Who is your client?

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client-relationshipsIn Mirriam-Webster’s a client is defined as a person who engages the professional advice or services of another. Another definition of client is customer.   In my early twenties I often thought of the client as the end client. By that I mean, if a company is a bank, the clients are the people who do business with the bank.

In my thirties, as I spent more time in the workforce, I started to shift the concept of client to people I interacted with or served on a daily basis. What this meant was that in the various departments that I interacted with my business partners, operations partners, are my clients.

In my mid to late thirties as I embarked on my leadership journey, my concept of client was everyone that I interacted with, including those people who worked in my organization.   As a servant leader, you aim to add value to others. In order to achieve that you need to shift your focus from self to others.   It is a difficult process, because in the age of instant gratification, the focus is often on self.   However, in order to achieve the shift, you need to slowly transform yourself by improving your awareness.   This process is difficult, but the reward is great.

Each year after that, I made progress in shifting my focus.   I start my day by thinking how I can add value to people around me.  Realizing that everyone is my client, I need to ensure that I do my best in servicing them. However, does that mean that I will be stretched in 10 different directions? Of course the answer is “NO”.

Here are some of my suggestions on how to ensure you’re providing a good service:

Be accountable – be accountable for your actions. Make sure to take ownership of your process and ensure that you see things through, that it gets done.

Focus on relationship – be aware of people’s needs and how you can help them.   Be a partner and don’t push people around.   If you have the bandwidth to help, help one or offer to help.

Priorities is key – while the need to serve everyone is crucial, you need to understand the priorities. Not all requests are alike; some are more important than others.

Focus on the end result – putting a smile on people’s faces is ultimately what we want to achieve. Focus on doing your best to delight your customer. When we enable our immediate customers, they can in turn help their customers.

Differentiation is the key – the key to market movement is differentiation. How can you differentiate yourself from everyone else? Do you want to be known for better service, best price, etc.?

If you keep in mind that the people you interact with are your customers, chances are you’ll do your best to delight them.   Remember that if you help them, they in turn can help someone else.   Go ahead and delight your customer. Put a smile on their face.

Customer Service :-)

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customerWhen I think of customer service, the company that comes to mind is Amazon. I’ve been a customer of Amazon and they always meet my expectations.   As I write this post, I remember Jeff Bezos quote: “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” That is indeed true. The same is true when a customer is unhappy with your service; they tend to tell 10 more of their friends than when they are happy with your service. So bad service experience is shared 10 times faster than good experience.

The key to good customer service is company management. If the management takes good care of their people, their employees will be happy and their customers will ultimately benefit by having a more engaged and meaningful experience. Their employees will be committed in servicing their customers and attend to the customers’ needs.

On April 18, I visited a Japanese restaurant in Allendale. This restaurant was recommended to me by a co-worker of mine.   I was excited to tell my nephew who is a big fan of Japanese restaurants.   There were 7 of us as my sister-in-law was here for the Easter weekend.   As we entered the restaurant, we noticed that it was packed.   We decided that we would wait, because we want to see how good their food was.   The lady asked how many people were in our party. My wife said “7”.   She looked at the back of the restaurant and told my wife that they didn’t have a table for 7. My wife countered that they could separate us and the lady said, “No, because that’s too hard”. We all walked away disappointed with the way they interacted with us. Who in their right mind would turn away 7 paying customers?   Not to let her ruin our night, we decided to head to our favorite Japanese restaurant, Kumo, in Ridgewood.

Upon arrival at Kumo, we were greeted and ask how many in the party.   We waited for about 15 minutes as they prepared the table.   As always Kumo’s staff gave us a great experience, not to mention that the food is great. As my daughters said, it is our favorite restaurant.   The key difference between the two restaurants is that one tries to accommodate the customer while the other thinks about their own convenience before their customers.   Ultimately it left a bad experience with us and we will not be returning anytime soon.

It does not take a lot to keep your customers happy.   Listening and taking care of them are key. If you do put yourself in your customer’s position and think how you want to be served, you will always make the right decision.   Delighting your customer will go a long way.   It will also help promote your business through word of mouth.     As Jeffrey Gitomer said, “Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.”

customerserviceWe all have customers in our life. The people we interact with at work are our customers.   Our family or children are our customers.   It is essential that we learn the right way of engaging our customers, because it is essential to our success.   The next time you don’t feel like it and are having a bad day, just think of how you want to be treated and let that be the way you treat others.   Remember, those who master customer service will ultimately have a great career and achieve success, while the rest will continue to wonder what happened to them.   I’ll close this post with Stew Leonard (CEO) quote, “Rule 1: The customer is always right. Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, re-read Rule 1.”