The universe is talking to me. In my email this morning there were three messages all addressing the same concept... how are you talking to your clients. No, the headlines didn't all come right out and say it, although one did. Cordel Parvin's What Should You Never Say To A Client? Seth Godin's, The Only Purpose Of Customer Service and Copyblogger's, The Civility Manifesto.
My friend Cordell and I have the same pet peeve... and I didn't know, but of course I should have. When anyone in your firm tells a client "No problem." In most cases the individual is trying to be nice, but that isn't a powerful way to be nice. Here is what Cordell has to say about it...
"When a client has thanked you, have you ever responded: 'No problem?'
Which of those two words do you think the client heard most clearly? What did the client think when hearing “no problem?” At best the client likely thought there was almost a problem. At worst the client thought it was a problem for you to help the client."
My alternative is to say... "It's my pleasure!" And to say it like you mean it. Not like the obligatory... "How are you?" "Fine, thank you." I would also like to point out that this is the perfect time to add... "It's my pleasure, and if there is anyone else in the firm needing help, please don't hesitate to call." It's my pleasure makes a great segue to ASK for more work without feeling or sounding pushy.
Now for Seth Godin, he points out...
"The only purpose of customer service is to change feelings. Not the facts, but the way your customer feels.
The best measurement of customer support is whether, after the interaction, the customer would recommend you to a friend. Time on the line, refunds given or the facts of the case are irrelevant. The feelings are all that matter, and changing feelings takes humanity and connection, not cash."
How many times has a client's matter not gone as well as you or he would have liked, but his praises flowed anyway? THAT is what Seth is talking about. The feeling you left in the heart and mind of your client. That is what will ensure referrals. Not necessarily the outcome.
Lastly, I thought the post on Copyblogger gets to the heart of the matter... and that is the way we speak to and about each other. Sonia Simone is suggesting that the internet have a code of conduct. Being civil is the beginning. You seldom need anyone to tell you that you were rude... you know it. The question is do you strive to correct the behavior or do you wear it like a badge? How do you want to be perceived? The person who is a bully or the person who gets the job done in a civil manner?
All three posts urge us to think. Think about how someone may interpret what you say and how you want him or her to feel about the interaction they have with you. Let us not forget... raving fans are what gets you referrals and are the lifeblood of building a book of business. The choice is yours.