The Client Experience is Everything
Whenever I initially ask a business owner, “What makes your special?”, or “Why should I buy from you?”, one very common response is “Well we provide excellent customer service”. Most companies promise ‘excellent customer service’ and will position their uniqueness around this notion, however, how many actually deliver on this promise, or in fact over-deliver?
Excellent customer service these days is a given; we all expect it. This quality simply gets you into the game. Customer service needs to be something much more effective, demonstrable and above all tangible. That’s why I’m keen for you to explore and develop what I refer to as the ‘client experience’.
You see from the very moment a potential client first makes an enquiry, to the time at which they receive the end result; you and your company are on trial. So ensuring you offer the optimum client experience is critical to your success, and ultimately in positioning your company as the preferred choice.
I believe there are three key areas that you, as a business owner must focus on, to deliver a consistent client experience. These are as follows:
- Before the sale;
- During the sale, and;
- After the sale
So let’s discuss each of stage in detail.
Before the sale
Today in 2010, we now have more choices that ever before – or to put it another way – so does your potential client!
So keeping this in mind, you need to create the ultimate ‘client experience’ from the very moment someone makes an initial enquiry with your business. This affords you a tremendous opportunity to make a real impact on the prospect, from the very start.
You see, whilst the competition might follow-up an enquiry with, say, a standard letter and/or put a brochure in the post; you want to offer much more. So here are two very powerful strategies I want you to adopt:
- Offer an education up front
- Treat the prospect as if they are already a client
I believe that as a society as a whole, we have all become very good at ‘filtering’ or simply ignoring the many marketing messages that come our way, each and every day: particularly those messages that do not speak to us on a personal level. So one way to ensure your message cuts through all of this clutter, is to offer a tremendous education up front. That is, rather than using a very ‘sales orientated’ message, you begin to educate your audience from the very start, as to how you can appreciate their concerns and frustrations. You begin to offer some valuable insight that will enable them to have much greater confidence in buying from you.
Always keep this in mind: Education builds rapport.
So before any transaction has taken place use every opportunity to demonstrate your expertise.
The second part of this strategy involves treating the prospect as if they are already a client. Simply put, because you anticipate gaining their business at some stage, you don’t hold back on the initial advice and guidance you’re able to provide. Now I don’t believe one moment you ‘give it all away’, after all you have a business to run!
However, because there is an expectation – that in time – the prospect will turn into a client, you treat them as one and the same. It’s really a shift in your mindset; because you anticipate the prospect’s business at some point, you ensure you offer the best guidance and insight from the very start.
During the sale
Building on the above concept, it’s important to see how you can offer a better client experience during the sale. Now how you do this will depend on what you offer, however, here is one very simply strategy you can implement. I call this the ‘Added-Value Ladder’.
Simply put, you need to plot every interaction you have with a client during the delivery of your product or service, and then see how you’re able to offer greater value at each stage.
If you’re stuck for ideas, I would urge you to not worry so much about the ‘how’ at this stage – instead – focus on ‘what’ you can bring to the course of the transaction. For example during the course of delivering your product or service, where are the typical ‘pain points’ for your client?
Let your mind come up with all manner of opportunities and then see which are the most practical and cost-effective for your business.
After the sale
Finally, how can you add more value to your client’s experience after the sale? Now this is where many business owners fail to capitalise and often miss out.
You see your client never really buys your product or service; they buy the result of that product or service. Or to put it another way, they are buying an ‘outcome’. They will have engaged your services for the purposes of gaining a solution to a problem they have. This being the case, it’s critical that you follow-up after the sale.
Again this small shift in how you approach ‘customer service’, will present you with so many opportunities. For example, you may be in a position to offer a cross or up-sell to a complimentary product or service.
So look at how you approach your ‘after sales service’, or for that matter, look at how your industry or sector approaches this. Do you simply deliver the product or service, and then leave the client to it? Do you keep in regular contact after the sale, and maybe offer additional help? Again you need to be mindful of what you feel the market would be most receptive to. This is not a strategy whereby you consistently harass the client for more custom.
So having explored each stage of the client’s experience of doing business with you i.e. before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale; see how you can now bring greater value to each step. If you want to get noticed, and ultimately position your company as the preferred choice, it all starts with providing an incredible client experience.
This is your key take-away positioning strategy: The client experience is everything.
Andrew Ludlam is a qualified business adviser, marketing consultant and trainer, specialising in helping business owners position themselves as authorities in their field. To discover more, go to www.maverickmarketingconsultancy.co.uk
Maverick Marketing Consultancy