Professionalism materializes in client service, client satisfaction, and client results.
How would you characterize the standards by which you work and that define your brand?
Are they average? Above average? High? Very high? Exemplary? Top of the field?
How do you know which category your standards fall into?
Did you design services to fit your standards or did services evolve by chance? How do you monitor them? Are you sure you are measuring the right things?
How will you know when your standards and, therefore, your brand need improvement?
- Ask most professionals and business owners about their business standards and they’ll tell you their standards are high or very high. I know because I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of professionals, entrepreneurs, executives, business owners, and advisors. No one identified their standards as less than “high.”
- Ask clients who observe these professionals up close how service could be improved and the clients have a lot of suggestions. They always insist they’d share these ideas with the professionals if they were asked. I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of these clients, and asked them what could be done to improve service and returns—and they willingly told me.
Raising your standards essentially means competing with yourself because you know you can always do more, be better.
When you already feel successful, this is a greater challenge as complacency may override constructive curiosity, particularly when you perceive the competition as already “left in the dust.”
When it comes to service, what may be a small thing to you can be a symptom of an attitude which communicates to clients a lack of service:
- If you don’t listen to a client, why should they listen to you? If you don’t respect a client’s opinion, why should they respect yours? Even if they stay with you, will they follow your suggestions? Will you receive all their business? Will they refer you?
- Clients who don’t believe that the professionals they hire respect them, may not be as open about their concerns and extenuating circumstances. They may also hold back on disclosing how well-off they are for fear of being charged more. What they don’t tell the professional could compromise results. They may make only token referrals unless they receive benefits they value, which may be genuine respect.
- If you are not from the same generation as your clients, ageism may be a factor as well. The “too young to know” and “too old to know” cross-generation reactions associated with ageism can accentuate differences of opinion and value systems. These reactions may be compounded by cultural differences and language challenges:
- Not listening to an idea may be an ageist brush-off or may be perceived as such even if it is not.
- Offering suggestions may be ageist criticism or may be perceived as such.
Recognizing exactly what you are doing and not doing, and all the implications of both, is often difficult.
That’s the invisibility of the box. Unless you hire a professional to critique you regularly, this is a task you have, consciously or unconsciously, decided to take care of yourself. How good at it are you? Mediocrity can creep in through sloppiness, poor time management skills, bad habits, insecurity, sensitivity to criticism, inflated ego, stress, and weak powers of observation.
Extreme Excellence: The New Service Model
Experience confirms that excellence in client service is simple, but that simple is not always easy.
- You simply need to raise client expectations and, thereby, differentiate your business and services from industry stereotypes and from the competition.
- Then, simply, unfailingly, deliver on more than clients expect, in ways that clients value, whatever happens—no excuses.
Your knowledge and experience enable you to fully envision what “excellence in client service” involves from the target clients’ point of view, online and off.
You’ve observed first-hand why constructive persistence is essential to consistently achieve high levels of excellence in a continually changing world. How do you put this awareness into action for clients?
Working to make yourself and services indispensable—making it all about you—so clients remain dependent on you for problem solving, leaves clients considering these services as an ongoing cost and the problems they address an ongoing worry. Clients don’t feel freed from the problem. They’ve just added the necessity of dealing with you. This fairly typical business approach could lead them to search out less expensive alternatives or worry-free service providers.
In contrast, the ultimate goal in 21st-Century Extreme Service Excellence should be to solve the problem so completely that you and your services are no longer necessary. Concentrate on doing such a thorough job for clients that you theoretically put yourself out of work, and you’ve hit excellence. That’s what your brand should consistently embody.
Aim to create independence for clients and you’ll make yourself invaluable to them. Your introduction of empowering choice for clients will make them committed to you and your services by choice:
- Their comfort with you and your services will be greater than the clients’ determination to adopt do-it-myself solutions.
- Clients feel no need to take on new responsibility and manage the situation or the problem because they have confidence in you.
- They don’t want the job of training to anticipate the problem and stopping it before it takes hold—they’ve got you.
- Clients take on some responsibility and work to reduce the problem, but they’re comfortable relying on you to fully resolve the situation and bring them peace of mind.
[Excerpt from “What’s Your Point? Cut The Crap, Hit The Mark & Stick!” — Chapter 10 Constructive Persistence & Branding]