In Part 1 of “The Devil is the in the Detail,” we covered the advantages small business owners have over their competitors when it comes to creating a great customer experience. We also covered the first half of a six part list on\ simple ways how you can do this. Add to that list with the last three dead simple ways you can part business benevolence and reap a compelling customer experience.
Don’t Hen-Peck Contracts
I recently subcontracted a new corporate logo. The client has been on the roster for a while and comes back every now and again for some work. More importantly, this client always pays on time and can be trusted to communicate – which, if you’re a small business owner, know is pretty rare and valuable. The point of this story is that the client reached for work outside the terms of the contract, but rather than hen-peck the contract, we obligingly delivered exactly what they wanted. As I explained to the subcontractor who didn’t understand this process, “if you hen-peck the contract, you’re just looking petty. She’s not asking for that much more…so just give her what she wants and she’ll be happy enough to come back again.”
Recognize the “Big Stuff”
Birthdays, losses, new babies, charity drives. This is the important stuff – or in honor of Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, “that’s the good stuff.” Money will come and go but creating relationships is, at least for me, the most important aspect of my business. I always try to recognize the important stuff in a person’s life. Honestly, it doesn’t take a lot to do this. For example, I have a micro-business for custom handmade jewelry (an Etsy storefront called “Qahani”). Earlier this year I had a client who mentioned she wanted an order of earrings to go with her wedding dress. I didn’t just send her the earrings. I also sent her an extra little gift of jewelry with a personal not that it was a wedding gift from me. I can tell you, it meant the world to her. On another note, I knew an old-time client was having a particularly rough year…so for her birthday, I sent a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from the company. That also went over very well.
Recognition comes in several different forms. The “big stuff” stuff in their personal lives is one of them. The other is recognizing business milestones. Have they won a recent award, accepted an invitation to join a local board of directors, or have they won an election for local council? Have they been featured in a magazine or are they celebrating their second year in business? These are important, especially if you had a hand in helping them reach this step. Here a simple card will do, or a bouquet of flowers for more notable achievements.
Expenses incurred from client recognition can be written off as “gifts”. You should also step forward to recognize people’s lives without expecting any business in return. It’s not about getting the business…it’s about keeping the clients so that next time around, they’ll be likely to go with you – or that when they speak of you to their friends and colleagues, they’ll speak fondly and with favor.
The reason recognition works like a charm is because most people don’t do it. It’s something I’ve been meaning to write a future post on – the lost art of basic business etiquette and manners. So if you’re one of the few handfuls that’s capable about giving without expecting anything directly in return, you’ll do well creating an exceptional customer experience.
Be Willing to Have a Conversation
Make time for your clients. Make it a point to reach out to them to get to know them as people. On the same note, never be to busy to have a quick 10 minute conversation with a client who’s reaching out to you …whether that’s about your company, their experience, or something entirely unrelated like new baby photos or tales from their last family reunion. Creating a connection with a customer as a human being is always ten times more effective than any marketing campaign you could throw at them. Also consider that sometimes that conversation can take place on social media, which is particularly true if you’re a digital company with no physical office or storefront and limited face-to-face time.
Author Charles Bukowski once said that you’ve got to passionately love what you do. If you don’t love it, you’ve got to go and find something you do love. His reasoning was that unless you’re madly in love with your work, your work suffers. The same rule applies to you. It’s not a reasonable for you to expect to create a positive customer experience unless you’re passionate about what you do. Without passion, that dulled begrudging enthusiasm seeps through to the other end of the line.
Creating a great customer experience all comes down to the details. It’s a question of being able to do the little things in a client’s life, outside of standard business practices, that helps create a connection between you, your company, and your client. It’s about stepping outside of the marketing wall and coming face to face with the people that make your business happen…and getting to know those people intimately. At the end of the day, your clients will love the great work you do, but you want them to also love the great people your company is comprised of.