Have you ever wondered what your clients need from you? Does the idea of giving your customers what they want sound good, but you struggle to figure out what it is, much less, how to give it to them?
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One of the great things about buying from a small business is the personal touch – the feeling that you're dealing with a real person instead of a large, impersonal corporation. One of the best things about owning a small business is the ability to provide that personal touch and an excellent experience to everyone who walks through your door.
But how do we give our customers the personal touch they want while building a system that can scale as our business grows?
As consumers, we love the idea, look, feel, sound and even taste of customization. We want to know we can order what we want and get it the way we want. We customize our phones, our hamburgers and even our computers. We want to feel like we're buying something unique to us and no one else in the world can have it just the way we do.
As business owners, we want to make our customers feel special. We want to treat them like they're our only clients so we can de liver specialized results. We work hard making the best-possible products. We stay up all hours of the night working out how we can meet the needs of our clients so we can see them succeed. We pride ourselves in offering a customized, specialized, personalized experience to everyone who hires us to cook, clean, create or coach for them.
But, if we want to grow our business, we have to be able to scale our services to beyond just one client. If we want to grow, we have to figure out a way to take the quality experience one client gets and apply it to every client.
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Each Client Wants Something Different
Some people want soup, others want salad. Some drivers want big trucks while others like small cars. Some people like morning meetings while others prefer them at the end of the day. I prefer my steak medium rare, you may enjoy yours medium-well.
We're all different and we each have our own wants and needs. Your customers have each gotten accustomed to coming to you and your business for certain things and getting them a certain way.
And, up to this point, things have worked out fine. You've got a small (but growing) number of clients who like you and love what you do.
It's now time to grow. It's time to hire that assistant, bring on that partner, and take on that larger client you couldn't handle six months ago.
But how do you grow while still keeping the same quality of service you offered when you were small? How do you scale up while niching down?
All Clients Want the Same Thing
The reality is that all of your customers want the same thing. When I order my steak, when you get your salad, when we walk into the dealership or go see a movie, we all want the same thing.
When your client pulls your business card out of their wallet, types in the web address and lands on your home page, they want the same thing as when they call you on the phone or walk into your store.
How is this possible?
What does every client want?
They want consistency.
Every time a client comes into contact with your business they want to know what they're getting. They don't want any surprises about whether or not they'll have a fantastic experience. What they do want is to know they're dealing with someone familiar – someone your client knows, likes and trusts.
Imagine if you went to your favorite restaurant, you know, the one you go to every Friday night after a long week. When you walk in, the hostess who normally greets you isn't there. In her place is someone you've never seen before. “No big deal” you think to yourself as you walk to your usual table.
After you sit down, a new waiter shows up with a pair of menus for you and your spouse. You've never seen him before either, but no big deal, new-hires are joining the team all the time. He hands you your menu and walks off without saying anything else.
Odd. The normally friendly staff is nowhere to be found! They seem to have been replaced by drones with no personality and no training about how things are supposed to be run.
Leery, you and your spouse both order the steak, Caesar salad with a loaded baked potato on the side, and turn to one another to catch up on the week's events.
A short time later your food comes out. But, it's not the same as you've been getting every Friday for the past three months. Thirteen weeks of great steaks, thirteen weeks of great service. And now this. The meat isn't cooked right, there's more Caesar than salad, and the baked potato seems to have forgotten the meaning of “loaded.”
The consistent experience you've been getting over the past few months has been disrupted.
Changes like these, the ones that prevent your clients from having a consistent experience, are killing your business. They're making it difficult for new customers and clients to trust you, and they're making your existing ones question your ability to deliver.
When people engage with you and your business they want to know what to expect.
Imagine This Instead…
You and your spouse, after a long week, decide to head to “your spot.” You've been going there for a few months and it's become the Friday night spot both of you enjoy and where you can relax.
When you walk in, you're greeted with a friendly new face. Though you've never seen her before, she welcomes you to the restaurant and promptly shows you to your favorite table. It's clear this new hostess has been properly trained and has taken well to the culture of the restaurant.
Eagerly, you and your spouse order “the usual” – a medium-rare strip and a medium filet, two salads and two baked potatoes.
Everything comes out as predicted. The steaks are hot, the salads crisp and the baked potatoes loaded like a rigged pair of Vegas dice. You leave the restaurant full, happy, and having gotten exactly what you hoped you'd receive.
Many people assume that to get what you expect you'll have a negative experience. Worse, some people even assume that to deliver predictability and consistency is to be boring or unexciting.
That's a very narrow way of looking at things. In fact, if you think like that too, it could be hurting your business.
For example, when you visit the Lexus dealership, do you not predict that you'll get great service with a high-level of consistency?
I'd say so.
The good news is consistency is great for business and it doesn't have to cost you anything extra. To deliver a consistently wonderful experience takes little more effort than to deliver an inconsistent or terrible one.
How to Deliver What Your Customers Want: Consistency
Being consistent doesn't mean boring or stale. It doesn't mean you can sit back and relax because you've already done the work.
Being consistent in your business means you've created reliable systems that allow you to deliver experiences that wow on a regular and predictable basis.
There a several ways you can give your customers the reliable experience they want. Here are a few of my favorites…
For Emails: I use templates as often as possible. If I know I'm going to create similar emails to send to dozens of people, I create a template that I can copy and paste for each new message. I swap out the personal details and write a custom note but use a template for the opening and closing.
For eBooks: If you're creating ebooks or downloadable resources to send to your subscribers, you need a template. Consider saving a template that includes your copyright info on page 2, an “updateable” table of contents on page 3, a few blank pages to be filled in later on pages 4 and 5, and a final page featuring an “About the Author” sections. There's really no need to recreate these every time you want to write a new ebook.
For Blog Templates: Blog posts and landing pages work the same way. Create a template that works and you can deliver quality content on a consistent basis. No need to worry about formatting, you've got a template you can use to guide you. (Want my blog post template? You can download it here for free)
For Newsletters: If you send newsletters to your subscribers and customers, stick with a consistent template. Don't change it up every time. If you want to split test the formatting of your newsletters, try the A/B testing tools in GetResponse and ActiveCampaign. When your clients get your newsletter, they should know where to find updates, contact info, coupons, etc.
For Autoresponders: If you're not using email marketing as part of your business, you've got a gap in your business and you should fix it. (I can help). If you are using autoresponders and dripping content to your subscribers, use templates. Deliver your content the same way to each person with the same interests. Find an email method and content system that works, and deliver the heck out of it.
Training / On-Boarding
Any time you bring on new teammates and employees you run the risk of diluting your quality of service.
Done right, however, and you can create a system that provides the same training to everyone who joins your team. From how they greet customers to how they answer the phone, from email signatures to the outfits they wear, your team should be consistent.
By training your new team members and creating a structured onboarding system, you can deliver an excellent experience to your clients regardless of who answers the phone or responds to an email.
Here's a brief overview of how to do it: Before you hire your first person, make a list of everything a new hire should know and believe. The “know” is how they'll perform; the “believe” is how well they'll adapt to your business's culture. When you train the first person, log the process – what works, what doesn't, and how you'd do it differently. Take what works, make the necessary adjustments, and now you have the beginnings of your onboarding process.
Every time your client interacts with your business you have a chance to connect with them in a meaningful way. (Tweet that!)
Done correctly and with consistency, every time your customers see your logo or hear about your brand, you reinforce their positive feelings about you and your business. Because of consistent branding over time, every time I see the Coca-Cola logo I think about enjoying a cold one and going to the movies. Coke has wonderful branding.
Consistent branding includes everything from colors and logos to fonts and how your website looks and feels. This includes formatting and where things are on your site, inside your store, and even within the emails you send.
Redbox does a good job of this. Every email they send follows the same format – featured movies and coupons on the top followed by new releases and then either upcoming movies or games. When I get a new email from Redbox I know what I'm going to get. I'm going to consistently get sold and marketed to, and I'm ok with that. Plus, the layout of the email is consistent regardless of the message's contents or the device I'm viewing it on.
The logo you use for your business should be consistent across every social media site. Your headshot should be the same on every profile.
If you have a specific font, use that font consistently between your blog posts, your pages, your newsletters and, if possible, even within the emails you send in your autoresponders. Whenever a customer sees something with your business name on it, they need to immediately know that it came from you.
Remember, consistency doesn't have to mean boring. You can be consistently creative, consistently high-quality, and even consistently offer impeccable service.
Consistency is about creating a system that will provide reliable results every time. Without systems, you cannot scale. If you can't scale your business, you'll be out of business.
Over to you! How have you provided a consistent experience to your customers? How have you used consistency to acquire new ones?