Customer Service! 

I’ve had this little book on my shelf for years.  Mary Gober was a speaker on PIMS many years ago but what with one thing and another I’ve only just got round to reading it.  The title:  The Art of Giving Quality Service.

The fact that this has gathered dust for the best part of 10 years could be interpreted as a general lack of concern on my part for giving quality service, or an assumption that there’s nothing I can learn about the subject.  Neither is true and having read the book there’s a lot for all of us to learn – because however good we are, we can all be better. 

Gober emphasises the vital importance of quality service to absolutely everyone in the business who gives service in one way or another to our clients. 

We know from our own experience that the quality of service in answering a telephone call or responding to an email enquiry left us deeply disappointed, and then looking elsewhere for a supplier, before we even got to the primary objective of the call. 

In financial planning, that’s not just a phone call handled badly by a receptionist having a bad day; it’s the loss of the lifetime value of a client who could have generated £50,000 or more (depending on their assets and their lifetime!) for your practice. 

The most interesting chapter is “what clients really want”:   
  • Customers need to feel they are in CONTROL, not being taken advantage of, manipulated or deceived. 
  • They need to feel that what they are doing is in pursuit of a GOAL which will bring happiness and satisfaction. 
  • They need to feel GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES, doing the right thing and not being foolish. 
  • Customers need to feel that they are being TREATED FAIRLY, especially when compared to others. 
  • Customers need to enjoy a FRIENDLY warm relationship with those they do business with, building trust and confidence in their suppliers. 
  • Customer need an UNDERSTANDING of what is happening and why, needing the information they want, when they want it. 
  • Customers also need SECURITY, which is why they hesitate to change providers.
  • They need APPROVAL AND RECOGNITION of their achievements and accomplishments. 
  • Customers need to feel they are IMPORTANT, and to have their time and activity given the attention it deserves. 
  • They need to feel APPRECIATED, especially if they invest a large amount of time, energy or money in something, needing to know that their business is valued. 
  • Customers need to feel a sense of BELONGING, feeling that they identify with and contribute to groups or organisations, that they are part of a bigger ‘family’.
  • Finally customers need HONESTY, leading to trust and confidence in the organisation. 
All of these are areas where our businesses are ideally placed to deliver all these customer needs.  So, how well do we deliver?  How well does each and every person in your business deliver?  And however good you are, can you make it even better?  After all, a business with delighted clients is also a business with many referrals, delighted staff and delighted business owners!
Gill Cardy, 25/04/2014