It’s no surprise when we set out to grow a business that we tend to approach it with an “arms wide open” mentality, ready to take in and serve whatever comes our way for the sake of evolving, learning and earning.
In the beginning it seems feasible that there’s no need for a defined model or method to the madness in how you service your clients. It might seem you don’t have enough clients to justify the time it can take to sit down and outline a model for how you can continue to make your clients happy, while working and growing your business. We often become victim to the almighty “Assumption Gods” thinking the effort of creating a client service model takes more time than it’s worth. However, not ALL clients are created equal. Some will make us more money than others, some will take more time than others and some refer us more business than others.
Over time, we realize we haven’t actually tracked when we last spoke to some of our clients. Did we send our best client a birthday greeting? A gift for their new baby? A housewarming gift for their new home—now that it’s been over one year?
What just happened? You have officially passed the point of being proactive with your clients, and crossed over into the dangerous territory of reacting to your clients.
Now you should worry—a lot.
Whatever the product or service you sell, one of the biggest mistakes in business is the tendency to discount the impact of a defined client service model. Which raises the question - what good is all of your hard work and amazing service if you don’t have a plan for keeping your clients happy and coming back for more? Even more critical - are you keeping the right clients to facilitate satisfaction and growth?
Here are some simple guidelines to help you create your client service model: Review your entire list of clientele – This IS tedious and time consuming but worth the initial investment. You really only have to do this ONCE. Afterwards, it’s just maintenance. As long as you continue to only work with the right people. Categorize your clients – Once you’ve scrubbed your list, categorize each client as an “A,” “B” or “C” priority, i.e., “A” = a prime client, “B” = a good client, worth “some investment of time” and “C” = is not a high priority but still worth keeping on the list. Identify clients & prospects to remove – Very important. In order to grow the business you want and deliver an overall experience that will set you apart from your competitors, you must spend your time on the right clients, and this means you may have to fire some of them. No one said it would be easy—but it will be WORTH it. Create your transition plan - Decide on how the conversation for transitioning some of your clients will go. Identify the partners who can be helpful in making this seamless for these exiting clients. Create a script--what you want to convey and how it will sound. Remember - it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Identify the elements of your model - What good is a client service model if it’s empty? Decide what actions and offerings you will use to complete your model to ensure you have satisfied clients. Build Your Model - Start aligning the elements of your model--who and how. This includes frequency of contact, levels of the experience and even types of communication. Input your clients - Start plugging your “A” clients and prospects into the model. Then review to determine how you will split your time and with whom, i.e., how high is their referral rate? Are they a center of influence, etc.? Then move to the “B” clients, and so on. Follow your model - Once created, stick with the model; communicate the model to your team and ensure it is followed by them The team must be on board--know who you’re serving, how you’re serving them, who’s serving whom and how often. Treat this model as an evolving plan - change it when you see the need, or come up with more awesome sauce to make your clients happy. Spend your time on the right people and prospects - Always keep them coming back for more.
And here’s a little crumb for all of the visual learners out there: