Are you all about the customer? Do you read customer service horror stories and swear “That will NEVER be me!” or “I’d never do that!”?
That’s a good attitude. Admirable even. Except for one little thing.
You’re not focusing on the customer, you’re focusing on yourself.
Let’s read those two statements again. That will never be *ME*. The customer isn’t even referenced, it’s all about you. Same thing in the second sentence. *I* would never do that!
See how quickly the focus switches from your customer to you?
Don’t lose your customer focus or profits are sure to follow.
This post is part of the monthly Word Carnival extravaganza, made up of a merry band of small biz experts. This month we are tackling Service in Business.
Not Everyone Loves Coffee
This statement may shock you (it still surprises me on a regular basis), but it’s absolutely true.
Me? I LOVE coffee. Coffee and I can trace our love affair back to my college days. Our relationship is stronger than ever, especially after I discovered certified fair trade, organic coffee. Forget save the cheerleader save the world. I’m saving the world one cup of joe at a time.
And how does this information help you, or your business? It doesn’t, and there’s the problem.
I’m focusing on me, my likes, and what I consider a perk. Not everyone likes what you like, even your favorite customer who pays early, and tells all their colleagues they should hire you.
Let’s say I discover a new local roaster of fair trade coffee. Their Ethiopian blend rocks and I decide to share it with my top client. Out of the blue, just to say thanks. Sounds great, except they hate coffee. Maybe they’re even allergic. My gift becomes a stark reminder of what I don’t know about them.
Not sure what your clients consider great service? What refreshments they prefer? What their interests are outside of work? ASK!
Still stuck? I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Deb Brown owner of Touch Your Client’s Heart. She offers a service to help you identify unique gifts and customer appreciation ideas that fit within your budget. I’m always amazed at what she can find, recommend, and if you need it, will implement.
Egos are Expensive – Check Yours at the Door
Ok, you’ve spent the time to understand what your client needs to feel appreciated. You’ve put the effort into delivering on that need. Now you want to feel the love.
Stop! The Warm Fuzzies are for your client, not you.
turkey coffee here. If I go into an establishment and there is free coffee (even bad coffee) it gives me a warm fuzzy. If it tastes better than jet fuel or tar I’m feeling the love. Unless…
They won’t stop talking about the fact they offer free coffee. Aren’t we great! We care about you, and we’re going to prove it with free coffee. Our competitors don’t give you free coffee. Did you have the free coffee?
By the time you leave you’re ready to throw the free coffee at them and never return.
The brilliant idea you had to show appreciation by offering free coffee has turned your clients into a fleeing mob. Check your ego and focus on the customer.
Even Octopuses Can’t Do Everything
You’ve done the research, you’ve sent your ego to Florida for the winter, and you’re ready to truly serve your customer.
You’ve got high end coffee, flavored creamers, a variety of sweeteners and a determination to personally make fresh coffee every hour.
Hmmm… maybe you should grind the coffee beans fresh right before you make it. Some of those creamers taste artificial, perhaps you should create your own, homemade version. Honey is a great sweetener, but there’s nothing local available. How hard could it be to start your own hive and harvest it?
Hold up there! Yes you want to show your appreciation, but that doesn’t mean you need to personally handle every detail. Even if you have 8 arms like Olivia (our octopus mascot) you’d still never be able to do everything yourself.
In a way this is your ego reasserting itself. Ok I can’t take credit for it publicly, but *I* need to be the one who does everything. Nope. Create a plan, train your people (or outside contracted resources), and empower them to make the customer happy.
Your time is optimized, your staff and third party resources have a sense of team and trust, and your client gets to experience an organization where everyone follows through on the customer service.
Any self-serving customer “service” stories to share? Stuck for ideas? Resources?
Or perhaps you have some feedback for me. How can I make your experience here better? Would you rather if I talk about Chai Lattes next time? Dark chocolate? Roast Targ?
Thanks for introducing us to Deb Brown. I’m headed over there now to check out her biz. We definitely need to spend more time thinking about our customers and their experiences with us. Details SO make a difference.
Deb rocks, I’m glad to have connected you. Tea its one thing I’ve noticed about you, you remember those details.
Nicole, You are right on target! Yes, you need to make it about the client, not about you. And – bragging about your great customer service makes it about you and not about them. And – FYI – I don’t like coffee. 🙂
I will be sure to remember you don’t like coffee Deb, however I KNOW you love chocolate. I remember when we first met you planned an end of conference “chocolate hour” at your table. Brilliant and yummy.
This is great, Nicole. It’s so true that we do a lot of things out of our own ego. Nobody wants to be beaten over the head with how great you are and what great service you provide. Just do it. Or as you also said, let someone else do it! I have a hard time letting go of tasks because yes, I want to be the one to do it! And get the praise for it! But that is so unproductive and ultimately a customer’s experience is with the total of your business and brand, not just the things you claim credit for.
Yeah that can be hard for me. Especially if it’s something I think is really inspired or especially thoughtful. Throw in my extroverted nature and wow it can be hard.
Great post. Now if you offer the *unique* thing you’ve learned your client/customer enjoys, that’s a very powerful connector!
Thanks for stopping by Jeannie. That unique thing as both an offering and a thank you will absolutely seal the deal.
Fellow coffee lover here. But I also love tea. I guess that makes me some kind of weirdo but I don’t care. I prefer coffee during the day and tea in the evening. Go figure.
My beverage preferences aside …
I refuse to do business with big-headed braggarts (you know, the ones who keep mentioning their “free coffee”). Or, for that matter, salespeople who follow me around the store when I’m trying to shop for something. Plus they keep asking me if I’m finding everything okay. Maybe some customers like that kind of approach but I find it a huge annoyance. I avoid stores like that.
As a business owner, it’s sometimes hard to remove yourself from the equation and who doesn’t like to toot their own horn once in a while, right? BUT … the name of the game is “service”. And being of service means bending over backward, if need be, to make your clients and customers happy and keep them coming back for more.
Your post reminds me of first dates, Nicole. Have you ever gone out with someone for the first time and all they do is talk about themselves? It’s pretty icky. At some point, you tune them out. Their lips are moving but you’re no longer listening. Needless to say, there won’t be a second date!
I’ll join you in that club, I love tea also. Both strong jasmine as well as those that are technically called tisanes (herbal with no caffeine). On cold winter nights I love to brew up a strong fruity tea and read a book.
The first date analogy is spot on.
Truth! I actually regularly utilize my business name as a filter, and you actually helped me conceive of the Public Service Announcements as a “velvet rope” which keep folks who don’t ‘get me’ far, far away.
As WTF Marketing gets more and more focused, we’ve started asking better questions, too – questions that allow us to understand our clients better and their needs, their likes, and their dislikes. It’s improved our relationships, our communication abilities, and our flexibility with clients.
Along your note about the free coffee – the little, seemingly insignificant details are often the thing that determine trust, loyalty, etc. So that you have honey or stevia alongside average joe sugar can be a big deal to the right kind of person – if that person is your ideal client, you’d better have honey! Nitpicking can be totally detrimental, too – if you overanalyze and focus on the wrong bit of jargon or even misinterpret the client’s jargon, you can totally miss the mark when it comes to delivering the right service.
Great post as always! 😀
It’s funny you mention your name Nick. I was at a conference last week and brought up your biz name after meeting someone with a company called “BTW”. I shared your company name and everyone at the table laughed. When they realized you meant for it to be what most people think everyone wanted your URL. And I could see each one of them as being potential clients.
The point about which details to focus on (nits to pick) is spot on. If your customer really wants organic, locally harvested honey, then it better be there.
Yep, I’m the 1%–the one who doesn’t drink coffee or wine, who is afraid of dogs and allergic to cats. People think I’m the biggest oddball on the planet.
So I take all of the gifts that people share with me and share them with others, my “wine-o” friends get lovely bottles that they enjoy, and my cup of joe lovers earn a secret blend from some place exotic. It’s not re-gifting, it’s sharing.
And even though I may not be fan of the original gift, it’s the spirit of giving that make me really happy, I’m pleased that they thought of me and reached out.
Although I haven’t done any scientific studies, I think you may be correct in that 1%. Usually people like one of those. What about chocolate? That’s my personal trifecta with edibles – coffee, wine and chocolate.
Leaving the ego out is best, for sure, Nicole. Of course, as a ghostwriter, clients often ask if I’m happy for them to take the credit. My answer’s usually yes. Also love the idea of outsourcing, but training people to deliver the standard of service you’re known for.
That’s a great point about burying your ego with ghost writing. I hadn’t considered it, and not sure if I personally could do it. Regarding outsourcing – I’m VERY picky about who I’ll work with. They also go through a long trial period. They are representing me and my business. Done well they can help you do more, for more people.
Love this Nicole…I L O V E coffee…I must have it day and at night. It does take time to learn the details about a client and what a simple concept – ask questions. I know I have not always done that part of my own issues, but I have gotten much better with that. Now I need to check out the person you recommended and do better with showing my appreciation…I appreciate your suggestion!
Virtual fist bump for coffee lovers! Deb’s services have great range, you can even hire her to do a live call and brainstorm lots of ideas. Then you have the option to implement yourself or hire her. I was at a conference last week that she helped organize (theme was unlocking success). For the keynote speaker she found this gorgeous combination lock necklace. Instead of numbers on the lock there were beautiful crystals.
First, I am a total coffee lover. AND I love love Organic coffee. Right now I am addicted to one from Whole Foods called Allegro. I really have to refrain myself from having more than one cup a day. 🙂
I want to add that being genuinely grateful for every single client helps leave that ego at the door and the warm fuzzies for them. I have had a wonderful experience with many clients; I have built long-term relationships and although I offer them a service, they have all had something to give back to me, whether they know it or not, and that has made me grateful.
I can say I have to do a better job at learning the likes and dislikes of my clients, but because I am grateful I do make an effort to show my appreciation with simple things like sending a card in the mail with a free gift card for coffee (umm… I may have to rethink this one now LOL) or giving a small discount on their invoice.
Anyhow, thanks for sharing the post Nicole! I too will be stopping by Deb’s site.
I’m going to have to try that coffee – Allegro. Sounds yummy!
As a long term client of yours I can say with confidence you do make your clients feel appreciated. And there is nothing inherently wrong with a gift card to a coffee place like Starbucks. They usually offer tea, chai, steamed milk, snacks and more. Even my friends who hate coffee enjoy a trip to these places with me.
You and Deb should definitely connect, I could see your businesses being very complementary.
Sometimes, I feel that I am being stalked by some shop assistants they get so close to me. At one time, I had a shop assistant open the curtain whilst I was in a state of undress when I was attempting to try on a new outfit. I changed back into my old clothes and left the outfit where it was after not receiving an apology from the assistant.
Had a managing director tell me that the company had been in business for 35 years. How long had the same company been manufacturing aluminium doors without having a licence to do so?
Oooh I hate the customer service stalkers. I would have complained strongly to the manager on duty about the dressing room.
Was the MD of an aluminum door company also selling clothes? That would be weird.
The MD was not selling clothes. However, I did have cause to report him and the applicable business to my state’s consumer affairs department on numerous occasions.