My observation has been that businesses place too much emphasis on the importance of prospecting, as opposed to growing the business through client referrals that result from
providing exceptional client experiences. To be even more specific, I feel that it is completely inappropriate for a business to give products and gifts away to strangers while ignoring an existing
client.

Not long ago, my bank was giving an iPod to anyone who would open a new account. Meanwhile, what do I get for all my years of being the bank’s loyal client, for having several accounts
and a couple of mortgages?

Here’s what I get: nothing but service fees. I get the privilege of paying for these free giveaways to strangers off the street with my service fees and interest charges. Please, just point to whom I can
thank.

Similarly, if one were to open a new account with my cell phone company, they would get a snappy new phone with every feature short of an exercise ball built into it. Yet how am I rewarded for paying my
phone bill on time (or even better, slightly late so I can gift them a nice interest charge)? I get a nice phone bill.

I feel like a hostage, certainly not a valued client. These service providers constantly roll out new offers and more competitive fees, but if I want the same deal that a stranger will get (read: someone who isn’t
paying the bank or phone company already), then I have to renew my contract.

In other words, they are telling me: “If you want the deal that will help you save a little money, you have to agree to pay us for a little longer, which means you won’t actually save any more money. Thanks for
your business.”

I won’t belabor the point. I’ll just point out that every business would get more new clients and more goodwill if they gave me the iPod and said, “Thanks for being our client. We are going to charge you less
from here on in because we have brought in more competitive fees. This does not in any way affect the term of our agreement. You are a valued client, and we want you to remain with us for years to come.”

An upgrade says, “We get it.”

We all have businesses where we like to spend our money.  Personally, I like to rally around local entrepreneurs in my neighbourhood who are doing what they can to make it on their own.  At these businesses, I know that I matter to the owner.  I often get a handshake or personal attention which adds to the experience, makes me feel like a preferred client, and it keeps me coming back.  We all want to be recognized and belong to some sort of community.

When you get upgraded, the business is telling you “We get it”, “We recognize you”, “We appreciate you” and finally “We really want you to keep coming back.”

From the consumer’s point of view – you get more value for your dollar. You get the product, and a reminder that you matter.

“Best Clients” want to help you. They want to bring their friends in and introduce them.

A best client isn’t necessarily the client who pays you the most or spends the most in your store. A best client is often the person who appreciates all that you do. Your best clients appreciate being part of your story, and they appreciate how you treat them.

Best clients are the cheapest form of advertising.

In the Financial Services Industry there is a 47%[1] chance that your next client will come to you via referral so investing into your business – specifically into your client experience – is critical to your success. That is, if you want things to constantly get easier and more enjoyable.

How can you upgrade your client service experience?

Here is a short list of suggestions.

  1. Treat the people who work for you really nicely. They are ambassadors of you, and what you do. If your staff is happy, your clients will feel it. People want to do business with kind, decent people.
  2. Work with an ideal client profile and communicate this to your clients. Let them know that you don’t just work with anyone.  You are special and by association, so are they.
  3. Prospects check in, clients we wait for. Have a staff member wait for your clients in the lobby. You know when the appointment is, so you should be able to guess when they will arrive. Think about how much more memorable this is for the client than to check in with the receptionist.
  4. Meet in the boardroom and not the office, and make sure that the room is set up nicely for the visit with refreshments, glassware, china, and have all your materials ready and prepared.
  5. Spend the appropriate amount of time with the right clients based on the revenue they bring to your business.
  6. Always give your client a gift. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but good business is about manners as much as it is about delivering services. I give my clients books or CDs that I like that I think they might enjoy.
  7. Keep your clients on a service schedule, and communicate it to them so that they know what to expect.
  8. Focus on the small details. As a speaker, one thing that I do (all the time) is to I check in with my host client during my travel day, just to let them know where I am at, that there are no delays etc. The moment I’m in my hotel room, I email or call them to confirm my speaking time, and to tell them that I will be there early to see the room etc.  They have a checklist of pre-event activities, and I am probably one of those items, so I take one item off that list for them.  It may not seem like much but invariably,  the first thing the client says to me the next day is, “Thank you for your messages yesterday.”
  9. Don’t feel like you always need ten items on your lists. Sometimes nine is fine.

[1] A 2009 survey by Spectrem Group, “The Ultra High Net Worth Report.”

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