“The Crown,” ahh, the incredibly popular, overwhelmingly amazing series that I absolutely was not interested in watching. I mean, I’ve never understood the interest in the royal family, and shows based on history are just not my thing. But, like everyone else, I got hooked, and not just because of the drama, but also because there were great business lessons to be learned, particularly around the client experience. That’s right, “The Crown” unintentionally focuses very pointedly, on delivering a seamless experience.
Is It Possible to Run Something Too Well?
How you ask? Well, by observing the roles of the royal staff. By intensely watching every action that they take, every thoughtful, every pre-planned, every expertly executed action that they take. In that house, every single person knows exactly what they should be doing, at all times. Each person is meticulously trained and re-trained, to make absolutely sure that things are carried out the way they were originally intended. It’s incredible.
I mean, can you imagine if you turned the royal family into a business and their staff into employees of that business. It’d be a client experience dream, right? It’d be the envy of all other companies and all other customers, for sure, don’t you think?
Well, not quite. And here’s why, because although the palaces, the events, and the day to day schedule of the royals are planned and executed to near perfection, it’s done with so much formality that it’s almost suffocating. And that’s what the show so beautifully displays, how the rules, regulations, and formalities start to cripple and strangle everyone that experiences or performs them, overwhelming them to the point where they just can’t take it anymore.
And so the exact same would be true if this level of formality was present within a company. The employees would implode or explode. And the clients? Well, they would leave. They would leave because every employee would be the same. They would leave because employees don’t make decisions, or think on their own, or make emotional connections, they just follow orders. And as a result, the clients would leave, en masse, to find a place where they can be human to human with a business and its employees.
Be the Sincere Professional that You Already Are
But, what if we chuck all of these fierce formalities and become fiercely friendly with our clients instead? Would that be better? Would that even be, ideal? Well, no, not really. Fiercely friendly in a professional setting can be a dangerous game. Boundaries can be crossed, expectations can be confused, professionalism can come into question. It’s really not the best case scenario when it comes to you and your business, either.
What’s the answer then, if we’re not to be overly friendly or overly formal? Well, you want to nestle yourself deep into the middle. You want your place to strongly sit between fiercely formal and fiercely friendly. You want to be “friendly formal.”
So that means being formal in your processes, formal in your systems, and formal in how you run your business. You want to regulate your meeting agendas, your project updates, and the way you dress. Every last bit of it, expertly managed and executed.
Then when you’re interacting with your client, well, still formal, but also friendly. So have real conversations, make real emotional connections, share who you are, and discover who they are, but also maintain a bit of professional distance.
Keep yourself from getting a bit too “relaxed” with your clients. Hanging out a bit too long, lounging on the couch a bit too comfortably, or sharing with your clients that you had a bit too much to drink over the weekend, it’s not the impression you want your clients to have of you. It’s a bit too loose, and even a bit too much of a focus on you.
“Friendly Formal” is Your Sweet Spot
Because really, clients do want to know you, and share with you, but they also want to see you as the professional that you are. So it’s important to help them see both. Whether that means loosening up a bit and spending a few more minutes every meeting chatting about a client’s weekend, or formalizing your interactions a bit more so clients see you as a professional rather than a pal they periodically pay, it’s an important endeavor to take on.
So this week, let’s focus on that, finding your sweet spot in “friendly formal.”
Sweetly Simplified Action: At your next client meeting, observe your interactions with your client. Are you overly friendly? Or overly formal? If so, once the meeting is over and you’re on your own, write down what you noticed and ask yourself, how might my overly formal, or friendly, nature be affecting my business? Then come up with three ways you can move yourself towards “friendly formal,” and implement accordingly.
Let me know in the comments below, have you ever hired someone who was either overly friendly, or overly formal? How did you feel about the interaction? I’d love to know!
And if you’re looking for more ways to find just the right balance with clients, then take a look at what we’ve got for you here!