5 Ideas for Client Engagement
No one wants to be replaced, as a company or a person, and having remarkable client engagement that eclipses that of your competitors makes you hard to replace. Once we differentiate ourselves we become difficult to switch out with other companies that do the same thing that we do. The best part about delivering this intangible value to clients is that it is fairly low cost or no cost, but essential to success.
There is no better example of this that comes to mind than with Southwest Airlines and how they interact when you are face to face. They are masters at delivering really distinctive customer service, in spite of also being known to provide low cost air fares. Southwest allows their people to utilize humor and interact with customers in a friendly and genuine way that is hard not to like. The cost to Southwest is small and yet has contributed to year over year profitability that is the envy of the airline industry. While many airlines are struggling to find consistent profitability, Southwest Airlines consistently outperforms their competitors… and one of the major contributors to profitability is the client engagement their people deliver at every level.
Below are 5 Ideas for stunning client engagement, many of which you see present in the Southwest example above.
1st – People Win One important key to great customer service is simply great people who have a deep belief in who you are as an organization. Allow the authentic personality of your staff to come through to your clients, combined with their natural talent, and we have a winning combination. We all appreciate a bit of humor, and genuine concern when you are working together is always a plus. Train your recruiting staff to profile and quickly identify the traits you are looking for to determine who you are going to have interacting with your clients.
2nd – Training Matters Once you have the right person hired and in the right seat on the bus [borrowing Jim Collins' expression], we then need to immerse them in training that equips them and gives them the foundation needed to interact well with each and every client. Let’s also be sure to avoid over scripting, so as not to appear robotic and cold in our conversation with clients. Give people the training they need and let them apply what they have learned, and have it filtered through their individual personality so authenticity and concern come through in every client interaction.
3rd – Start with Yes When engaging clients we should consider starting with a “yes” and go from there. This doesn’t mean every answer is a "yes," rather it is a mindset, that we begin our thoughts with a "yes" and find a solution that possibly ends in a "yes" for our clients. Clients appreciate our efforts to get things done for them and it will go a long way toward building a long term client relationship when they know we are working toward a "yes" when possible.
4th – Map the Client Experience Clients will follow a path through our organizations from cradle to grave. I would like to suggest you map the client experience from their first exposure to your company to the final conversation. Clients only have a small peep hole that they view us through so we have to be extremely diligent to control what clients experience as they work with us. From how we represent ourselves digitally on social media, to what we have written on invoices… including those ever important face to face opportunities such as trade shows.
5th – No “Shuffleboard” We have all experienced being shuffled around to different departments as we try to get a problem resolved or as we try to make a purchase. Not fun [insert sigh here!]. Have the fewest number of people dealing with a client as possible and you will see client results improve.
Inspiring Quote of the Day: "Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."-- Winston S. Churchill