Client service excellence isn’t about doing what no one else can do; it’s about doing what anyone can do, but doesn’t. – Leo Bottary, Vice President, Public Affairs at Vistage International
This statement is a good summation of the attitude I have carried with me throughout my 30+ years working as a client service/account manager in print, design firm and marketing agency scenarios.
It’s especially true in highly competitive industries such as creative services and marketing. Over the years, I’ve managed some very large B2B accounts and I’ve found that if you show a special interest in your clients and what they require to achieve their objectives, you’ll be rewarded with their loyalty because they’ll realize that they’ve come to rely on your commitment to service and that they may not get the same level of service from other suppliers.
Going from Good to Great
Building this extra level of client care and commitment was different in the years before cell phones, Blackberrys and social networking. One-on-one contact makes it easier to build relationships and indeed can develop into genuine friendship over time. It’s much more difficult to build these kinds of relationships when your main form of communication is e-mail and voicemail.
I’ve actually met a few client service representatives who’ve never met their clients face-to-face. I think there is a missed opportunity there. How else can you find out what your client’s personal interests, likes and dislikes are – the things that normally don’t get conveyed in an e-mail? Clients are always pleasantly surprised when they receive an e-mail or a card from a supplier about a subject that is of personal interest to them, but they forgot they had mentioned it.
Know Your Client
And do some research to find out more about the client’s business. This especially applies if you’re providing marketing and communications services, but is applicable to any service industry. You’ll have a much better understanding and empathy for your client’s objectives if you know what issues they have to deal with in their business.
Client service is also about being very diligent about responding to clients’ phone messages and e-mails in a timely manner. Don’t forget, there are lots of competitors who’d be happy to eat your lunch if you take too long to return a client’s call.
If you do your homework and are prepared to “go the extra mile” to provide an additional level of service to your clients, it will pay off in spades.