Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You Lost Me at "Hello"

Feeling a little faceless?
I've written before about the fact that your clients are a great place to start your networking. Making friends out of them can go a long way toward building a successful web of connections for your business. That being said, Customer Service (or whatever name you might use for the process of reaching out to help your clients) becomes a form of networking. Do it right and you will get their love and respect (and referrals) do it wrong and you not only lose their future business, but also that of just about anyone they talk with.

I've got an example of the latter today. It's not completely egregious, but it definitely caught my attention.

Lisa and I recently switched insurance providers. I won't go into the details of why or who, but suffice it to say that there were enough issues that it became worth our while. Not long after we switched to the new provider, we got a lovely letter from them that went something like:
Dear Client,
Thank you for providing us with an opportunity to serve your insurance needs. We appreciate your business!
This letter of introduction is to provide you with information regarding customer service with our company...
I pretty much stopped reading at this point. Why? Because the form of the letter, or should I say, "form letter", didn't even have our name on it. I'm sure that they weren't being intentionally ironic, but what these few lines at the beginning of the letter told me about their customer service is that we should count ourselves lucky if they treat us as a nameless, faceless account.

The letter wasn't even signed by anybody, just by the company as a whole.

Now, I'm sure that this company will give us the personalized attention that we would prefer. I'm sure they have individual account representatives who personally care for each and every one of the individuals who've signed up with them. I'm sure we'll never be put on hold for hours on end in order to ask the simplest questions about our coverage, because I'm sure they cherish each and every one of their clients as valued and important members of a larger community.

I'm sure.

So, while I approach my family's future health care with a touch of trepidation, I think I also need to look at all of my business systems. I want every interaction with my clients to tell them that they are definitely valued members of my network and that I hope they gain as much from their association with me as I do from them.

How about you? Are there any areas of your business which might be putting the chill on relationships with customers and clients?


6 comments:

  1. Greg: In my experience with you, I would say that you EXCEL at customer relations. You definitely walk the talk and as someone who has done business with you, I really appreciate this.

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  2. Greg: This is a GREAT article! I have had an experience almost like this. I had a financial planner and I switched to another financial planner because after I met with this second planner she sent me a personalized card. I also received an award and it was in the paper the next week and it was a VERY small article. However, she sent the article to me and said "Way to go!" That was priceless and she is now my one and only financial planner because she took that time to say good job and she did not have to do that.

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    1. Hi, Kendra. Isn't it funny how those small efforts can really cement a relationship? And how long did it really take her to do those things? Not much.

      Networking is often about those small actions that really show that we care about our connections.

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  3. Hi Greg! Thanks for this article. I must say, that I've questioned myself about this in the past ie: the wisdom of becoming "friends" with my customer - especially when you have a really good and special customer or client. It's like that person would be a good friend even if you didn't do business together.
    Hope you don't mind if I tweeted this..

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    1. Thanks, Connie.

      Connecting with clients as if they were friends? What will happen next -- we start actually enjoying our jobs?

      That's crazy talk. ;-)

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