As we usher out 2012 and welcome in the new year, it is the perfect time to take note of what went well and what changes we may want to make in the new year. In reading through some of my notes from over the year, I see a theme running through them. Many of my discussions centered on being memorable. So, what activities can you undertake to help make you memorable? Here is a short sampling:
- Make phone calls to talk directly to people instead of emailing or texting.
- Write personal notes to people for specific reasons such as a thank you note, to share a memory or to just touch base.
- Perform a ‘lunch and learn’ for your peers or a client.
- Join clients in their strategic planning sessions and offer to help them identify and meet goals.
- Speak at conferences and invite your clients to be on the panel with you.
- Write articles and share them through social media or other outlets.
- Attend social events and invite clients and peers to go with you.
- Begin a group that discusses a specific topic regularly.
Whatever you choose to do, always be sincere and helpful. Part of being memorable is being real. Honestly working alongside someone to accomplish a common task will always provide a memorable experience. It is up to you to make it a positive experience.
Happy New Year!
All businesses rely upon referrals to some degree. Regardless of your industry, it is incredibly important to live up to the compliment when someone refers business your way. Don’t let that person down… perform at your best and you will find that they will refer more business to you in the future. Here are a few tips for getting referrals.
- Ask. Really… I mean it. It is so simple yet so many people just don’t do it. Whatever the reason may be… too shy, over confident, too busy… it never pays to be silent! Most satisfied clients are very happy to refer new prospects your way, but they simply won’t think of it if you don’t ask.
- Time it right. When a project is completed, confirm the client is satisfied and then ask them to refer you to others who may benefit from your services. Always ask the customer when their happy results are still fresh.
- Track them. Keep track of who is sending you referrals, what type of work they are and if you win the business. By doing this, you will get a good feel for how you are doing in a particular area. If you don’t get the business, always ask why so that you may improve your value proposition.
- Build trusting relationships. Create satisfied clients through meaningful interactions. If you are helpful and valuable to your clients, they will be more likely to trust that you will take care of the people you refer them to.
- Follow up. Be prompt in your follow-up with referrals. Always contact someone right away following the initial point of connection.
- Provide great service. Treat your referral as you would any existing or prospective client and then do it better! Make your referral source look great by taking extreme care to provide the best customer experience you can.
- Thank your sources. Always thank the person who made the connection for you. Regardless of the outcome, make a personal call or send a note thanking them for thinking of you. Whenever possible, refer business back to them as the ultimate thank you.
Referrals will provide you with pre-screened new business. As an added bonus, you will also earn a great sense of pride in what you do and feel good about how you service your clients. Having an existing client refer you to someone is a great barometer for your services. Of course, you know to always treat any client with respect, but consider going the extra mile to be super helpful for your productive referral sources. You will always see results in return.
I had an experience yesterday that got me thinking about service and point of view. Let me walk you through my experience… yesterday was a glorious fall day in New England– blue skies, cool breezes and crisp air. I was inspired to cook a hearty meal to warm ourselves after a day outdoors. I pulled out recipes, created a list and headed to the store for ingredients. Feeling productive when I got home, I emptied my bags to begin cooking. To my unpleasant surprise, I was missing a key ingredient that I knew I paid for. Feeling aggravated by the error, I now had to go back.
I started thinking about how this may have happened. When I was in line, I noticed that the bagger had forgotten an item and so I quickly grabbed it and left the store, not checking to see if anything else may have gotten placed aside accidentally. If I had taken two more seconds to really look at the counter, I would have seen that one of my main ingredients was still there.
Did my plan get sidetracked because I wasn’t paying attention to the details of that interaction? Or, was it poor service?
From my point of view as a customer, it was poor service. But the more I considered the options, from the point of view of the service provider, perhaps I wasn’t paying attention? This begs the question… how many times have our clients had similar experiences with our service?
Right or wrong, good customer service is defined by the experience of the recipient. Good service is not a few grand gestures, rather it is the immediate experience weighed against the compilation of all of the smaller interactions. Each reaction to an encounter makes a difference between client service success and failure. It’s the attention to detail that makes the difference. It is up to us, as individual service providers, to make sure that each experience is positive because in any negative experience, whether of our own fault or not, we could be perceived as not providing great service. When we regularly provide solid customer service in each interaction, regardless of the magnitude of the event, we build loyal relationships that thrive over the long term.