January 26, 2017
Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to visit the happiest place on earth. Not Amazon headquarters, but Disney World. It had been many years since my last visit and this time I’d be going as a parent, having the distinct pleasure of watching the wonder through the eyes of my children. As I’d hoped, the trip was perfect. Just what our family needed to finish out the year. Disney not only accommodated all of our needs, they seemed to anticipate needs we didn’t know we had. They thought of everything, which, for a type A person like myself, was nothing short of elating.
It also left me thinking — why is exceptional customer service such a rarity in today’s daily grind? Have we digitized, streamlined, and optimized day-to-day interaction down to a series of transactions, or can we truly bring relationship and trust back to the forefront of our everyday? How hard would it be to end the day thinking, “I have such a successful and productive relationship with my (agency, consultancy, vendor), they think of everything!” I believe, now more than ever, we need to make excellent client service a top priority.
Build Trust and Gain Loyalty
Let’s be honest, we’re all maxed out. We’ve all got an abundance of tasks and goals and are likely short-staffed and over-utilized. For a client or business partner, that may be why they’ve hired you, the expert, to help round out their expertise. The best way to keep that relationship successful is to create and facilitate a series of wins for both you and your client that build trust and gain loyalty. If your job responsibility calls for X, offer to help with Y and Z. Creating opportunities to go above and beyond builds a rapport that cannot easily be replaced.
Get in the Details
Dive into the details of your partnership and anticipate their needs before they do. Do things for your client your competitors aren’t doing through exceptional service and thought leadership. If your job is to think about your client’s business, and I’d argue that it always is, go above and beyond. Most importantly, don’t just bring them big ideas. Manage the minutiae and logistics of getting those big ideas from drawing board to delivery in flawless fashion.
Find Appropriate Opportunities to Set Boundaries
Exceptional service does not mean work in an abusive and ungrateful environment. There are plenty of moments in which saying no or even ending the relationship on either side is the right thing to do. I’d argue that setting proper boundaries ultimately helps you grow as an individual and a company. Save that energy for a relationship that is a healthy and productive one.
Here’s the thing about exceptional service — its backbone is kindness. We live in a fast-paced world with deadlines and schedules and thirty-second hallway conversations. Truthfully, that pace is not the happiest for anyone. Be kind. It’s helpful and productive because it goes a long way in creating loyal and positive relationships. Seth Godin recently had the following to say on kindness:
“Investing time and resources in extending ourselves shifts the rest of our needs in precisely the right direction, not only putting us closer to satisfying those other needs, but enjoying the journey as well.”
Exceptional customer service should not be a rarity. As professionals, let’s chart our course in the new year for going above and beyond to make our business partners feel valued, strengthen relationships, and work together towards optimum productivity and collective success.