Welcome to part one of the five-part crash course. We’ll be giving you some savvy insights on how to turn your company’s clients into your most active promoters. Let’s start with the basics: What constitutes a satisfied client?
Frankly, the formula for satisfaction is quite simple
Satisfaction = Perception - Expectation. This difference between perception and expectation determines whether you have:
A disappointed client (perception < expectation)
A satisfied client (perception = expectation)
A loyal client (perception > expectation)
The reason I dwell on this fact is that we seem to be accustomed to receiving low service levels. More often than not, we find ourselves pleasantly surprised when service is not too bad. The positive implication for you as a company is that it shouldn’t be too hard to make an initial difference on this level. Which is great news. However, important to keep in mind is that clients will quickly get used to your higher standards of service, challenging you to keep innovating yourself. Vital in this process is to stay closely connected to your clients in order to listen to them, constantly remaining one step ahead of them.
The script theory
This sounds like a tiring process. It does not necessarily have to be so though. Allow me to share with you the ideas behind the ‘script theory’: When it comes to service, clients tend to think in routine processes that suggest a natural flow of things. This script thinking greatly influences what they notice, what they think and what they will remember. Rest assured that this can greatly be used to your advantage in your search for the magical wow-effect.
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From script to wow
Clients under the spell of the wow-effect, pause for a moment, their hearts beat a bit faster, and they’re bound to be using words like oh and wow. The wow-effect is a vital ingredient to fostering loyal business clients. So how exactly DO you create this wow-effect. There are a number of ways you can go about this:
Surprise! Surprise happens when you positively deviate from clients’ scripts and expectations. People often tend to think that this comes with high costs, however it can already be achieved with something small. Being thoughtful appears to have a more lasting impact on a client experience than just giving away something costly.
Reverse Thinking: Think of the experience you want your client to have with your company. Try to keep your reasoning clear from internal processes and operating systems: I am afraid I do not have that authority or Unfortunately our operating system is not built for that or Yes of course I understand, but if we would do that for everyone…. Just because you may be dealing with some sticky processes backstage, doesn’t mean your client also has to deal with them.
Realize that your employees make the difference between satisfied clients and loyal clients; make them understand the extent of their impact on a client’s experience. The rule that applies here is: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
In a world of shaky customer service, in which products and services appear to promise more than they can actually live up to, it is often enough to subtly exceed client’s expectations. By adding something special to your service, something that makes you stand out from your competitors and that indicates you value your business collaboration, will reinforce the experience of your business client and strengthens your brand as a whole.
Beware of the rat race
Of course you shouldn’t start pricing yourself out of the market; clients after all tend to get used to that higher level. So, make sure you do not get caught up in a rat race from which you will have to pull back eventually. Therefore, to be a company with loyal clients depends on your ability to brew the right mix of creativity and innovativeness to find new ways to approach and treat your business clients. It does not always have to cost a lot of money: Present excellent client satisfaction as something special, so that clients won’t perceive it as normal and start to add it to their scripts. Be inconsistently surprising.
Over the next two weeks I will help you dive a bit deeper into the matter by giving you some useful tips on how to walk the road from satisfied clients to loyal clients. In addition I shall demonstrate the importance of retaining your existing clients and how word of mouth advertising is the best you could possibly have, unlocking your company’s potential by serving as a catalyst for growth.
We’ll see each other soon again!