It’s no secret that customer service is one of the most critical factors when it comes to creating differentiation between your own company and the never-ending sea of competition. So many service contractors are looking for the same type of clients, there can be great confusion created in the marketplace. The reality is that doing a good job when it comes to customer service is no longer good enough.
This time of year, many of us are celebrating Valentine’s Day, and I want to challenge you to reflect upon how well you’re treating your beloved clients. To do this, think about your marketing processes and break them into three categories we call “units” — the before unit, the during unit and the after unit. I want to focus on the after unit this month and challenge your thought process when it comes to how attentive you are to your client’s true needs.
You most certainly have a marketing budget, but how are you diversifying your spending when it comes to the three different units? If you’re like most contractors, you don’t think a whole lot about the after unit marketing once you’ve earned a new client. However, if I ask you how important repeat business is to your bottom line, you would launch into a rant about how you can’t survive without your ever-so-important repeat clients.
What are you doing to ensure they make the conscious choice to come back to your company again and again? How can you make them feel as special as you make your own Valentine’s sweetie feel this month? If they are such a crucial piece of your success, let’s look at some ways we can build more fences around our clients and keep them coming back. You invest in marketing to get a client lead in the first place, so why wouldn’t you invest in making them feel special throughout the year?
Many different strategies are available to successfully stay in front of your clients. You might be doing some of them now, but how much attention are you really giving to clients? Our clients have needs for us at different times for different reasons. We want to be at the top of their minds so we get the phone call every time they have a need or desire for our services.
Lack of follow-up and effective communication are costing you money. Nearly every company we’ve done onsite consulting with is not following up with clients at a necessary level to remain a top-of-mind service provider. Of course, in order for your follow-up process to be effective, you must begin with a customer “wowing” process in the first place. If you simply meet customers’ needs, they most likely won’t pay attention to your messaging in after-unit marketing campaigns. However, when you focus on the two words — beyond expectations — great things begin to happen.
Going beyond expectations
To make your client feel like your Valentine, here are a few simple steps to help your team go above and beyond client expectations. The first one seems too simple to be true, but it’s where everything begins and ends when it comes to building a winning client relationship.
- Communicate effectively.Many technicians would prefer to have a conversation with a piece of equipment rather than the actual client. When there is not effective communication present, there is no relationship built. If there is not a good relationship built, trust will not be established. If there is no trust in the equation, you will not earn a client. Engagement is incredibly necessary in order to build a great relationship with a loyal client.
- Personalize your service.The days of transaction-based selling are over and gone. In order to succeed in today’s competitive environment, you must become more personal with your clients. That doesn’t mean you have to know every single thing about them, but they must feel you understand them. If they feel understood and valued by your team, they will become raving fans. Your frontline team must personalize their communication and services for every interaction. This means your team must get very good with asking quality questions and practicing effective listening.
- Keep clients informed.Many contractors hesitate to send newsletters on a monthly or quarterly basis. This is a tragedy because newsletters are one of the best returns on investment a contractor can make. A good newsletter is the life blood of your after-unit marketing and your efforts to deliver superior service. Our most successful clients send a hard copy newsletter on a quarterly basis and an email newsletter on a monthly basis. Keep it relatable to the client and include interesting, valuable articles in addition to a few offers and coupons.
- Give your clients a voice.When you under-promise and over-deliver, your clients will tell people. You want as much positive feedback as you possibly can receive, so give your clients a way to tell you (and the world) what a great job you’re doing. Many technicians are afraid to ask for online reviews, which is not serving the company or the client effectively. Your clients want to be heard and you need to help them find the right path to voice their experiences.
- Train and coach continuously.The better informed your team members are, the better positioned they are to succeed with your clients. Make sure you are having quality training meetings regarding service processes, marketing campaigns, technical changes and company vision. When team members feel they are part of the bigger plan, they can take ownership in their position. When you create an empowered, educated and highly trained culture of customer service experts, you will finally be able to stand out in the sea of sameness in the marketplace.
If you want your clients to “feel the love,” renew your own vision and focus on the customer service delivery process at your company. Now more than ever, clients want to have trusted, personalized service they can count on. Make sure you are the one providing them with that service.