If your customer experience is poor, it doesn’t matter what else you do.
It doesn’t matter if your client list reads like a who’s who of star companies.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve won industry awards.
It doesn’t matter if you have 10 degrees from the best universities in the world.
Nobody cares about all that if you don’t consistently deliver quality customer experience (apart from maybe your Mum).
And this is where so many service providers fail, which is your chance to seize the initiative.
1. Always do what you say you will do
I’ll send you the first deliverable by Wednesday EOB. I’ll make sure it’s optimised for search and I’ll follow your brief to the letter.
This is obviously an example of a copywriting project, but you can relate it to your sector if different.
How many service providers say something like this? Nearly all of them, of course.
How many actually do it consistently? Not so many.
It seems so simple, yet most service providers mess something up. They deliver late without warning. They miss something on the brief. They misinterpret something and don’t clarify it.
Or they do deliver well, but then their after-service is lacking.
It’s simple: don’t annoy your clients. Do what you promise.
2. Be professional at all times
Your conduct, your communication, your responsiveness. Even your complaints process. Every single aspect of your client service should be professional.
It seems crazy that this actually needs saying, but so many service providers come up short and drop their standards.
People like to know what to expect.
If they think, “Hey, Jane Smith Industries are always so professional.”
And “On the other hand Peter McPeterson Ltd can be unreliable,” there will only be one winner.
3. Take an active, authentic interest in your client
As a business leader, you know that running a company is tough. And you’ll also know that a service provider who is genuinely interested in your company (and not just what they can get from you) is rare.
Be that client who expresses real interest without looking to make gains by doing so. Be a sounding board. Be the exception to the what’s-in-it-for-me norm.
The win-win here is that you actually get to know your client a lot better and you can deliver superior, more on-point work for them.
4. Go further than what you’re required to do
It might be a business cliché now to say “underpromise and overdeliver.” Maybe because people don’t actually do it.
They say it. They might even buy into it. But they don’t do it!
Personally, I’ve never been comfortable with underpromising. I agree to a project with my clients. But I always aim to go above and beyond throughout and after the assignment at hand.
Ultimately, client satisfaction comes first. Otherwise, what’s the point? If they’re not happy, you’re probably in the wrong job.
How can you go further? Well, by doing the first three in this list, you’re already going further than the norm in today’s business world.
But that’s not good enough.
You should be doing that regardless. Comparison to your run-of-the-mill competitors is no way to benchmark.
Go further by nailing your after-sales service.
Go further by asking for feedback. On their overall impression and if there is anything to improve upon. And then actually put in into practice.
Go further by being specific. I can’t emphasise this enough. Make your client’s life easier by being as precise as possible with instructions, notes, comments and so forth.
Don’t make them ask questions. It creates frustration and inefficiencies.
And keep them updated while you’re in production with how things are going and if there are any sticking points. Keeping a client in the dark if things are going south usually makes things worse. Businesspeople know problems occur – they have to put out their own fires after all – and they appreciate your candour if it does happen.
5. Make sure you’re all on the same page from the off
The way I see it, it is your responsibility as a service provider that every stakeholder is in agreement at the start. It’s on you.
A lot of the time clients might know what they want, but they don’t communicate it so well for whatever reason (they’re busy, they’re waiting on other departments and so forth). Or maybe you miss something yourself.
This is why it’s best to make sure everyone is on the same page.
My own process is to ensure I receive a brief, via email or call. And then I confirm in writing what exactly is required and expected.
Doing this, you ensure that everyone is in agreement. That the project is as smooth as possible and nobody’s time is wasted doing edits and rewriting that shouldn’t be necessary, but unfortunately, all too often is.
If you prioritise customer service and you make damn sure that you never fail to deliver, you already have a unique selling point.
Providing a great customer experience takes more time and it’s easy to take the quicker route. But not only will you make your clients happier, your own business is more likely to flourish as a result.