” Why is it so hard?” I’m sure we’ve all asked this question at one time or another, when something we expect to be quick and easy and turns out to be anything but.
Welcome to my world, where ‘difficult’ and ‘unhelpfulness’ sometimes rule seemingly unchallenged… until last week! Two recent experiences gave me reason to hope that service isn’t a lost art. The first experience was with my bank and the second with a local ‘tradie’ (plumber) – neither of whom have, on previous occasions, been able to provide me with what I would define as a ‘feel good’ service experience. But last week was different – yay!
Here’s what made each experience a standout for me (in other words – the lessons they provide for everyone involved in the delivery of a service):
- Expectations were set upfront – on both occasions the person clearly outlined what they were going to do, the cost, timeframe involved and what they required of me. And, if I kept to my part of the ‘deal’, I would get the outcome I was looking for.
Key takeout: Under promise, over deliver.
- With the above commitments duly conveyed (and accepted), I nevertheless remained somewhat sceptical – I’d heard this all before. But my doubts were slowly smoothed away by regular, personalized updates which informed me as to progress! My confidence was returning.
Key takeout: Proactively communicate, communicate, communicate
- As it turned out, I needed to speak with several different people at the bank during the exercise and while previous experience suggested that this would require me to repeat myself (with increasing frustration) to various people who seemingly had no prior knowledge or apparent interest in my situation, this wasn’t the case this time around. It seemed that everyone within the organization who had to be across my situation, was. Hallelujah!
Key takeout: Data rich client management systems which are regularly refreshed with the latest client activity, enhance the customer experience.
- A positive, empathic approach works wonders. I felt both providers were looking for a solution, not roadblocks or problems, so I was more than happy to listen to options and alternatives – as these were going to solve my particular issues. My language, not theirs.
Key takeout: It’s so very true – clients don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care!
- It became necessary to call on additional expertise and gain local council permits to complete the plumbing job – to my pleasant surprise, the plumber undertook to handle these discussions on my behalf. I was both relieved and appreciative!
Key takeout: If the job requires different expertise, why not quarterback so the client doesn’t have to?
- Lastly, I was completely floored when the bank actually rang me, in person, to ask for a few minutes of my time to provide my feedback – how did I find this experience? How’d we go? What could we have done better?
Key takeout: Clients don’t mind giving you feedback, and even appreciate being asked. Proactively seeking feedback from clients can be a very valuable exercise, it simply requires you to listen and accept what’s being said to you and, if necessary, respond accordingly and take action if needed.
Although I was dealing with two very diverse types of service (a bank and a plumber), my experiences as a client and key take-outs are surely universal. So how do advice firms compare? Our latest Future Ready IX analysis of the ‘health’ of Australian advice practices, suggests that some may still have a way to go to ‘make it easy’ for their clients’:
For your consideration.