Whether you’re a salesman or a business owner the way you service your clients is what will make or break you. In sales I was always amazed at how many guys would kill themselves to bring on new clients only to give them mediocre service.
It takes ten times more work to get a client then to keep one so it only makes sense to give great service. Since starting RLD I’ve been shocked at the atrocious customer service of most guys who have online businesses. I’m not trying to call anyone out because I realize most guys haven’t been through a decade of sales training so what might be obvious to me isn’t obvious to them. I just want to make sure you guys have all the tools to succeed.
In business, your client is your boss, you serve them, not the other way around. Customer service is just that, servicing clients, putting their needs above yours, in exchange you get what you want. Pride has no place in being effective.
Being succesful in business is not about being an aloof alpha male it’s about adding value and serving your customers better than everyone else. The good news is, as a business owner, you always have the option to fire your clients. When you’re an employee you can’t fire your boss or your clients. Another reason to start your own thing boys.
To understand the level of service expected of you, you first need to understand the difference between a customer and a client. A product-based business revolves around a customer who makes small, low investment purchases of your products with less of focus on a personal relationship.
Servicing your customers properly is important but the level of service is not the same as with a client-based business. A good example of a customer-based business is a blog. I sell my book at a low price point and rarely have interactions with my customers unless they have questions on the material.
In a service-based business, the client relationship is the focal part of the business. The client makes a larger, higher priced investment in you and the service you provide. In a service-based business you get paid to service your clients and your level of service is extremely important in customer retentions.
Being a freelance writer, graphic designer or programmer are examples of service-based businesses. For those of you guys with your own businesses or who are looking to start your own businesses your level of service is extremely crucial. Your service is the cornerstone of your business. The focus of this article is on service-based businesses. Here are the 8 key rules for servicing your clients:
How To Serve Your Clients
1) Never Break Rapport
As we covered in part 3, breaking rapport is the biggest sin in sales. A client can tell me the sky is black and my response is:
John, I understand what you’re saying and that’s definitely valid, with that said I think you’re a great fit for this product.
As long as their words don’t affect my revenue it doesn’t matter what they say. Your job is to serve and part of that service is to make them feel good, when they feel good they are happy with your service. This extends not just to your clients but to all your business communications. Arguing with guys on forums, in comments or anywhere else is horrible for your reputation.
Winners don’t have time to argue on the internet, with clients or with anyone in general, winners are too busy winning to get caught up in that sh*t. When you do need to contradict with someone there is a way to do that artfully, see rule number 2 below.
2) Know How To Give A Sh*t Sandwich
When a client says something you disagree with, most of the time you need to let that go and stick to the golden rule of not breaking rapport. However when their ideas threaten your revenue you need to know how to constructively reframe the situation, also known as a sh*t sandwich. This really should be done as sparingly as possible, everyone hates being contradicted and you want to piss off the people who sign your cheques as little as possible.
A sh*t sandwich, done properly is framed as good/bad/good with the sh*t or bad stuff in the middle.
“Great idea I love it, I just had an idea though, here’s another possibility ____ I think that could an awesome way to get your message across, what do you think?”
3) Be Competent
When you call your phone company and hear a voice on the end of the line stumbling over a simple greeting in English you know that call is going to be an ordeal. You’re already upset, if you had a choice you’d hang up the phone immediately and call a competitor.
Unfortunately you don’t and your phone company knows it. Your only choice is another provider with the same sh*tty service and a high friction, painful transition. Your phone company knows you’re not going to leave so they sh*t all over you by outsourcing their customer service to India. As a business owner you don’t have this luxury, chances are there are thousands of people doing what you’re doing.
Compare that to the rare occasion you accidentally get through to a fluent English speaker in your native country who is friendly and competent and it feels as if the gates of heaven open and shine their beautiful rays upon you. This is the effect you want to give every customer in your business. You want to surprise them with how effective and competent you are at handling their problems. The words “will do” and “absolutely” should be burned into your sales vocabulary, it shows your clients they have a serious, effective agent who is working quickly to solve their problem.
Let’s say you’re a contractor for example. Your client is expecting a painful experience and bad service. Your client is going to be worried about three things, one that your project won’t be finished on time, two that you’ll overcharge them and three that the work won’t be done properly.
Most contractors have a bad reputation and will underestimate the amount of time and cost of materials to get the sale. If you wanted to separate yourself you would incorporate a margin of safety into your project to make sure you finish everything on time and on budget. You would be polite, well dressed, knowledgeable and speak the language fluently.
If things are taking longer then planned then you work overtime to get things finished. From the minute you meet a potential client you show them your detailed knowledge of the product. You should be able to explain everything in perfect English as well as why your service best handles their problem. Now its gone from a potentially painful experience for the client to something their going to be excited about. In return, if you execute as promised not only will you get satisfied clients but you’ll also get referrals.
4) Manage Expectations
To be ethical and have clients refer you to their friends, you not only need to be competent but you need to manage their expectations. In business your reputation means everything so make sure your clients always know exactly what they’re getting from you.
5) Respond Quickly
When I was in sales I would make sure to respond to every client email within an hour, many times within minutes or seconds. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is if you want to keep your clients happy. Since starting this site I’ve dealt with a number of guys who are self employed and have been shocked at the response times with some guys taking days or weeks to respond. 24 hours is the maximum time frame to respond to a client or a potential business partner/relationship.
6) Never Leave Your Client Hanging
Not only do you need to respond quickly but you need to respond to every communication your clients or potential clients send whether that’s just a simple “excellent” or “will do”. Never leave a client’s communication hanging. That means the last word should always be yours acknowledging whatever agreement you’ve made or conveying your enthusiasm for that agreement. For example you could have just agreed to a meeting with a client and they respond with: “see you at 6”, you should respond with something like: “excellent, looking forward to it.” Never leave your client hanging.
7) Give More Value Than Expected
Your client should not only be surprised with the level of service you provide but also with the level of value you give. In ad sales I was always trying to get my clients free ads, access to editorials, profiles for their company directors and anything that would add value to their overall experience.
Sometimes even a small gesture without asking for anything in return is enough to keep a client. With my ebook I’ve offered unlimited consultations on any of the topics in the book for buyers because I want every customer to be a lifetime customer. I answer every email sent to me quickly and thoroughly because I want that reader to be a lifetime reader.
8) Build A Relationship
If you want to keep a client, it really helps when they like you. Many times their boss might want to switch providers but when you have a relationship they will still stay with you. All business is relationship based. Most industries offer similar companies with similar products so every edge you have to differentiate yourself helps. I can’t emphasize how important relationship building is. My entire site is based around myself and my relationship with my audience.
There you have it boys, everything I know about selling in 4 parts and 20,000 words. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. All life is sales, whether you like it or not so you might as well be great at it. So go forth, add value, solve problems, be ethical, build relationships, make money and remember the golden rule:
ALWAYS BE SELLING