As a customer,
how much are you worth? How many dollar signs do you have on your forehead?
Would you like to be treated according to how much you’re spending? Better yet, Do you treat people this way? Would you continue to go back to a place where your service is based solely on how much money you spend? I was inspired by my friend to write the following post about going above and beyond.
I had lunch with my friend Kent the other day to catch up. Since I’d seen him last, Kent has been dealing with a detached retina. Kent doesn’t have health insurance, but his eye doctor explained that a detached retina could cause blindness… read more to find out what happened… so Kent needed to go see a specialist immediately.
The specialist told Kent he could do the procedure at “his” hospital (the one with which the specialist was associated), but warned him it would cost a great deal of money. Here’s where it gets really good! After hearing that Kent didn’t have insurance, the specialist referred him to a different hospital that was able to provide the needed medical care.
So they got Kent in and did some sort of procedure which included a gas bubble. The procedure was covered, because Kent’s income made him eligible under some special funding, making the procedure affordable.
The point I want to make is this: the specialist not only made my friend aware that he could get the procedure done someplace else, but also made the phone call and got him in immediately in order to save his vision! He didn’t have to do this. He could have just scheduled him for a surgery that quite possibly could have cost my friend $5K or more. Now to top all this goodness off, Kent never even got a bill from the specialist. I can only wish that the nightly news was filled with more stories like this, because huge acts of kindness are happening all around us. The problem is no one is focusing on them.
Speaking of focus, let’s contrast with a different story. I had coffee the other day with someone, and he repeatedly informed me how he gets bored when he attends networking events, and his entire focus for going is “how to make more money.” He told me he gets up and leaves early, because the other attendees aren’t also focused on how to make money! This is someone I don’t know very well, so I won’t assume that he wouldn’t do something for someone for free or that he doesn’t give to charity.
However, I do know that if your focus is so narrowly focused on money that you don’t (or can’t) see the value in the humans with whom you’re coming into contact — you come across as desperate and are unable to give great customer service. True customer service, which is what this gentleman and I spoke about, is all about building relationships with your clients. It’s what allows small business owners to stand out in today’s economic environment. I’ve repeatedly spoken about this, and I work with small business owners through coaching to focus not just on getting new clients but on building stronger relationships with their current customers. Small business owners need their customers to talk about what awesome service they got. Why? Through word-of-mouth marketing, you’ll gain new customers because they will refer people to you. They will do this through the mere act of telling people about the (“above and beyond”) service they got from you.
Have you figured out yet that I now have a new eye specialist in my electronic rolodex? If I ever do need something done with my eyes, I already trust someone I’ve never met because of the kindness he showed my friend.
Please don’t get me wrong — many of my clients come to me to make more money. And there is an adjustment period as we talk about what relationship building truly is. Sometimes, I ask clients to put a price tag on their head so that I can decide how much attention to give them (and usually I get a very confused look and have to explain). So we go through the exercise of mentally going into a networking event and realizing some people — if you choose to focus only on money — have bigger $$$ on their heads. They are the big whale clients, and it’s easy to focus only on that one person. The problem is that everyone is focusing on that big whale of a client! And — guess what? — that whale sees you coming. Why? Because they know they have power in their wallets.
Now, I’m not saying you should ever ignore someone who has lots of money. But I’m also saying you shouldn’t ignore the one who can’t afford your product or service! Had the eye specialist ignored my friend Kent, I wouldn’t even be writing this blog post.
So let’s get back to the topic of how you treat each person who walks into your place of business. Do you treat one person better than another? If you do, you run the risk of having one person say you’re a great “guy or gal” and another person saying “well, they kinda ignored me.” With social media, and the power of the internet, I work with my clients to help them understand that you want everyone saying you’re awesome. To be awesome, you have to exceed your clients’ expectations. The main problem almost every client I work with has is identifying and quantifying their clients’ expectations. Can you verbalize what your clients expect of you and your business? Can you verbalize all their expectations?
What have you done to give to someone else selflessly lately? I would love to hear your thoughts about how treating people with kindness has helped your or persuaded you to make a specific decision about who to do business with.