I’m afraid I’m old enough to remember a Simon & Garfunkel single with that title. It was the ‘B’ side of “Bridge over Troubled Water” (1970). (Do you even know what a “’B side’” was?!) The duo had in mind a very different world then, and the song is actually quite pessimistic, but some truths hold good today.
Anybody worth their salt should be aiming at customer satisfaction. Doesn’t matter what industry or trade they’re in. That’s the bottom line, surely. Wouldn’t you agree?
Of course, it’s not always easy to achieve this. Things do go wrong, so you have to be able to respond appropriately. It’s essential to be willing to listen to the client’s grievance and to try and understand it. If you can put things right there and then, that’s got to be the best solution. Showing the client respect and empathy will normally appease them and a satisfactory resolution may actually enhance your reputation.
Sometimes the client may seem to be “wrong”. (But isn’t the client “always right”, actually?) Well, on occasion, the experienced supplier may be able to advise what might not work, or what might be more effective. However, they should not bludgeon their views on to the client. Nobody likes to be patronised, and even the experienced professional can misjudge things.
I am not alone in believing that a supplier should aim for “value added plus”. It’s not just a question of satisfying the client, but of delighting them.
Shortly after conducting a recent wedding for a lovely couple, I received this e-mail:
Thank you for making the day such a Wonderful experience for us, what you did for us was beyond brilliant and exceeded all our expectations!
So what should a supplier be doing, to deliver that “wow” factor?
What’s the Secret?
Of course, there’s no magic formula – not least, because each profession and each supplier is different. However, there are a few principles that will apply generally.
In my field, I encourage and ask a lot of questions in our initial meeting or conversation. The client may be nervous and needs to understand what I can offer. I certainly need to understand what they actually want. On occasion, I need to scratch beneath the surface.
If they don’t really know what choices are available, it’s my job to explain this.
I aim to ensure that my clients normally understand my process (eg sending them drafts that they can change, if they want). That includes payment terms, Ts & Cs., and what I do – and do not – offer. It’s important to be transparent. If there might be any extras, then I’ll be up-front about it.
I don’t want the client to receive any unpleasant surprises. That includes on the day. I ensure that they approve beforehand every word that I am going to utter at the ceremony.
On occasion, there might be a lot of time between agreeing the ceremony and the big day itself. Keeping in contact – even irregularly – gives peace of mind. It can also serve as a nudge if the client still has something to do (eg write their own vows!).
It’s also important to be accessible, patient and helpful throughout the process.
On the day, I always try to arrive in very good time, check everything carefully and do what I have to do calmly and without fuss. I shall have practised the ceremony, so I can expect to present it professionally and beautifully. I always remember that the event is all about my clients, not about me. I aim to keep them calm and happy.
If you want to find out more about how I can deliver that “wow” factor, please give me a call!