The Coach's Corner

Archive for the ‘Extraordinary Customer/Client Service’ Category

Are Your Clients/Customers Raving Fans?

April 9th, 2018 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I am a fanatic about client/customer service, and I’ve written on the subject many times. Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles, in their book Raving Fans! A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service, have provided a new label that I love: RAVING FANS. Like a few other business authors, they’ve styled the book as a novel, in order to make their point.

Blanchard — well known for his book, The One Minute Manager — and his co-author suggest defining what Raving Fans means to your business by determining your response to two statements. These declarations are simple but profound.

Declaration #1:  Decide What You Want

This may sound trite, but business owners often struggle in trying to describe what they want in a few simple words. The authors provide some practical stories which will help you craft your company’s declaration.

(Note: This is the do-not-say-you-can-do-everything-for-everyone concept.)

Declaration #2: Discover What the Client/Customer Wants

Again, the authors offer some excellent examples to help you complete your declaration.

As I was reading Raving Fans, I thought of a famous 1993 article written by Harvard professor David Maister: Quality Work Doesn’t Mean Quality Service. In my experience, this is a very common problem. I would summarize it by saying, “Don’t assume you know what your client/customer wants.” Here’s a great story to make the point:

One of my clients went on a sales call with a new business development associate. They met with the business owner, who described what he was looking for and provided his budget. The associate developed a solution for the client that was within the budget he had been provided. When the associate met with his boss (my client) to share his proposal, the boss said, “That’s not what the client wants,” and he proceeded to describe what he believed the client really wanted. The associate replied, “That’s double the budget!” My client suggested to the associate that he present both solutions to the prospective client — and, you guessed it, the business owner selected the higher-priced solution. My client, who’s been in business for more than 30 years, really listens to his clients.

Do you know what you want and what your client/customer wants?

What is One of the Hardest Jobs to Perform Today?

May 22nd, 2017 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

According to a Harvard Business Review article entitled Kick-A__ Customer Service — Consumers Want Results — Not Sympathy, 81 percent of customers across all industries attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative. The investment in self-service technologies has been enormously effective at removing low-complexity issues from the live service queue. According to the article’s authors, 84 percent of customers prefer a straightforward solution to their problem. When they do call for assistance, they’re knowledgeable and very demanding.

The authors conclude that customer service representatives fall into seven profiles, which they outline in the article. The big “aha” is focused around two profile types: Empathizers, who enjoy solving others’ problems, seek to understand behaviors and motives, and listen sympathetically; and Controllers, who are outspoken and opinionated, and like demonstrating their expertise and directing the customer interaction.

Intuitively, I would think Empathizers would be the best reps — and so do customer service rep managers, since Empathizers represent 32 percent of all representatives (the largest category). As it turns out, we’re wrong! The trouble is, the messaging managers use in recruiting service reps is often stereotypical of yesterday’s customer service workers, and tends to repel rather than attract Controllers, who represent only 15 percent of all reps. Controllers want flexibility to express their personality and handle issues as they think best (versus following a script), are keen problem-solvers with a unique ability to think on their feet, and are self-starters who are comfortable taking the initiative.

If you’re part of a company that provides customer service reps who assist clients by phone (and probably face-to-face, too), I would highly recommend reading the HBR article. Our old, well-established “best practices” no longer work in this tech-savvy world.

By the way, according to the authors’ research, the best reps, Controllers, are paid the same as other reps and are satisfied with it.

Let’s Stop Arguing About What to Call It

March 6th, 2017 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

How about if we call “it” obtaining a new client (customer)? As you know, Uncle Dan very generously shared his wisdom with us in the “Sandbox Hunter’s Game Plan” blog series, summarized in the January 19, 2016 Food for ThoughtIn this blog, I would like to focus on obtaining new clients for professional services. I believe most of the comments would apply to any service or product, but for purposes of clarity, let’s focus on “professional services,” which I will allow you to define.

If you Google sales, marketing, and/or business development, you’ll discover all kinds of definitions the authors of various articles and books are passionate about. The reason I’m commenting is because of the ambiguity that exists in many companies. I would suggest there are three major functions necessary to secure a new client (customer):

  1. Finding (This isn’t my own term; I got this word from a guy in my networking group) — Finding is the process of identifying a prospective client. You might use an outside resource/service, have someone internally perform this function, your Hunter may be responsible, or possibly it’s the result of a combination of tactics. Question: Is how you obtain qualified leads and who is responsible for finding leads clear to both you and your team? Do you have enough leads? If no, why not?
  2. Relationship — Often, this is the hardest part, but the goal is to get a new client. This may take a period of a few weeks or a few years. I’m aware of situations where this period lasted for more than 20 years (sorry, I have to tell the truth). Again, I think Uncle Dan gave us great advice and tips. This is where the great Hunters excel. They introduce the prospective client to their colleagues, especially those who can offer industry insights and what is called “thought leadership” (simply stated, they say, “If I owned this company, I would do this or that to profitably grow the business.”). I strongly believe that personalized contacts are more important today than they’ve ever been. I’m not talking about mass emails, webinars, podcasts, et cetera. I’m talking about face-to-face, voice-to-voice, and handwritten notes. Question: Do you have people who can truly develop new relationships and transform them into clients? (By the way, I have met people who know a lot of prominent executives, but can’t convert them into clients. How many new clients do you have this year? Last year?)
  3. Closing — This is getting the ball over the goal line, or ringing the bell — whatever you want to call it. Again, Hunters are best in class at closing, and Uncle Dan provided some thoughts on this function, too. Question: What is your close rate? Could it be higher? How? Do you really have the right people involved in the close?

Would You Recommend it to Your Mom?

February 20th, 2017 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In my September 19, 2016, blog post, I told a story about an auto dealership’s customer service representative who behaved more like an owner. Well, now I have another story about that service representative, Chad. Barbara and I took our vehicle in because of some issues we were concerned about. During our time with Chad, he said, “I always try to treat the vehicle owner like my mother. In other words, what would I do if it were my mother?”

His comments triggered a fond memory for me. My dad spent his career as a mail carrier. With a little encouragement and mentoring, who knows what he could have done? But he was proud of his accomplishments, and he was a wise man with an extra dose of common sense.

Anyway, when Chad made his comment, it reminded me of the lens I have always used with my clients. If they (the client) were my dad, would I make this or that recommendation? It has been like a speed controller on a school bus, and it’s helped me “do the right thing.”

Chad, thanks for the reminder and for being a wonderful example of excellent client focus.

All Lives Have Equal Value

December 19th, 2016 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In the past year, I had the good fortune of watching an interview with Melinda Gates. WOW!!! The title of this blog is her and Bill’s mantra, and it’s what drives the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Melinda, who refers to herself as an introvert, is making an enormous impact worldwide. (By the way, she grew up in a strong, faith-based middle class home in Dallas, attended an all-girls Catholic high school, and then went to Duke and received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and an MBA.) She left Duke to join Microsoft, where she was leading a large team, but elected to leave after 10 years to be home with the couple’s three children. She was very refreshing to listen to.

In addition to caring for the children, she runs the foundation, which employs 1,400 people. Another Wow. What they do all over the world is amazing, and I’m sure overseeing such a large enterprise creates a lot of pressure and stress. However, if I were her, my biggest stress would be caused by the responsibility of appropriately utilizing Warren Buffet’s fortune, most of which has been pledged to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. That’s a Wow, Wow, Wow.

I’m sorry, I just needed to get her story out there.

So now to the business idea. When Melinda and Bill got involved with various causes, she said they were surprised to find out that very little accurate data — or even the measurement of important issues — was available. She then went on to recite a list of the data that she receives regularly and uses to determine the impact of their philanthropic investment; one example is that she gets a monthly report on the status of polio outbreaks around the world (one of Bill’s passions is to eradicate polio from the earth).

As I was listening to her, I thought of many companies whose leaders make decisions without good data. Money is spent based on anecdotal information, personal opinions, what a couple of customers said, and a myriad of other subjective sources.

If Melinda can get data on polio from some remote African village, I’m sure companies can retrieve useful data. It’s not easy, but it is possible.

Are you collecting the key data and metrics that will enable you to give your clients/customers what they “really” want, and then providing it in a profitable way?

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Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.