I keep coming back to encounters at restaurants to make analogies to business services...
I can't forget the first time I set foot in a Waffle House. Everybody shouted out hello!
That's a great way to feel your patronage is appreciated.
Does a server come up to you as soon as you enter a restaurant, smile and asks to seat you?
How quickly does a glass of water or your drinks appear after the menus are distributed?
Does the server come back within a short period of time to take your order?
Are the premises clean and attractive? Is it too noisy, are the decorations, furniture, lighting in harmony with the theme of the restaurant?
Is the silverware and plate ware clean, are the napkins nice, the condiment containers also clean?
Are the food courses brought out within a reasonable time? Are they as ordered and at the proper temperature?
Does the server fill glasses in a perfunctory manner? Is he or she available to ask a question or make a comment about the food or service?
Does the manager come by and say hello and ask how everything is going?
If a high-class restaurant are the servers following protocol?
Are your servers a little too chummy and do you really want to hear their life story and play by plays every time you come in?
Was the bill accurate and left when you were completely finished with your meal?
Hopefully, all goes well and you can definitely recommend this restaurant to others.
Imagine if things were not up to snuff. How easy it is to spread the negative news of your disappointment! People are hypercritical of restaurants. What impression will clients have of your services, your demeanor, your attention to detail?
- Assuming a referral or new potential client: Greet your clients in a positive manner. Be friendly but not theatrical... If they don't have your card you might wish to offer it and a brochure to show quickly what you have done for others and how you can do the same for them.
- If at your office it may be nice to offer them a drink of some kind, especially if very hot. Walk them to your conference room if greeted at a foyer. Some quick small talk is fine. Your place of business must be impeccably outfitted. Make sure bathrooms are clean.
- Ask what you can do to assist them. Be patient and inquisitive to get as many facts in order. They will tell you exactly what they want done.
- Listen carefully, take notes, photos, ask questions to see if there are any other issues that would impinge on the request.
- Show them your 'menu' of services. Explain what you can do to solve their 'problem'. Offer alternatives and options. If you have a multi-media presentation, now is the time. 'Always Be Selling' needs to be subtly executed. Don't serve the 'meal' before finding out exactly what they really need.
- Hopefully, you are the 'point person' but if you need assistance from a superior, explain why you are asking for some 'clarification' or 'additional information'.
- Take the 'order' and if a standard contract applies you can start to fill it out if this is a standard service. You can ask for a day or two to put a customized proposal together or decide to visit their house or project first to see exactly what is being proffered in order to make the best recommendations and plan of action.
- Attitude: Professional. Do not get overly friendly unless you are certain this will be accepted. Gaining trust is important but don't overdo chumminess. Be pleasant. Read the situation.
- Respond immediately to phone calls and find out exactly what information they are seeking at that time. Promise answers shortly. Ask more questions to make the terms of the agreement clear and to indicate you understand what they want done and they understand the scope of your services.
- Execute the service and advise step by step what is happening. Send updates periodically whether asked for or not. Occasional site visits, whether or not required or specified, illustrates your continued interest.
- When the contract is finalized, continue to followup and stay in touch. A satisfied client will remember you very well and will gladly recommend you to friends and associates without prompting.++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Never in my University training/education was I advised on how to personally deal with clients. While we have all qualified for our licenses, are we qualified to effectively deal with people directly? All the theory and calculation is necessary but how to administer it is like 'bed manners' for a physician. Empathy is very important and may get you further than technical knowhow.