I’m forever fascinating about ways to give clients VIP treatment from the very first contact. I like to observe how others give customer service. You can really see it in the restaurant business, can’t you? Great service always stands out in my mind. And as a paying customer, it’s that kind of service I want to be around. Have you observed others doing great things with customers? Have you adopted some of those ideas into your own business?
One way to really sharpen your customer service skills is to be a client yourself to someone in the service industry. By observing how someone treats you as a client, you can take some pointers from them on the things that work. When things don’t work out well, you can also learn from that. I’ve learned some of my best customer service practices by not doing what someone did with me.
Here are a few things I learned from the experience of being a client.
One. I enjoy being taken care of from the very start. When we’ve set up an appointment, I really appreciate when the service provider emails or phones me and tells me how best to prepare for our appointment. I like being ready so our time together will be efficient. My clients appreciate when I send them homework and explain ahead of time what we’ll accomplish in the time we have together.
Two. I want the time that’s going to be spent solving the problems the service provider has told me she can solve to be spent on doing just that. I don’t want to hear her text messages coming in. I don’t want to see her checking emails. It makes me feel like I’m not her priority. I never want my clients to feel like they’re not my priority.
Three. I appreciate the service provider being on time for our appointment, especially our first appointment. I don’t want to hear from someone I’ve yet to meet about how she’s running late because it took her longer to run her morning errands. I’d be more sympathetic with a friend but it’s not what I’d expect from a paid professional. The time I’ve set aside was difficult to carve out of my busy schedule. By being there on time, she demonstrates that she’s respectful of my time and our commitment. I want to arrive early to a first appointment so I can be relaxed and composed when I meet my client for the first time.
Four. It’s important that a professional person who arrives at my door looks like a professional person. When she’s dressed in a wrinkled shirt, jeans, and scuffed up shoes, it makes me feel like she’s not serious about her work. Is this her real job? Is it a hobby? Is this a job she’s lost interest in? I like when my clients open the door and say, “You look exactly as I expected you would.”
Five. I find it unprofessional when a professional talks about her personal life while we’re working together. I want my clients to feel like they’re my number one top priority so I keep the focus on them and any talk about myself is cut short.
A tool for creating more professionalism in your service industry
There was a time in my profession when I wanted to raise my rates. I got out a piece of paper and wrote down the hourly rate I wanted to be paid. The number I wrote down was quite a jump from what I’d been charging. So I asked myself, How would a consultant act who was earning this new fee of $XXX per hour?
The answers came easily. I’d up my professionalism. I’d be on time for appointments. I’d be attentive, listening far more than I talked. I’d focus only on her in the appointment. I wouldn’t have my phone on or even in sight. I’d be a friendly, gracious professional. I’d aim to exceed her expectations. I’d followup in a timely fashion. I’d be connecting with her in ways that made her realize I valued her even when I wasn’t in an appointment with her.
From doing this exercise I could see ways I could improve the delivery of my services. I knew I could become a better professional and by doing that I’d feel okay about raising my rates. Which I did.
How do you want to feel as a client? Figuring that out and acting on what you come up with will assure that you’ll become the professional others will be talking about and referring people to.