Is there anything better than an upgrade?

In a previous blog I wrote about an observation I have had which is that businesses place to much of an emphasis on the importance of prospecting, versus growing the businesses through referrals that come as a result of creating an exceptional client experience for your existing clients.

Specifically I feel that it is completely inappropriate for a business to give products and gifts away to strangers while ignoring an existing client. My bank was giving anyone who would open a new account an iPod.  They were asking me to subsidize the cost of the iPods through my service fees on various accounts, and mortgages.

How about your mobile telephone provider? Mobile telephone companies are possibly the only business that has managed to find a way to both ‘suck’ and ‘blow’ at the exact same time.

I feel like a hostage, certainly not a valued client. They constantly roll out new offers, more competitive fees but if I want the same deal as a stranger (read – someone who isn’t paying them already) then I have to renew my contract.

In other words – “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 a lot more new clients and good will if they gave me an iPod and said “thanks for being our client.”

Imagine if my mobile phone provider sent me a letter saying “we are going to be charging you less from here on in because we have brought in more competitive fees. This does not in any way effect 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.”

In an effort to get more clients, businesses offer all kinds of incentives to bring more bodies in the door. Often this involves price discounts or some kind of “2 for 1” offer.

We all have businesses that we like to spend our money at – I love to spend my money in my neighborhood and I rally around local entrepreneurs who are doing what they can to make it on their own, I have written about it.

What I like about the small independent business experience is that you know that you matter to the owner, and I often get a hand shake or personal attention which adds to the experience, it makes me feel important, it 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. We all want a place to go where everybody knows our shame, oops, I mean ‘name.’

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 consumers 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%* 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 better that is versus having your clients 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 revenue 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 of music that I like that I think they might like too.

7.       Keep your clients on a service schedule, and communicate it to them so that they know what to expect next.

8.       Focus on the small details. As a speaker, one thing that I do (all the time) is that I check in with my client during my travel day, just to let them know where I am at, and that there are no delays etc. I then email them or call them the moment I am at the hotel, and I confirm that I know when my speaking time is, and I tell them that I will be there early to see the room etc. I figure that they probably have a list of things to check in on, and I am probably one of those items – so I take one item off that list for them. May not seem like much, but it’s the first thing the client says to me after good morning “and thank you for your messages yesterday.” Its one of my secrets – feel free to have it.

9.       Don’t feel like you always have to make your lists 10, sometimes 9 is fine.

Let me take this moment to thank you for reading my blog. I really like being a speaker, I like being a coach, and I work as hard as I can to make my blogs something worth reading. So thanks. I like to think I’m getting better all the time.

*SpectremGroup, 2009 Ultra High Net Worth Report

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