For those of us in the professional service business, client service is not an abstract concept. There are daily “moments of truth” when a client feels that you’ve delighted or disappointed him or her. What would your clients say about your responsiveness, the quality of your work or your billing process?
Try an experiment. Pick a week and view your client service through your clients’ eyes. This means that you can’t factor in your rationale-or excuses-for why you do things the way you do. Take a critical look at every client touch point. For example:
- Is the phone greeting they get when they call your office friendly, welcoming and professional or abrupt and amateurish? (I recommend that people answer the phone with their first and last name. Answering my phone, “Beryl” sounds as if I”m expecting an internal call or call from a friend. Taking the extra less-than-a-second to say “Beryl Loeb” is more professional.)
- Does it feel as if your client’s e-mails are given priority or that their e-mails have fallen into an enormous black hole? Even when you don’t have the answer to a client’s question, it’s best to respond by letting them know you’ve read their request and will get back to them within (fill in the blank) hours.
- Are your e-mails, status reports and documents well-written, proof-read and formatted well? Or does it look like everything was written in rushed, text-message lingo?
- Does your day-to-day work come across as thoughtful, based on insight and experience or does the client see your best only on big proposals with even bigger price-tags?
- Are your invoices easy-to-read or do you have to be “in the know” to understand what the charges are for? (The latter means that accounting will bounce back the invoice requiring more of your client’s time.)
- Does your definition of when a project is completed match the client’s?
- Would your client say your communication and updates are “just right,” “too sporadic” or “overkill?”
- Do your meetings start and finish on time which, demonstrates respect for your client’s time? Or not…
- oDoes your client leave meetings with you excited about the good work you’re doing together or anxious and overwhelmed?
What impressions are your day-to-day behaviors creating? Are your “moments of truth” building trust or seeding a series of small frustrations that will grow into overall unhappiness?