by Tony Vidler
In an ideal world all of our clients would become active advocates for us…and each client advocate would be the key driver of new business and growth in our practice, wouldn’t it? Our clients would be so in love with how our advice and expertise has positively changed their world that they’d be telling their story to anyone who would listen and doing all of our marketing for us…
…that is in an ideal world of course. There are lots of reasons why some clients will never become brand advocates no matter how wonderful they think you are. But then, there are lots of clients who could become advocates if we worked at it thoughtfully.
There are 5 attributes, or perhaps values, we must develop in our own business in order to create a culture whereby we give clients the right reasons to become advocates, or Die Hard Fans.
All of us have experienced a service or product at some point in our lives that was so good (in our own experience) that we raved about it. A restaurant I ALWAYS visit when in that town….an architect’s work on our new home….a board member who brought utter clarity…an insurance broker who is an exceptional at just handling everything for me (and who I would never dream of leaving!)….these are things I’ve raved about, or “brands I’ve become a Die Hard Fan for” over the years.
What they all have in common are:
It is worth noting that not all of these elements are what might be considered WOW factors. It is simplistic to think that advocates are developed only by delivering WOW. That is a necessary component in the ultimate development of an advocate – but it is not something which must be a regular objective. The risk in perpetually trying to creat the new WOW is that any WOW’s become the normal service expectation. So the real customer experience is built upon delivering on the fundamentals to begin with, and having the occasional WOW thrown in. The initial perception of “fair value” on the part of the client is a key part of creating the cutlure of cleint advocacy too.
Even if we achieve this I will be the first to say that it is highly unlikely that your typical professional services firm can create a cult-like following which is so powerful that your Die Hard Fans brand themselves to be seen as part of your tribe…
But creating a brand cult is not really the objective is it? It might be awesome if that happened, but we really don’t need clients to tattoo themselves with our logo’s.
The objective is simply to have customers who are delighted enough to enthusiastically endorse you and your work without incentivisation or prompting.
To create a business that has a high probability of creating a high proportion of advocates amongst its clientele:
1. Ensure “fair or reasonable value” is established at the outset of an engagement. The client must believe at the outset that there is a good value exchange to begin with.
2. Create a Customer-focused Culture. Inside the practice there must be unity, consistent standards, and an ethos of service embraced by the entire team.
3. Proactive Listening. We must be actively engaged in listening to each customer and interpreting what their real needs or issues are (even if they are not well verbalised), and then acting appropriately in accordance with our customer-focused-ethos.
4. Be alert to trends or consistent themes. A significant part of creating a WOW experience for clients is simply acting in anticipation…or delivering to their needs or wants before the customer has even expressed them. Being able to anticipate accurately is typically the result of intelligent analysis of trends of recurring issues or themes.
5. Execute decisively and with precision. Each and every service function, or customer touch point, needs to be delivered with quality and speed. So too does every Act Of Awesomeness. By definition it cannot be an Act Of Awesomeness if it is delivered poorly or tardily. That would be an Act Of Ordinary-ness.
Get these five steps right and you are in with a very solid chance of creating a practice that clients do rave about…unprompted and enthusiastically advocating for you and your business.