6 questions you should be able to answer about your clients
Whatever industry you’re in, if you have clients or customers, you are in the relationship game.
It’s vitally important that you have a solid product that solves people’s problems BUT if it’s not wrapped up in a service experience that constantly builds and deepens rock-solid relationships with those you serve, your chances of being an indispensable part of your clients’ lives as well as creating the foundation for a wildly successful business are limited.
In my experience, there are plenty of great products out in the world, but very few great ‘experiences’. If you want to differentiate yourself from similar businesses in your market, then building a great service experience is the perfect place to start making your ‘product’ irresistible and your clients fiercely loyal.
So how do you design a client/customer experience that makes people feel understood, appreciated and looked after?
More to the point, how do you start to turn good relationships into deep and lasting relationships?
Here are some questions you should be able to answer about your clients. If you don’t know the answer to any of these, this is a great place to start.
- Do you know for sure that your clients are ACTUALLY happy?
I’m not talking vibe or gut feel here. Too often people think a client relationship is rock solid and then work out that it’s not, unfortunately when it’s too late. The earlier you can open clients up to sharing small and bigger relationship issues, the better. Do you have data that demonstrates your clients are delighted and would happily tell their family and friends about you? If not, it may be time to survey your clients and build meaningful surveys into your client experience at consistent points. If you don’t know about the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or what your business’ score is, this is a great place to start.
- How do they like to be communicated with?
SMS, phone, email, in person… we all have our preferences for how we like to communicate as well as our least favourite method. The problem here is that you may pat yourself on the back for sending a friendly SMS to a client but this client, with poor eyesight and fat thumbs, finds the process of engaging with you this way stressful rather than energising. If you’re not sure how your clients want to speak to you, build that into your survey above.
- When was the last time you heard from them or did they hear from you?
When we start out in business, it’s easy to keep track of all of our clients and show them enough love. But as our businesses grow, our client lists expand beyond the ability of our memory. Most businesses are overly reactive and the ‘squeakier wheels’ get all the good oil, meaning our less vocal clients can slip through the cracks and receive an inferior service experience. If you don’t currently document every time you speak with a client in your CRM system, you need to. And if you don’t have a minimum standard for how often you speak with your clients beyond your scheduled meetings with them, you should probably build that into your ‘business as usual’ as well.
- What do they like?
Most of us understand the power of understanding our clients on a personal level and showing them how much we care. Small touches like remembering your clients’ favourite drink before a meeting, sending them a meaningful gift for an important milestone or knowing how to start a casual conversation with them are the little things in any relationship that become the big things. But as our businesses get crazier, it can be harder to recall these facts about our clients when we need them at our fingertips. Once again, this is another example of where you need to rely more on your system and less on your memory. If your CRM doesn’t paint a 3D view of who your clients are, it’s time to start pulling stuff out of your brain and into a more usable format.
- What’s most important to them right now?
The best businesses solve very real problems for people. It’s easy for a business to get caught up in the ‘bigger picture strategy’ of what they’re trying to achieve for a client, but from the client’s perspective, the most real thing in their world at that point in time is a challenge, frustration or even an unanswered question that is keeping them up at night. If your client service model isn’t unturfing and solving these problems regularly, you’re missing out on crucial opportunities to make yourself invaluable to your clients. Always make sure you are meeting your clients where they are at right now, then take them on the journey they originally enrolled in.
- What does a successful life look like for them in 3, 6 or 12 months time?
Think of an important relationship in your personal life, whether it be a spouse, a partner or just a great friend. Strong relationships involve a combination of being happy today, while feeling excited for the future, with the latter often helping create the former. There’s a reason why people cite a desire to grow old together as a sign of finding ‘the one’.
And it’s no different with your clients…
They have plans, dreams and hopes for the future and the more aligned a service-based business is to making these a reality, the deeper your relationship will be. Service providers can gravitate towards being backwards-looking, but it’s crucial to regularly look forward as well. Create a space where your clients can dream and realign your work together so you are helping get them closer to this vision. Your goal should be for clients to know that your work together is valuable and rewarding, but feel like the best is yet to come. When they are thinking about their future, you want them the picture to include you standing there beside them.
- Does your team know the answer to the above questions?
Think of your own experiences being a customer or client, where everyone you interacted with had the same passion for showing care and making you happy. Is your business creating this type of experience, or are you the peak of your clients’ experience? If your clients are too ‘you dependent’, this places your client relationships and business at significant risk.
Like most aspects of business growth, delivering a remarkable client experience is well and truly a team sport!
You need to create a culture of client obsession, and that starts with your team understanding the importance of the part they play in this. As for how they can specifically contribute, their knowledge of and contribution to the areas above will go a long way to ensuring that your clients feel consistently cared for, however they’re interacting with your business.
Delivering a client experience isn’t optional – it’s happening whether you like it or not. The only choice you have is whether it’s a mediocre one or a remarkable one.
If you want to be relevant in the future, there really is no choice.