Elevating The Client Experience: How to Serve at the Highest Level

As a consumer, I recently had two vastly different experiences that highlighted the wide range of possible customer interactions, which got me thinking about the idea of serving those around us at the highest level.  

When certain people say “long story short,” you know it’s still going to be a looooong story. However, I’ll do my best to make this short and sweet.  

So here’s the skinny.  I went car shopping recently.  And let me first say that this wasn’t the used car dealer down the street – we’re talkin’ a world-renowned brand, and quite frankly, I expected my experience to be on par with the company’s reputation.  There’s a reason I work with certain brands, and I am happy to pay a premium to ensure that I feel taken care of.

I had the first appointment of the day, 9:00 a.m., to test drive the car.  I got there a little early, in true Virgo fashion.  9:00 rolls around, but the place still looks like a ghost town.  I started to wonder if I was the only one there.  Finally, the receptionist drifted over to the desk around 9:05 and told me the staff was in a meeting and that, hopefully, they’ll be done soon.

As 9:05 became 9:15,  I was taken into an office.  However, after waiting even longer, I was informed that there were no cars for me to test drive, despite their confirmation the night before.

I asked what my options were for locating the car I wanted and was told, “I don’t know what to tell you.” 

I just said thank you and left.

I called another dealer on the way out and told the receptionist what I was looking for.  She said she’d relay the message to a salesperson, and someone would get back to me.

No more than about five minutes after I left the message with the receptionist, one of the salesmen texted me AND called to introduce himself. He said he was super excited that I was coming, and he’d have the car I wanted to test drive waiting for me when I got there.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

And when I got there, the exceptional service continued.

I believe the truest measure of client service is how people FEEL.  When I’m on the consumer end of things, I ask myself, “Did I feel taken care of?” And when I’m on the serving side, I ask myself, “Did I make others feel taken care of?”  The key is emotion and feeling.

At the first dealer, I didn’t feel seen, heard, valued, or respected AT ALL.  They might as well have topped it off with, “You go figure it out yourself.”

I don’t expect people to be perfect, but I do expect a standard of care in the exceptional range. And when we really hone in on the people-side of things, the human experience, I believe we all can get there.  

While I could rattle off a list of process-oriented best practices for exemplary client service, my guess is that you already have plenty at your fingertips.

At the second dealer, I felt cared for BEFORE I got there.  They were super polished from the first moment.  I’s dotted and T’s crossed.  On-time.  On point.  Just ON.  You know what I mean.

When I’m serving, I strive to provide an experience where my clients and my community feel taken care of.  I want them to feel like I’m making their life easier.

I anchor not on MY objective, MY outcome, MY agenda, MY experience, but THEIRS.

And you want to know the best way to find out how others are feeling?  Ask.  Be vulnerable.  Lean into the hard conversations.  Stay with it.  Don’t hold yourself back in fear.  Amazing things happen when we choose to take a bit of a risk and open ourselves up to feedback.

This week I’d love for you to reflect on this idea of making others feel taken care of and be open to new ideas.  Here are a few questions to get you started:

  •   In what ways did I strive to make my client feel taken care of?
  •   In what ways can I stretch even more?
  •   Did I anticipate questions my client would ask in advance and have answers ready to go?
  •   Did I communicate clearly and effectively?
  •   Did I set realistic expectations?
  •   Did I keep the client informed of anything unexpected?
  •   Am I proud of how I showed up?
  •   What would I do differently?
  •   How did I make the client feel?
  •   If I were in the client’s shoes, would I feel that I had been treated well?

We’re at a critical juncture in business and leadership.  In a results-driven, performance-indicator based world, we must be intentional about our commitment to the human side of life and business – the heart and soul of our businesses and the people – and treat everyone we meet with exquisite care.

And one last reminder…you have choices.  If you’re not being treated well, speak up–advocate for yourself.  Have a real convo.  Honor yourself.  Don’t wait for somebody to do that for you.

I’d love to explore this idea with you further and give you some practical ideas for elevating the client experience. 

Have a wonderful week.