Over the years you’ve heard me talk a lot about service. More times than I care to think about, I’ve seen (or been the victim of) absolutely appalling service.
But occasionally I encounter a level of service that isn’t good, or great, or excellent. It’s extraordinary, brilliant, and incomparable. And that’s the kind of service I want to talk about today.
So what are the ten secrets to extraordinary client care? Here’s my list:
- Identify what the people keeping you in business want from you. Not what you think they want, or hope they want, but what they do want. Don’t know? Ask!
- Realize that customers aren’t just purchasing products or services. They’re buying solutions and experiences. Many (if not most!) customer needs are emotional, not logical.
- Look way down the road. When you drive a car, you aren’t simply focused on the ten feet in front of you. Instead, you are looking at what’s directly in front of you, what’s ahead in the distance … and what’s in the rear-view mirror. Using extended vision in this way will allow you to anticipate client needs, which is part of delivering extraordinary service.
- Treat clients in such a way that they feel valued. Don’t take them for granted … and say “thank you” on a regular basis.
- Utilize the power of “yes”. If a client has a special request, and there’s a way to make it happen for a client, agree to do it (provided, of course, that you’re not breaking any laws or regulations). You can always figure out the mechanics of delivery later. Always give more than expected – not only does it feel good, it will differentiate you from your competitors.
- Make doing business with you easy. The more barriers, the fewer clients.
- Ensure your clients understand the machinery behind the way you work. Explain the processes, and the reasons behind your actions, so your clients understand “the way things work” and their role in the process.
- Learn good conflict resolution skills. If there is conflict, be a good listener. Are you paying attention to body language, tone of voice, and the underlying emotions of an upset customer … or are you simply “hearing” their words? Unhappy customers are usually locked in emotion, not logic.
- Make it easy for clients to complain. Value their complaints. And learn how to apologize sincerely if you have made a mistake or dropped the ball on something you promised. Then take action to make things right.
- Ask for feedback, and learn from it.
And now let me tell you about a recent (well, really, an ongoing) extraordinary client care experience which has been putting a smile on my face for several months now.
Every month, I meet live with my EVOLVE real estate coaching group. We spend a pretty intense day together, and during that time I work with agents to help them conquer challenges in their businesses.
Each and every month, we are treated superbly at the Bothell location of the Hilton Garden Inn. From Trisha’s smile and friendly attention at the check-in desk, to Jay’s outstanding hospitality set-up and care throughout the day… it’s one good experience after the other. General Manager Chip Peterson sets a stellar example for his staff. I never see him without a smile and a positive attitude, and he’s obviously coached his team to have that same approach when interacting with guests.
But perhaps the finest example of truly extraordinary client care at the Bothell Hilton Garden Inn is Executive Chef / Food and Beverage Manager Navi Mudaliar.
I first met Navi last June. It was our first time at the hotel, where we had rented space for one of our Safari real estate training events. A previous event had been held at the Redmond Marriott, where we had a good experience … so we were actually prepared for the Hilton not to measure up!
If you’ve ever taught a group of people, you know that while it can be exciting, it can also be exhausting. At the end of the first of two days I was tired … and I needed a good meal! I have pretty particular taste when it comes to what I eat, and I definitely need a meal with lots of protein and veggies after a long day. But nothing on the menu looked like it would satisfy!
As I sat staring at the menu after class, Navi came to the table. After a few questions about dietary restrictions and my likes, Navi promised to make something that I would love. This is a line I’ve heard before … and the end result rarely delivers on the promise. But boy, did Navi deliver what he promised!
My meal that evening was outstanding.
Not only was the food wonderful, Navi personally checked back with me several times, to be sure that I was happy with my meal.
Even more than the taste of the food, I’ll always remember the fact that Navi could see my exhaustion, and cared enough to take care of me. That’s extraordinary client service.
So when I needed to commit to finding a location for the twelve-month EVOLVE group which began in July, where do you think I went? That’s right – the Hilton Garden Inn!
Now each month, I see Navi when we’re coaching our EVOLVE students. He never fails to come to my table at lunch, ask how I am doing, and offer to make me a special meal. He always asks if I – or my team – need anything. What is it about this client care that I love so much? Yes, it is the personal care. And yes, it is the attention to detail shared by every staff member we’ve encountered.
That’s the service that makes me come back for more.
There are a lot of different hotels, conference centers, and meeting spaces between Seattle and Bellingham where I could hire space to coach my EVOLVE group. But I’ll continue to return to Bothell’s Hilton Garden Inn because of their great client care – and because of Navi Mudaliar in particular!
Do you have a great client care story? If so, I’d love to hear it!