How to Differentiate Yourself From the Rest: It’s not enough just to meet customer expectations anymore
Do you know what it’s like when you nurture and cultivate a quality business relationship with a client? Do you know what it’s like when you have a client relationship where they would never consider using another person/company for your types of products and services? You know what I mean, the kind of clients who buy what you tell them to and they provide you with even more business and continuous referrals. Do you know what I’m talking about? Isn’t it a great feeling?
Think of the times when you received, as a client, exceptional customer service. How often do you pay for products/services in which you did not like the service or get what you believe is average service? If you did receive average or exceptional service, how did that make you feel? I know exceptional customer service makes me want to do business with that person or company again and to refer their products/services to everyone I know.
As we all know, satisfied clients tell an average of 3 to 5 people. Unsatisfied clients don’t return, and they tell approximately 10 people and then those people tell other people. A successful business attributes approximately 85% of their clients to word of mouth. Make your customer service work for you and not against you.
Why do clients choose NOT to return to a place of business? In the Secrets of Service book by Susan Clarke, it states that 68% quit doing business with you because they encounter an attitude of indifference. You see, it doesn’t take much to keep the clients we want. All we have to do is just exceed their expectations by a little and we will be far ahead of the competition.
Here are six tips that will help you exceed your client’s expectations.
- Build Trust
Every other ‘salesperson’ is trying to build rapport by using common ground techniques and we all know what those are. You know when someone is trying to make small talk to find out what your interests are so you can develop some kind of rapport before they try and sell you something. Bill Bachrach, author of Values-Based Selling; The Art of Building High-Trust Client Relationships, has a great quote, “People do things for people they trust, they won’t do for anyone else.” You can show genuine interest in your clients and find things in common, but it is not the first thing you do. You want to build trust, which is the foundation for long-term loyal relationships. People can like you and not want to do business with you. People do business with people they trust.
- Be Enthusiastic
Are you happy to be alive today? If not, what has to happen for you to be passionate and enthusiastic about what you do every day? When you love what you do (passionate about it), people notice. We attract people when we feel this way because people like to be around people who are positive. We repel people when we act otherwise. Clients don’t want to be around us when we don’t have that desire and enthusiasm.
Your enthusiasm and excitement rubs off on clients and that creates referral business for you. Enthusiastic people are often very productive and overflowing with energy and ideas. Learn to take pleasure in the little things and train yourself to keep that enthusiasm flowing. Be the person your clients look forward to hearing from. Put a smile on your face and get excited. Your smile will come through in your tone of voice and attitude. If you feel burned out or haven’t had a vacation in a while, take some time off. It is proven that free time (vacation time) rejuvenates you and you are much more productive when you return to work after taking a relaxing and enjoyable vacation.
- Observe the Golden Rule/Platinum Rule.
The Golden Rule basically says, treat your clients the way you would expect to be treated. The Platinum rule says to treat your clients the way they expect and want to be treated, not how you expect to be treated (because it might be different). If you want to learn more about the Platinum Rule, there is an entire book by this name by Tony Alessandra. Help your clients get what they want and need based on what is really important to them (not to what is important to you because it might be different). Return phone calls promptly and keep promises you make. It is better to over deliver than under deliver. As you work with your clients in this way, ask yourself, “am I referable” from my clients perspective?
- Be a team player
Be a team player in as many groups as you can. I’m not talking about every group on the planet. I’m talking about getting involved in the groups that makes the most sense. You have an interest in what they do or stand for and your target clients also have the same interest/involvement. What kinds of things are your target clients involved in and that you enjoy? Participate in those groups. It can be volunteer work for charities or non-profit associations or even golfing. As Ronald Reagan said, “You’ll get what you want out of life by helping other people get what they want.” You want your clients to view you as their coach/resource to help them make smart choices and be even more successful.
- Ask Good Questions and Listen
Knowledge is key to personal and professional growth, and both are vital to sales success. You won’t learn anything by talking, but you can find out a lot by listening. Don’t assume you know what your clients want or need, ask them. Survey, verbally and/or written, your clients about what they want, don’t want, need, desire, expect and then give it to them. Ask them what is important to them, gain insight into their values. Help them to achieve what is important and you will be successful. Ron Karr & Don Blohowiak give specific examples of why we don’t ask questions, and the power and benefits of asking ‘good’ questions along with the types of questions to ask in their book, Idiot’s Guide to Customer Service.
- Show Your Gratitude.
Remember to say “please” and “thank you.” It sometimes seems like a small gesture but it is very important in our fast-paced world. Thank them for their business, both personally and with hand-written notes. Even if they did not buy from you right now, thank them for their interest and for spending time with you. They just might remember that simple gesture when they are ready to buy, or they might refer you to someone who needs what you do now. Dan Sullivan, The Strategic Coach for top producers, says that saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are two important things to do toward getting more referrals from existing clients.
I like to send small items of appreciation to people, like items I think they will enjoy based on what I know about them. I give things like books, clocks, motivational audio tapes, quote cards, carrot pens (yes, they actually write), fashion jewelry, etc. When you say thank you, it doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be something to make them laugh or something to help them get more knowledge in an area that will help their business reach the next level. I even send them articles I see that I think would be of value to them. They can be things related to their spiritual health, financial health, physical health, relationship health or even mental health.
Exceed client’s expectations at all times. Go the extra mile and it will pay off for you time and time again. Your clients will feel good about spending their money with you over and over again. Consumers are no longer settling for poor or average service. They have choices and exercise their options to spend their money with whoever provides them what they want and gives them exceptional customer service too. T. Scott Gross wrote Positively Outrageous Service and has included in his book many new and easy ways to win customers for life that may also help you.
Keep the competition back over your shoulder. They don’t have to be in the distance, just as long as they are behind you. Do you know where your competition stands today? Exceeding your clients’ expectations only takes a little bit of effort, but it can do a lot for your sales.