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Important Insights on Serving Clients with Exceptional Customer Service

This is an excerpt from an interview from “Trust-Fueled Growth & Delegation: Unlocking Your Business Potential” when Steve Fisher was a podcast guest on Mike O’Neill. It was an excellent opportunity to talk about how business owners and C-suite executives get “unstuck” with strategic thinking, a written structured growth plan and accountability.

Mike O’Neill: Right before we hit the record button, Steve and I were comparing notes. You mentioned you got a request from a client to meet you at 10:00 PM local time, resulting in you getting up early this morning at 4:00 AM. We are recording this at 9:30. So you have already put a full day in because you had to take care of a client. 

Similarly, I had a Slack message from a client I received at 9:00 last night. It was about 6:00 PM for the client. Clients are in different time zones. And as a consultant, particularly as a corporate strategist, have you found that clients want quick answers? But there are no easy, quick answers for some of the questions they’re asking. Is that typical of the kind of request you get from clients? 

Meeting Client Expectations No Matter What

Steve Fisher: Well, let me push back on something you just said. I would say they do not necessarily want a quick answer. They want a quick response. They want an acknowledgment that you heard them. And then, yes, you want to get them an answer as efficiently as possible, but you need to make sure it is the correct answer.

And I have found most clients and their people appreciate when I respond to their requests promptly. And, if you do not have the answer at your fingertips, honestly explain to them, “I do not have an answer right now. Let me research it. I will know more this afternoon, or I will know more tomorrow morning and get back to you.” 

The number one thing to do is what you say you will do. If you commit to a deliverable, deliver it when your client expects it. If you are going to miss a deadline, make sure you contact them before it is due. 

Mike O’Neill: So, Steve, I am glad you clarified something because you said something powerful a moment ago and that is critical. This is true for everybody, especially when working with clients who want to be heard. And acknowledging their request is a form of being heard. You work with mostly business owners and key business leaders. Is being heard something that permeates in your own consulting practice? Do you see that time and time again?

Steve Fisher: Oh, yes. My clients reach out to me at all hours, as we discussed. I’ve had many of them tell me directly that one of the reasons they enjoy working with me is that I acknowledge their requests and exceptional customer service is something they appreciate.

Now, I don’t want to sound like an irritable person, but let’s face it: in today’s business world, exceptional customer service skills are no longer the norm. When you encounter a business or a person and are treated with even a modicum of competent customer service, you notice it – even subconsciously, you notice it.

And exceptional customer service is a very effective way for me to help clients grow their business. But it takes planning, training, practice and monitoring. Measuring before and periodically after new customer service processes and protocols are implemented is mission-critical to know when this business improvement makes a difference in revenue growth and churn rate for both customers and employees. I’ve even seen cases where exceptional customer service became a competitive advantage.

Which brings me to another point. The people who manage customer service need clear guidelines and training on all points of contact. Businesses today have multiple ways for customers to contact them. Chats, emails, phone calls, online form submissions, warranty claims, and RMA tracking exist. And remember social media. Depending on the industry, customer service must know how best to monitor comments for prompt, honest and courteous resolutions according to company policies.

One last thought. Anyone who is in customer-facing, sales, or customer service needs to fully understand, embrace, and practice the company’s core values. They need to be supported, acknowledged, and respected for their input for continuous improvement and efforts to deliver exceptional customer service. All of this helps to optimize the customers’ experience and positively impact your team of people.

Click now to listen to the podcast in its entirety.