When it’s reached the point where customers stay with you in spite of rather than because of the customer service you provide, it’s probably time you begin establishing a hierarchy of priorities in order that nothing is left undone, including those critical opportunities to delight your clients.
I’m a crafter, and during my visits to a chain craft store near me it has become a normal experience to find employees in sour moods. At first, I was pretty shocked at the attitudes they displayed in their customer interactions; I mean, I work at Redtail where we strive to make our customers raving fans. But, as I crafted more and went back to the store frequently, I made it my personal mission to turn the employees’ days around. I would be overly happy, smile, and thank them profusely, all in hopes of spreading a good attitude. But nothing seemed to work.
Every time, the culture at this store was so toxic, and I typically left in a bad mood as well, despite my intention to brighten theirs. My craft shopping became a chore that I dreaded. Unfortunately, there are no other stores close to me that carry the same products, and ordering online is usually not an option due to the desire for specific fabric or materials, or an immediate need for tools, etc.
Much to my surprise on a recent trip to The Dreaded Craft Store, I had a perfectly normal experience. Unlike other times, there were no mistakes, no mispriced items, and, while employees were not overly kind in any way, no signs of the rude behavior I had come to expect. This time I left the store delighted!
And then . . . I thought about it. Should I have been delighted just because they hadn’t ruined my morning? A basic service can be found most anywhere, but clients generally have options. I was giving up an expectation of courteous service for convenience. Are your clients doing the same? And will they continue to do so if there are other options that are just as convenient?
Yes, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Yes, many families, businesses, and communities have been adversely affected. However, is it possible that service standards may have declined in some instances due to excuses that staff is “adapting to these uncertain times”, “making adjustments to unprecedented events”, etc.? Has your office perhaps engaged in any of these excuses to explain away an increase in mistakes, delayed projects, etc.? If so, one possible solution to get everyone back on track is to eat a frog.
I’m not joking – they are delicious! Boil them, bake them, drop them in a deep fryer, or whatever your preference may be – go for it!
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” ~Mark Twain
Mark Twain devised this metaphor of “eating a frog” to demonstrate the importance of prioritizing tasks and breaking down projects into bite-sized pieces to make them more manageable. The gist of his witticism was that if it’s your job to perform a task that you have no motivation to do, then it is best to perform that task first thing – then you can know that the worst is behind you. So, which of the many tasks on your plate look like, taste like, or hop around elusively like frogs? Tackle those first! Easier said than done, right?
Let’s break it down even further. Looking at all the tasks on your team’s to-do list, which of them are absolutely essential to the operation of the business? Account openings, trades, annual reviews, renewing business licenses, compliance documentation, broker dealer requirements, and so on. Those are some big frogs! Better consume them first.
Next, which of the items are “customer service” related. These are the things that are “nice to have” and provide a basic client experience. This may include appointment reminders, thank you cards, birthday cards, personal touch phone calls or check ins, and more. Eat the big frogs first, but make sure all of these items are taken care of as well.
Lastly, what are your firm’s opportunities to delight? Thanksgiving is approaching and many households will not be celebrating in a traditional way. What can your firm do to delight clients around this time of year? Maybe you are going all out with supporting a local bakery with pie orders to be delivered to clients. Or doing something as simple as emailing a recipe to all business contacts. Perhaps you’re recording a video of yourself cooking a family recipe and sending the YouTube link to clients. Opportunities to delight abound, but you’ll never get to them if you’re still procrastinating about the items you should have taken care of to begin your day.
Yes, most of my ideas revolve around actual recipes; your recipe for delighting clients may not involve food in any way. Regardless, this is the time of year, either literally or figuratively, to dust off those baking pans and fire up the oven; bonus points if your recipe includes frogs in the ingredients list.