne!! Don’t assume (you all know what you do when you assume!!) your people already know what you are thinking.
Your goal should be to develop a natural systematic approach that your team can execute instinctively, no matter the situation.
Get your system mapped out in a client satisfaction playbook, and get everyone together frequently to work to develop the mindset, instinct and skill sets to execute it. Have them sign off on their commitment to the program and REWARD THEM FOR ACHIEVING THE STATUS OF CONSISTENT EXECUTION. MAKE IT PART OF YOUR CULTURE!!
The payoff will be a visceral improvement in clients’ experiences, a huge upward shift in your image, and a sustainable, consistent methodology for excellence that will stand the test of time.
More to come…