Forget clients: create raving fans
By Matt Neuman
Make no mistake -- clients are your biggest asset. They are the lifeblood of this business; why you go to the office each day, the determining factor for your personal and professional success, why your business even exists in the first place. With that being said, what are you doing to make sure your clients are more than clients? How do you turn clients into raving fans of yourself, your staff and your business?
Client experience is more than simply great customer service. Creating a true client experience starts with that service and the processes you give to each person within your business. Before an exceptional experience can happen for your clients, the service and processes must be solidified.
A client experience begins with their initial contact with your business. Whether that comes from a friend's referral, a direct mail piece, an outgoing call, or an incoming call to your staff, the first impression is crucial to laying the client experience foundation. Do you have a Director of First Impressions in your office? If not, why not? Each aspect of the first contact needs to be systemized, planned, and perfect. Mail pieces need to present the best image of your firm. Phone scripts need to be in place for those always important first conversations with your future fans. A systematic way to handle client referrals needs to be in place. A Director of First Impressions can handle all of this and more. If you don't already have one, get one.
However, the first impression only lasts so long. Once a client enters your office, their experience truly begins. Right now, details matter most. How is someone greeted when they enter the door? How does a staff member offer them food or a drink? How long do they wait in your lobby? What materials are on the walls to build your firm's credibility? What other "wow factors" are in place to make people feel at home? Make every effort to give the upmost professional and comfortable impressions within your office. Clients need to feel at home and that you are the best at what you do.
Take a minute to remember an experience you've had with another business, when you said "wow!" What made you say that? Was it the product being offered? Probably not. People tend to equate a "wow" experience to the courtesy of staff, how quickly they were helped, if the people on the other side of the desk or phone seem to honestly care about them. Are there businesses within your own life where you remain a loyal client? Why is that? And how can you create that same experience within your office?
Our next step to creating raving fans lies within your first interaction with the future client. Acquiring a new client can be costly and time-consuming, so don't blow this step! Have a system in place to make them fans; to put them on your team, and be an advocate of you and your services. Perfect the way you greet someone new. Smile when you talk. Craft perfectly worded questions and make this step of the process the one you enjoy the most.
As we all know, clients do not become raving fans only through great service on their first visit. A huge mistake I've repeatedly seen is advisors treating prospects better than they treat existing clients. Think about your current cell phone carrier. New clients can get the latest and greatest phone for free, if they only sign up for a new agreement. You've been a client with them for seven years now. Where is your new, free phone? It can be yours for only $449 plus shipping, handling, taxes and a small activation charge. How does that feel? Don't do this to your clients. Repeatedly attempt to create the same excited feeling your client experienced at the beginning of your relationship every time you meet.
In order to turn clients into raving fans, ask yourself:
1. Do I have a unique, personalized feel?
Score major points for your team by creating a unique feel by sending handwritten thank-you card and never stamping your signature.
2. Are service standards in place to insure continuous "wow" experiences?
You and your employees need a playbook. Scripts, manuals, guides and procedures help ensure that every client has that "wow" feeling.
3. Do I make clients feel welcome?
Gain the home court advantage. Think about how you greet and introduce yourself, how you shake hands, and how you appear to them. Be critical of yourself often, and take steps to get better in this area.
4. Would my clients refer me new fans? Are they true advocates?
This is the grand slam of questions. The biggest compliment you can receive in our business is a referral. Take them seriously when received, follow-up diligently, and make sure your existing client feels appreciated and your new client feels welcomed. Make this priority number one and you're on the path to new fans.
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