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Cultivating the Best Customer Experience

cultivating client relationships

There are satisfied customers – those who have received their products or services and are content with their purchase; there are dissatisfied customers – those whose expectations have not been met; and then there are off-the-charts fans of your business – those clients who have received memorable, exceptional customer service and products. Can you think of the last customer service experience you had that made you a raving fan? Creating this type of memorable experience for your customers does not have to be difficult.

Use Failure as an Opportunity to Improve

We all set out to make our clients happy with the work we do, but we don’t always succeed. Failure to make a client happy with your product or service is not a failure at all – rather, take it as an opportunity to create an even stronger impression. Think of client dissatisfaction as the best time to show just how resilient, patient, and cooperative your company can be. Use negative feedback to improve your future operations and customer service. As long as you learn from your mistakes, you will only get better.

cultivating strong client relationships

Say it with a smile – being personable and passionate goes a long way in great customer service.

Customer Experience is a Part of Your Brand

Great customer service should be a part of your package, not an afterthought. If you find yourself constantly patching up problems and messes, then it’s probably time to re-evaluate your approach. Think of good service as a part of the product you are selling – people are buying your product or service over others because you offer the complete package – a great experience in addition to a great product. Win more sales with great products, win customer loyalty with great service. Be passionate about customer service and show your customers that you care. Find a way to build excellent customer service into your process from the very beginning.

Leadership Leads Good Customer Experience

Realize that good customer service starts at the leadership level. If treating your customers to a good experience is not valued by leadership, then that will be reflected in other positions. Other hindrances to good customer experience are apathy, disorganization, and disengagement of employees. All of these are problems that can be solved by good leadership. Executives should provide training, assistance, and perks for good customer service. A solid client-centric program should have guidelines for providing good service, as well as protocol for addressing problems when they do arise. In the case of Zappos, for example, if clients don’t like the shoes they ordered, no problem! Just return the items with free shipping both ways. The problem of customer dissatisfaction is virtually erased, since they can return the product without worrying about being charged. When you have a great customer experience, it’s because that experience is built into the very culture of the organization, beginning at the top.

Check out a few of our favorite books on the topic of customer service:

The New Gold Standard – The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company

Zappos: Good to Great

Pinstripe Bookshelf: Uncommon Service

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Some colleagues and I recently shared a lively discussion about business and management books we defined as professional game changers. Many titles sprang to mind, with one clearly standing out: Uncommon Service by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss (Harvard Business Review Press).

Each of us had devoured its simple brilliance and intriguing premise.

uncommon_serviceFrei and Morriss maintain that companies must “dare to be bad” in order to be great, choosing highly strategic ways to “underperform while fueling a winning service advantage.” But first, they say, you have to have the stomach for it…

The authors pose compelling arguments surrounding the art of making competitive trade-offs to build a sustainable business that’s profitable, scalable and able to deliver service excellence every day. They deliver practical insights into service innovation and actionable ways to win by putting customers at the core of your business.

Case studies across a variety of sectors showcase four dimensions — or “service truths” — to illustrate a powerful approach to uncommon service. Truth No. 1? You Can’t Be Good at Everything.

Explore this and the other dimensions in the book. It’s a must-read in our service economy.

Order Uncommon Service from Amazon

Storytelling: The Dark and Stormy Night of Content Marketing

Tampa Bay content marketing, blog writing, newsletters, articles, copywriting

The content world we’ve created is a keyword-saturated mess of Google juice that is lacking a human connection – the thread that makes our stories honest and memorable. We talk about storytelling all the time – encouraging and helping our clients to be authentic and personal. But I know we also fall short.

One of the breakout sessions I attended at Inbound 2015 was Shawn Pfunder’sLive to Tell the Tale: Leveraging Story to Define Your Brand and Craft Marketing Strategy.” His presentation is an excellent reminder that in a sea of terrible content, good storytelling is exceptionally engaging, informative, and compelling.

And he used Wonder Woman to help prove his point. Bonus.

Shawn reminded us that there are tried and true story plots that can also be used in advertising, blogs, articles, testimonials, bios, press releases, pitches, presentations, pitches … anything!

Quest,
Adventure,
Pursuit,
Rescue,
Escape,
Revenge,
The Riddle,
Rivalry,
Underdog,
Temptation,
Metamorphosis,
Transformation,
Maturation,
Love,
Forbidden Love,
Sacrifice,
Discovery,
Wretched Excess,
Ascension,
Descension

Within each of these, we can ask ourselves: Who is the hero? (Hint: The client!) What is the normal life? Why change? What will be different? What’s next? What’s the overall story?

So much of the information we consume is from a sales and marketing perspective, focused solely on what will drive traffic to the web site or likes and shares on social media. Case studies and testimonials focus on the company instead of the client. We’re guilty too.

As a result, we’re getting back to basics and committing to focusing on telling a story.

For more information, I searched for articles from the masters of storytelling and discovered these three TED Talks compiled by Convince & Convert.

Here are Shawn’s slides from his presentation.

 

I’ve already purchased the books he recommended:

20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias

The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall 

The Elements of Eloquence: Secret of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by Mark Forsythe

 

Here are a few more resources:

Entrepreneur: Storytelling Could Bring Your Brand to Life and Strengthen Your Marketing Impact

Fast Company: Why Our Brains Crave Storytelling in Marketing

And who doesn’t love Kevin Spacey?

Tampa Bay public relations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ginger Reichl is the president and chief strategist for Pinstripe Marketing.

Pinstripe Bookshelf: The Perfect Pitch

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I’ve been invited to pitch for hundreds of pieces of business over the course of my career, and I’ve been fortunate to win a significant percentage of them. Our clients know that we don’t go into meetings with PowerPoint presentations or slick handouts – we’ve all suffered enough with death by PowerPoint.* According to Jon Steel, author of The Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business, we’re doing something right, but I know we can always get better. That’s why I picked up this book and discovered more than a few new insights to boost our new business efforts.

perfectpitchAlthough written from the perspective of a strategic planner pitching new business in the advertising industry, the content is relevant for anyone charged with selling ideas and landing new clients. In the professional services realm, one can imagine what new business pitches look like – the parade of suits promising a commitment to client service, full-service capabilities, unmatched experience… all hiding behind a projector, screen and a stack of “leave behinds.” Sound familiar?

Perfect Pitch is not a call to end PowerPoint presentations, but a manual on how to understand your audience and present ideas in a compelling, persuasive fashion. There are dozens of useful nuggets and commentary throughout the book – things to do as well as what not to do.

One of the resounding themes throughout the book rang familiar. My very first pitch for Pinstripe was a soon-to-be-fast-growing software company and I was fortunate to end up on the short list against one of the largest and well-known agencies in Tampa Bay. After a few meetings and submitting a proposal, I won the account which helped get the agency off the ground and was the beginning of a long, rewarding relationship. In that meeting where the CEO officially hired us, she asked if I wanted to know why they picked us. I was so stunned that I didn’t know what to say, but she responded, “you were the only one who behaved as if our business was important to you.”

It was then and it is now.

Order The Perfect Pitch from Amazon

* In 2006, Wall Street Journal estimated 30 million PowerPoint presentations are given every day around the world. We’ve seen the backlash over the last nine years, so we can hope it has gone down since then. Unfortunately, it has probably become worse.

Marketing Professionals Answer Your Questions in This Free Business Book

Tampa Bay public relations, PR firmThroughout my career I have been asked a variety of questions about marketing and public relations from start-up entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 executives. I’ve always said that marketing is more art than science, but with some experience, I’ve determined some commonalities and things we can all employ to grow our businesses.

I am honored to have been selected as a one of seven contributors to answer some of the most common questions in this new book, Professionals in Public Relations, Marketing and Media Answer Your Questionscompiled by Nancy Vaughn and Grigoria Kritsotelis.

The questions include:

  • How do I reach my target audience at the right time?
  • How do I ensure proper brand exposure for my business?
  • What are the most common marketing mistakes that businesses make and how do you fix them?
  • What are three cost effective ways to get my marketing strategy off the ground?
  • I’m ready for the press, why isn’t the media calling me?
  • When should you hire a PR firm?
  • Why is marketing/branding/PR, etc. so important to a small business?
  • What should I expect from my PR firm?
  • What do media producers/editors look for when considering a business for a possible story?
  • How do I determine possible key performance indicators and why does it matter?
  • When it comes to marketing, what are the things you should look out for?

 

Download a free copy of the book and let me know if you have other questions!

~Ginger

Tampa Bay public relations

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