Another expert in the area of referrals, Joe Stumpf, likes to make the following distinction. Customers are people who do business with us on an ongoing basis. Clients are people who do business with us and who give us one referral. Advocates are people who do business with us and who continue to give us referrals over time. Of course, our goal should be to turn as many customers into advocates as possible. There are many critical things we must do to make this happen, two of which are: provide incredible service all the time, and let them know we value their help.
Your prospects or clients have high expectations of what you might do for them. But their perception of those who have served them in the past is not always positive and complimentary. To provide great service, you must first learn about their previous experiences with others in your industry (and related industries). You must also learn what concerns they bring to the equation and what they expect you to do for them. Only when you know these things, can you meet their expectations. Once you meet their expectations you can go on to exceed their expectations and turn them into advocates.
Make it a habit to ask every new client (or prospect) about why they chose you. Ask them about their past experiences. Get them to complain a little about others who have let them down (they want to tell you so you might as well ask them). Get them to share their service pet peeves. And help them articulate their vision for your future together. This line of questioning will do two things. First, it will open their window into what they expect from you. And just as importantly, they’ll appreciate you asking. Having this conversation will help them trust you more.
Written by Bill Cates. To read the full article, click here.