In the last post, we learned the process for researching our big fish (ideal client). Being prepared to make a great first impression is imperative to your success. Your strategy needs to instill confidence. The prospect needs to know you can meet expectations on time, at a reasonable price, and the quality at or above expectation.
Now let’s begin to create the perfect first impression. Building a good plan starts with identifying the right big fish. Take a look at your notes and the research you’ve done about prospective fish. Then decide which one will be the most straightforward approach to start with.
There are a series of things to go through in choosing which fish to start with. They are:
- Compile Your Hit List
- Prepare your position
- Define where to start
Compile Your Hit List
Start with a list of all the companies you’ve been considering. Then narrow it down to the ones who know could use your products or services. Don’t overlook obvious choices, whether they are big or small. Don’t discount a company just based on the physical size. A small company can have significant opportunities. Think back to your earlier work where you identified what makes a good big fish.
Prepare your position
You need to prepare your customer research. This starts by creating a documented procedure including the companies revenues, perceived target audience, industry challenges, company culture, decision-makers, etc. Use this tool to get into the heads of your clients to understand their needs and wants.
Once, you have the information you’re ready to make the first move.
Define where to start (prioritize)
Great so you have been able to narrow your list to a responsible 10-20 ideal clients. Now you need to set priorities of who you should contact first. To help you chose please consider the following:
- Which have the most purchasing resources to spend?
- Does their company vision complement yours?
- What are their employee incentive programs as they relate to your products/services?
- What’s the company’s actual need for you?
- Will the partnership lead you off-course?
Now you should have a target in mind to start with. It’s time to plan your approach and execute that plan.
Here’s the step-by-step plan to help you make an excellent first impression:
- Build and analyze your database. Use the following lead tags to categories and track your sales process (if you don’t like these, come up with your own, but make sure you a definition that includes the behaviors your prospect should be displaying): hot leads, great fits, warm leads, and secondary leads.
- Great fits: these are the top 1-3 from your list above.
- Hot leads: these are leads that you have been able to engage in meaningful conversations. Specifically, you have spoken with them, and they have moved to the end of your pipeline.
- Warm leads: these are the leads that you have engaged in meaningful conversation but have not been able to get over all their objections. They see you as a problem solver and their most likely solution but you still have to get them over the hump.
- Secondary leads: These are not great fits, but you feel you can still bring value to them. However, they may not be your ideal for several reasons.
- Send out initial mailings (this a print mailing, you may, in addition, consider sending an email) to peak interest, educate, and establish preeminence. It should be short, clean, and concise. Ideally, to speak to the problem they have and don’t want.
- Follow up with your first phone call 2-3 days after they would have received the mailings. During the phone call, find out whom you need to be speaking with in the future and set up a meet with the right person.
- Follow up your phone call with another mailing/E-mailing/social contact that thanks them for taking the time to speak with you and offer more details about your products/services. Use this letter and opportunity to set up a meeting to do a presentation.
- Follow up the letter with another phone call a couple of days after receiving the letter. This phone call is to help you further develop your relationship with the prospective client. You should also be able to set up a presentation meeting with them.
- Call again a week later if they haven’t agreed to a meeting or presentation. Ask if they received your creative letter (the second one) and if they have a minute when you can stop by and introduce yourself in person.
- Repeat, Adjust and Adapt. No process is perfect; keep adapting and changing your contact method and message as long as the prospective client fits that ideal process.
Now, don’t be upset if you don’t seal the deal right away. Some people simply take a little longer to woo. This can all be a little intimidating at first, but you can’t go wrong when you know you are offering a quality product/service.
Once you’ve gone through this process and make the first contact (and hopefully a good first impression), it’s time to put your best face forward, which means sending the right salesperson to seal the deal.
If you need help putting together your approach and make an excellent first impression, schedule a free consultation to discuss your big fish.
The best time to start was yesterday, but today will do just fine.
About the Author
I am a business coach and consultant specializing in uncovering the root cause of a challenge and offering an unexpected solution. That solution typically results in a substantial increase in profits and the peace of mind to set you free from your business.
I ask powerful questions to clarify who you are and what you want. I am empathetic, although surgical in approach. I make my clients feel they are the only person I am working with. I have an uncanny way of drawing people out and getting to the heart of the matter.
I am a Pittsburgh native who aspires to free business from the rat race. If I am not working to improve the lives of my clients. Then you will most likely find me on the ice playing hockey, reading, or making plans for the future.
If I can ever be helpful to my readers, it would be my pleasure to connect and see where I can bring you value. I look forward to continuing to share more great lessons with my growing community.
My mother has taught me a lot over the years, but two key lessons that pertain to customer service are consistency and the Rule of 1%. In the last post, I shared my experience with STX and the lack of consistency and systems within their customer service experience. My mother’s lessons will ensure you do not make the same mistakes.
Your customer experience must be predictable and measured. You need to leave your clients, vendors, customers, and staff; feeling heard and cared for. The key to any customer experience is what do you want them to experience. Experience is a set of events and feelings. As you go about creating your customer service systems, keep this in mind.
Be as my mother; she wanted to do what is best for me but rarely gave into everything I wanted. She listened to what I had to say even when I was wrong, acknowledged my feelings, and redirects me to the path of least resistance. She treated me the same every time, and I found comfort in knowing that. Everyone once in a while, she surprised me with something I never expected.
If you want to take your satisfied customers to Raving Fan status, you have to go above and beyond the average customer service experience. The key to any great customer service experience is consistency.
There are three ways to develop consistency:
Limiting customer service options and.
It is easy to give customers what they want. However, this can cause us to drift from our vision of how we want our customers to feel. Instead, stay true to your vision and offer one or two solid customer service techniques that will set you apart from the competition.
Make sure the techniques you chose do not feel like a burden. To be honest, your goals are to address the customers feeling and before their problems.
Start by fine-tuning your current systems before you can add anything to the mix.
- Think about how I want them to feel, and am I currently getting them to feel that way.
- What action am my staff or I taking to get them to feel that way?
There’s nothing worse than launching a new program when you haven’t even worked out the kinks of an old system.
Put solid systems into place.
Once you know what you’re going to offer, you need to have a system in place to execute it flawlessly every time. This system needs to consist of the right people in the right roles and responsibilities and technology that guarantees a positive experience every time. Emphasis needs to be placed on the results, which ultimately is the satisfaction of the customer.
To get the best results to think about how you empower your staff to make decisions. If they have to go through a supervisor or you before they can approve a refund or replacement, what is the point? Your system needs to have the least number of steps possiable. Remember, your customer is already in a higher state of agitation, and your first job is to lower the feeling.
Good coaching is the key.
When creating excellent training, you need to remember it is not about the outcomes. It is about teaching your staff how to shift the emotional state of customers to create an optimal resolution for both them and the company. It is about the tools they have at their disposal and how information needs to be shifted through your organization.
The final piece to consider is your process for continually enhancing your staff skills. Your goal is to train them to be confident that they are the empowered expert who can solve your client’s issues.
Small steps lead to great results.
You may be looking at what currently doing and saying, “shit, I have a lot of work to do.” That is okay let the Rule of 1% be your guide to implementing the change in your business.
The Rule of 1% is simply defined as adding to your customer service one percent at a time. Before you can do this, you must have your consistency perfected, or it will never work. This one percent may seem small, but if you approach the vision for your company with baby steps, you will find a massive increase over a solid chunk of time. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.
Avoid doing too much at once, or you’ll set yourself up for failure. Think of the confidence you and your employees will have when you improve one percent each week. By the end of a year, you’ll have improved more than 50%!
While rules and standards are necessary for growth, always be flexible with your best customers. Most retailers only allow a set number of items into a dressing room to reduce the risk of shoplifting, but it generally restricts the large percentage of people who are not stealing from you. Flexibility is the key to what you deliver to your customers, and consistency is the key to how you provide it.
The bottom line is customers rely on you to deliver what you promise. If you spend too much on bulky advertising that promises more than you can deliver, even your best intentions will unravel quickly, and you will fail.
Focus on your vision and baby steps to turn your satisfied customers into Raving Fans.
I hope you’ve learned a lot about good customer service and how it’s essential to your overall success. If you need help with any of the steps we’ve gone through over the last four lessons if you need help feel free to contact me I would be happy to chat. https://ideasactionsuccess.com/contact/
In upcoming posts, we’re going to explore strategies of bagging the big clients and keeping them.
In the last post, we talked about figuring out what your customers want out of a positive buying experience. Today I was going to talk about the concept of Deliver +1 and how this concept can take your customer service to the next level. Instead, I need to share a recent experience as an example of what not to do in your customer service system.
Over three weeks ago, STX hockey ran a BOGO special. Anyone who knows me knows I love STX equipment. As you can imagine, I was excited. It was the chance for me to pick up their top-of-the-line sticks for $100 or less, which, if you are a hockey player, it’s a steal.
However, when my order arrived, it only had two of the four sticks I had ordered; the box was ripped open. I was shocked. I immediately went online to look up the customer service number. I called no answer; upon listening to the customer service message, it stated that they do not have customer service hours on the weekends and suggest sending an email.
I left a voicemail and then followed up with an email to highlight my issues and my desire to speak with someone. I expected them to get back to me on Monday.
Monday afternoon rolls around, and no replay. So I decided to call again, no answer. I leave another voicemail and email. Two days later, I called again. This time added how they could resolve the issue to my satisfaction. (see email below)
Apr 16, 2021, 13:54 EDT
I am following up because I have now left three voice messages and have not heard anything from you. I was a major supporter of the STX, but I am now becoming extremely frustrated that you have been unable to get back to me about the issue with my stick order within a week.
I would like to either receive the other two sticks that I ordered with your BOGO deal or a refund for the product I didn’t receive.
Please call me at (edited to remove personal information)
I waited another two days and no response. I left another voicemail and an email. At this point, I have created three support tickets and was starting to get frustrated. I am a massive fan of the brand and love their equipment, but the lack of support was ridiculous.
Once again, the weekend was approaching, so I knew I could not get a hold of anyone. So I decided to try the hail marry of getting shit done before I just cut my losses and move on, never to buy from them again.
I looked up the CEO, email, and phone number using a prospecting tool, shout out to Seamless AI. I sent a final email highlighting my displeasure and how I would like to see it resolved.
Apr 22, 2021, 9:34 EDT
I am reaching out as a concerned customer and business owner myself. I have been trying to reach someone at STX customer service for over two weeks. I have left 4 voice mails and sent 3 emails and have not heard back from them.
I had an issue with your recent BOGO sale, in which I only received two of the four sticks I should have received as much as I am pissed that I did not receive what I ordered. I am more concerned about my favorite hockey brand.
I have truly enjoyed using your products, but I am now considering switching because of the lack of customer care. It is ridiculous that not one person could reply to a voice mail or email in two weeks. I hope that you, as the owner, have taken the time to read this email and will hopefully respond to me.
My phone number is (edited to remove personal information)
My support ticket (26556)
Later that afternoon, I got my first response. Now it took me over two weeks of messaging and calling to get a response. You would think they would have taken the time to read my emails and listen to my voice mails, where I spell out my problem.
No, the first thing is two different customer support agents contacted me—each one asking for my order number, which I had shared with them twice in earlier emails.
After giving them the information, they credited my account and have sent me the two missing sticks, which seems like a desired result. I got everything I wanted and then some; however, they still made several significant mistakes. These were the ones that bothered me the most.
- Their customer service agents were called agents instead of having names, which made the limited interaction feel impersonal. To be honest, this was a characteristic of the entire experience.
- They were extraordinarily unorganized and failed to communicate how they resolved my problem. Suddenly, I got an email from my credit card company that I had received credit and a similar message from UPS that a package was on the way.
- Lastly, no apology. I am glad they resolved the issue, but seriously they took no ownership and left the experience feeling cold.
As you continue to read this series on customer service, I hope you take my experience to heart while developing your customer service systems. Next week I will introduce the concept of Delivery +1 and the 1% rule.
In the meantime, if you need help building a holistic customer experience that turns your clients into raving fans. Then don’t hesitate to contact me.
In the last post, we talked about the first secret to building a solid customer service plan and how to decide what your vision is.
Today we’ll talk about the second secret in taking your satisfied customers to raving fans. You must know what your customers want. Know who your customers are, and you will know better how to serve them. Having a defined ideal client is really important here. An upper-class woman in her 30’s is going to have completely different expectations than a working-class man in his 50’s.
When considering what your customer wants, there are four main areas to focus in:
- Listen to your client
- Ask Your Customers Sincerely
- Offer More than Just a Product/Service
- Know When to thank them for their feedback
These are all important when deciding what your customers want out of their experience.
Listen to Your Client
You need to listen to both what they say and what they don’t say. Clients may say they want one thing and mean something else. For example, if your customers are begging for lower prices, you may find their real priority is quick delivery. Your clients fall into four categories.
First, you have the raving fan; they’re the person who will self-identify with your brand. Take, for example, the hipster that will say I will only use apple products. Most of the time, they love what you do and provide you with positive feedback. This is your 20% sweet spot. However, if you’re looking to grow or pivot, you have to listen to what they say and prod them for negative feedback.
Second, you have the passive client; you need to listen to customers who only reply with “fine.” These customers are so used to bad customer service they only give a monotone response. Think of the client that leaves the 3-star review and writes it was good—clearly, no a lot to go on here.
Third, you have the silent client. Listen to your “silent” customers. These customers don’t bother to complain because the service is so bad they’ve just given up and don’t feel like their voice matters. They feel unwanted, and when a competitor shows up, they’ll be gone.
Lastly, you have the detracter or “Karen.” These are your clients who had such a negative experience that will actively try to cause harm to your business. This can be in the form of a poor review or youtube rant. It is essential to make sure that you have a plan in place to handle these people. One suggestion is to create a Non-ideal client profile; this will allow you to figure out who that person is before they even have a chance to buy from you.
Ask Your Customers Sincerely
If you aren’t sincere when you ask their opinion, they will see right through you. It is essential to understand why you are asking them for their feedback. Are you truly prepared to take feedback and make changes? If not, don’t ask. Client feedback is not an opportunity to pander to them in an attempt to create some false value. This is your chance to reengage them and keep them as loyal customers.
You need to ask them sincere questions that get them thinking about their experiences. Make them feel like you really care, and you should!
Extra tip: If you have a plan of how their feedback is being used, share it with them during your review process.
Offer More than Just a Product/Service
Your customer service process does not just start after you have completed the sale. Make sure you are thinking holistically about your client’s experience. It starts from the first contact and continues indefinitely.
Your customers are looking for much more than a simple product or service; they are looking for an experience that makes them feel good. They gauge every step of the process with a value. When you consider this and treat them like people, they will feel like they belong. That is when your product or service becomes a community.
Know When to Ignore Them
First, you must acknowledge that your business is not for everyone and everyone is not your customer. You will sell to people, and people will buy from you that really shouldn’t have.
It is okay; in reality, you can’t give them everything, and some people you will never make happy. You have to set limits and stick to them. If your vision and company don’t meet the customer’s needs, they will be best suited elsewhere.
Be direct, tell them this is not working out, and create a process to help them find the right place for them, and then move on to those you can help.
- Who is my customer?
- What are my goals for my customer experience?
- What questions can I ask to make sure I am delivering on that experience?
- How will I use their answers?
Now that you have learned some quick tips and tricks. If you get stuck, I am happy to answer questions. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Customer service is a pretty hot topic and can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for lousy customer service and quickly get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something, or trying to communicate through a language barrier.
If you provide them with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience, they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, your clients will tell everyone they know!
There are three secrets to good customer service; the first one we’re going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.
You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for your business’s future, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business, including customer service. There are three main goals you need to consider:
- Understand Your Road Blocks
- It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website, and other technology-based programs to help them shop. No matter what medium you chose, make sure you understand all of the steps your asking your client to do. Then make sure you can make them as easy as possible.
- Your Experience Needs to be Like Talking with Mom
- Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, warm, and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience.
- A Penny Wise a Dollar Foolish
- Change your mindset and ask yourself, “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses, but making and keep happy customers. It is always essential to think about customer lifetime value when dealing with complaints, refunds, replacements, etc. Think a penny today is a dollar tomorrow.
With these thoughts in mind, you also need to consider a few things when deciding on the actual programs and standards you’ll put into place.
- Share your customer service vision with the rest of your staff.
- Empower your staff to make decisions at the moment.
- Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
- Monitor the level of customer service your staff is putting out.
- Set a time to review and improve your customer experience regularly.
- Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
- Continuously focus on your goals.
Now that you know what you want, you can start thinking about meeting those wants and creating a positive customer service experience. If you’re having a hard time deciding on what you want, the tools, resources, and coaches in our GUIDED TOUR can help you define your company’s wants and needs in relation to customer service.