Five simple steps for great client service.
Serving clients well. That’s what we strive to do on each project we are involved in at Interstates. If we can successfully provide our clients with great service, we’ll have customers who enjoy working with us, we’ll be making a difference in their business, and ultimately, be building relationships with clients that last a lifetime.
To reach these goals we’ve asked ourselves what we can do to set ourselves apart. Technically, the competition can do what we do. However, creating a superior client service experience is where we can differentiate ourselves from other firms out there. In their book Clientship: Building Client Service Bridges to Profitability, Michael Kennedy and Steve Greenberg share five behaviors to better serve clients. These ideas have been impactful to me. They have helped shape my thinking, actions, and can help us serve clients well when we incorporate them into our routine.
The first way to serve clients well is through attention. This really boils down to understanding the needs of the client including their goals, current challenges, and making them feel like their project is our priority. An example could be providing the client with progress reports that are meaningful to them. Convey what’s been done, what’s next and what info is needed at the current stage of the project. Our tone with the client and our flexibility with calls and meetings is also a part of how we show the client attention.
The next trait to help serve clients well is accessibility. Many of our clients put a high value on their ability to reach us. This is especially true during times of crisis or high demand. An example of accessibility could be having someone available 24/7 when a new plant starts up. Another example of accessibility is exemplified by a client who refused to leave a voicemail and expected almost instant accessibility. Luckily, the client had a recognizable voice, so when she called in, the receptionist would ensure she was routed to an available team member – either at their desk or cell phone. This provided the level of service the client was seeking and has built a strong relationship between her company and ours.
Next comes responsiveness. This is adjusting to info they’ve shared or to a changing project need. An example of this could be finding out how and when the client wants to be invoiced and adjusting our internal processes at Interstates to fit the client’s need. It might be adjusting our accessibility during crucial times of the project as well.
Follow-through is the next client service behavior. Simply put, this means doing what you’ll say you’ll do —integrity. It means following through on each and every commitment you make to the client. It’s building your reputation with the client, integrity brick by integrity brick. Also, it’s proving you can be depended upon. An example of follow-through could be letting your client know the next step in his project, when he can anticipate this step to be complete and then meeting that deadline. It shows your commitment to delivering the results you’ve agreed upon.
The last client service trait to put into practice is recovery. This is the ability to quickly and satisfactorily correct a problem on the work completed for the client. Our ability and dedication to quickly adjust and make things right with the client can become an opportunity to live our core values, show we care, and let them see what Interstates is made of.
I believe living these five client service behaviors will help us focus on what’s valuable and important to our clients. It does take time and effort. Over time, however, it becomes routine – it’s what we do! Remember, client service is the key to setting us apart from other firms!
What other behaviors would you add to this list to help us focus on serving clients well at Interstates?
Keep leading the Interstates way!
Doug Post, Interstates Engineering President