Customer service, while an important part of any sales relationship, is not enough. There was a time when "servicing" the customer was all it took to create loyalty. Today, no matter how close you are to your customer, or whether they have told you or not, the expectations have changed.
In order to create an exceptional experience today, there are several things to remember. Your customer is smarter and more demanding than at any other time in our economy’s history. Customers don't care about your years of experience; they don't care about your fancy tools, and they don’t care how long you've been around unless it matters to them in real and tangible ways. They care about how you are going to create an exceptional experience centered on them.
We can deliver the right service, at the right time, and still not have dealt with the issues outlined above. So, what are the keys to leveraging relationships such that you create a clear and compelling sense of differentiation and increased market share? Several things: First, get clarity about the real issues your customers are facing; second, specifically connect your years of experience; the features you offer, etc., to their specific problems; and finally, continually follow up with your customers to assess the effectiveness of your solution.
In a highly competitive marketplace, relationships and service cannot be your only differentiator. In the world where you work, you must understand that creating exceptional client-centered relationships is the key to sustainability. You must trust that the customer/client knows best, and it is your job to show them you realize that and then add what you know to build a compelling experience.
I am not suggesting that service isn't important. I am imploring you to understand that service isn't enough -- it is simply the ticket to get in the door.
Some years ago, we in the U.S. shifted from a service-based economy to an experience-based economy. Subtly and without notice, consumers (including you) began to shift their expectations. They shifted from an expectation of service to one of how the total experience leaves them feeling. More money was spent in 2008 on customer-service training than on any other type of training, with the exception of leadership training. And yet have you noticed how utterly pathetic service continues to be in most segments of the marketplace? This is because most do not understand what customers really need. Here's what they must experience:
1. They need to feel like they matter: Customers/clients must get the impression that they are the most important. More important than you, your schedule, or your talent and skill. This feeling of significance must be centered on what they have identified as the most important things to them in the buying experience.
2. They must feel certain: They must have confidence in you, the process and, most importantly, the decision they have made to buy your product. They must feel certain that you are the one for the job.
3. They must get a sense that they are better off or their circumstances are enhanced: All clients have to get the sense that their relationship with you has made their life better, easier, less complex, etc. Your job is to remove pain from them using your skill and knowledge. You can only do that when you have asked the right questions to source for what they have identified as pain.
4. The experience must differentiate you from your competition: What are you doing every day to differentiate yourself?
5. They must sense that you are genuinely interested in them: Ask more questions. Be more interested in understanding than in being understood.
Mike Staver is CEO of the Staver Group. Together with his colleagues, he provides keynote presentations, consulting programs, workshops and executive coaching sessions that help people lead with courage and authenticity. Staver presented the keynote address at Northstar’s Destination California hosted-buyer event at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort, provided by Goodman Speakers Bureau. To learn more about booking Mike, contact Diane Goodman at [email protected] or call (860) 580-7040.