I take it as read that you are competent, qualified, ethical and professional. But are you also delivering an amazing client experience?
Paddi Lund is known as the crazy Australian dentist, whose unorthodox approach to customer care has completely re-written the rules of business. His starting point is that he wants his staff, customers and himself to be happy and enjoy their interactions.
Clearly, dentistry is a different type of service to advice but both are a purchase most people find quite stressful. Some find the emotional pain of talking about money even more unpleasant than the physical pain involved in dental procedures.
Lund reinvented his business by looking at his service from his customers’ perspective.
He smashed up his reception desk, installed a large coffee machine and an elaborate bone china set. He installed a bread oven from which each day they bake dental buns to give customers.
He built two large care lounges, with natural wood floors, real plants, soft lighting and comfortable chairs. Each lounge is staffed by a care nurse assigned to their own patients and responsible for making them feel relaxed, informed and valued.
As well as explaining the intended treatment, the nurse is also responsible for discussing the practice’s position on referrals, such as who they like working with and how many new clients they are able to take on.
By the time the customer walks into the treatment room they are usually smiling or laughing. When the treatment is finished the customer goes back to the care lounge with their care nurse to deal with payment and book follow-up appointments.
Lund works three days a week, has a locked front door, is not listed in the phone book or on the internet, only accepts new clients referred by existing ones and judges his client relationships by whether or not they make both parties happy.
He also earns about three times more than his peers who work longer hours.
So, think about your client experience. What happens before you meet? Is it easy and intuitive or cumbersome and time consuming? Are all staff who come into contact with clients friendly and attentive? Or are they harried, terse and disinterested?
Does your meeting room help the client feel relaxed and at home? Or is it stark, corporate, cold, starchy and uncomfortable? Do you and your colleagues dress in a way which makes the client feel reassured and confident in your abilities? Or are you too formal or too casual?
Do you explain ideas and advice in client-friendly ways, using engaging and visual communication? Or are you overwhelming them with reams of paper, bamboozling them with jargon and talking at them?
Lund talks about the “critical non-essentials”. These are the numerous small, but very important, things that go together to create an amazing client experience.
What worked 10 years ago is unlikely to work as well today. Your clients are continually having new and improved experiences with other suppliers of goods and services.
To survive and thrive, and command a premium price, you need to not just deliver on your clients’ expectations but exceed them. Everything matters – particularly the critical non-essentials.
Jason Butler is an expert in financial wellbeing. You can find him Tweeting @jbthewealthman