“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”–Maya Angelou
The quality that separates good service providers from great ones is typically a very simple, but overwhelmingly important feature: Customer Service. Attention to detail, assurance of quality, addressing concerns, meeting and/or exceeding expectations, righting wrongs, easing anxieties, comforting, wowing… The list goes on.
By the same token, sometimes service providers are driven to offer outstanding customer service simply because they like the customer – that is, the customer is a great client – not strictly in financially-related or referral-related terms, but in terms of behaviors. Allow me to explain by way of example.
Years ago, my dear friend, Paul Russell, founder and owner of training provider ej4, hired me to serve as his “book coach.” I’d never been a book coach – hadn’t even heard the concept – but Paul had had four false starts on writing a book that was swimming around in his brain and wanted assistance to, once and for all, get the words on paper, design the final product, publish it, and make it commercially available. So, we got to work. I believe that I provided the requisite and expected service levels that Paul was seeking. I hope he has fond memories of that project. Truth told, it was a fabulous experience… for me! Why? Because Paul was a fabulous client! We operated as a team. I created a schedule of activity… he reviewed and approved it in short order. I assigned him writing tasks based on a draft table of contents and timetable we jointly created… he got to work right away and never missed a “deadline.” I edited his chapters… he immediately confirmed the changes. The result: STUN! Selling: Satisfy Their Unmet Need, a sales toolkit planned, written and published in fewer than nine months, start to finish. Awesome.
Another good example is my strategic planning work with Brandy, Michelle and Scott. These three professionals work in related divisions of a large conglomerate. Together, we have created no fewer than eight strategic plans for various business units. What makes my relationship with them unique is their open book approach to engaging me. Though I’m a contractor, they treat me as if I am a member of the team. Following the initial creation of each plan, these pros continued to include me… as they updated their plans, as circumstances changed, as they brought on new associates. They have maintained their documentation and kept me apprised of any moves. They bring me back in, at least annually, to help facilitate distribution and implementation of strategic initiatives. It allows me to serve their needs and meet their expectations as their strategic consultant. It is a pleasure working with them because they are great clients.
The list goes on and on. And, of course, the risk I run by naming these particular clients is that I’m leaving out dozens of others who I adore and with whom I have rock-solid relationships. With apologies, I simply wanted to give two concrete examples of what it takes to establish mutually beneficial relationships – between service providers and clientele – to ensure a virtuous cycle of teamwork, communication, quality, and collaboration.
Want great customer service? Be a great client.
Do you have a story of a time that you either had or were a great client? Please take a moment to share your experience at blog.coffeelunchcoffee.com.