To me, almost nothing is more inviting than a smile when you walk in the door. Well, that is, until I realized free falafel was an option. While meeting Aaron for our monthly lunch date, we chose a new restaurant that had opened up across the street from where he works. It was quick, casual, and Mediterranean so really what could go wrong? Thankfully, nothing. That’s right, finally a positive client care story to share!
A Great Company is a Great Community
When you walk in, the employees immediately notice you, welcome you, share a smile, and then offer a free falafel! Even a sign stated,”Have a falafel sample on us. If we don’t offer it, please feel free to ask.” But we didn’t need to. Because their employees knew exactly what to do, every time, and they do it.
The entire experience from beginning to end was like being served by friends we’d just never met yet. There were a couple mistakes made by someone who wasn’t used to serving up front, but the mistakes were handled exactly as they should be. Her coworker gently let her know, she apologized to him and to me, and then they just laughed and moved on. It was like being brought into their little community, and they were happy to have us.
And on the wall, their guarantee “We encourage you to try new food and flavors. But if you’d don’t like what you chose, no problem. Just let us know and we’ll refund your money, provide you with a different food option, or both.” They understand client care. And they make it their business. Great hummus and falafel is only one half of their equation. Great service is the other.
Great Client Care Needs a Plan
When a company delivers spectacular client care, it’s never an accident. It’s been planned out, continually managed and improved upon, and repeatedly shared with employees and customers in a way that’s appropriate for their business. What can we give away? Falafel. What can you as a designer give away? Maybe a free 30 minute get to know you meeting (where no designs are shared). What can we guarantee? That you’ll like your food or your money back. What can you as a designer guarantee? That your design will finish on time. Or that you won’t go outside of the budget. Or that you’ll provide them with 3 full design revisions. Or whatever you think is appropriate.
When a company is willing to plaster the fact that they give great client care in big letters on their website, on their walls, on their brochures, on their to – go boxes, on their business cards, and everything else, they do. Because when they share something that often, it’s something they’re proud of. It permeates every part of their business. From the top to the bottom, and from the bottom to the top. And you see it in action, with the quality and presentation of the product or service, in the facial expressions of employees, and with your personal interactions. With every thing they do, there has been a plan. And the plan has been carried out.
Some Great Client Care is Just an Accident
When client care isn’t planned, you occasionally are lucky enough to have a great client care “accident.” What’s that you may wonder? You accidentally receive great client care? Basically. Ever been to a business for the first time, and the person you work with is really spectacular? And unknowingly, you assume, this company is awesome. And then the next time you come back, you work with someone else, and have a really crappy experience? That’s called a client care accident.
The spectacular client care had nothing to do with the business that you were working with. It only had to do with that one person you accidentally happened upon. And once you realize that, it’s a pretty deflating moment. You got your hopes up that this new place was really awesome, and lo and behold, it was not. It was just that one person who was awesome. And now they’re gone…. And you wonder if you can ask the crappy business where they went, so you can follow them to their new place of business.
Know How to Make Your Customers Happy
So plan your client care, make it routine, make it standardized, make it known. When you do, your whole business will shift. You become “that business” that everyone wants to work with. Because you do what you say (which is rare), and what you said was, “I know what needs to be done to make sure you enjoy your time with us.” Nothing is more comforting for a customer, than knowing that a business knows what to do to take care of them. Knowing that you’ve got their back. That somehow, even though you’ve never met before, the business knows exactly what you want, and can and will provide it for you.
Giving a 5 figure check to someone they barely know to get furniture, curtains, and accessories in six months is not exactly relaxing. But every time you show that customer that you have a plan, and will work that plan, the customer’s anxiety drops a little. Every time you reply to their calls and emails in a timely manner. Every time you hunt down that impossible to find fabric they showed you. Every time you figure out how to incorporate that “really doesn’t match anything else” antique that Grandma gave them. Every time you right a wrong with a bad vendor. They realize that you’re there to take care of them. And they don’t need to find anyone else.
If you’d like help creating a spectacular client care plan, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how!