photo by chaz ferret
“In all, professional relationships with clients have been increasingly recast as business relationships with customers. In a world where every user of services is seen as a customer, every provider of services becomes a seller. Put another way, when the provider becomes a hammer, the customer is seen as a nail.”
John C Bogle, Enough
Night and Day.
Isn’t that what you do, regretfully?
I am not naive – far from it – but with all this talk about relationships, clients first and superpleasing, one message appears lost: You are in business to serve.
But do you ever hear much, if any, of that talk?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you remove all sense of business – or being in business – but absent clients, you would have no business.
And if you are not serving those clients to the very best of your ability, come Hell and High Water (especially in the current choppy seas) then you don’t deserve to be in business.
Way too much is taken for granted. In particular, the goodwill that has been garnered over many years, gets tossed around with such abandon, it’s a wonder some of the founding fathers haven’t risen from the dead and launched an inquisition.
Service doesn’t come neatly packaged either.
It boils down to a few essentials:
- Adopting the Golden Rule in all your dealings, even with the clients that you find overbearing, irritating and getting way to much of your time for the financial return;
- Finding people that care less about what’s in it for them (I know it’s hard), and attracting people who go the extra mile and some more;
- Hammering home the wrong metrics. How many times do you reward for a job well done? Just imagine that every client was asked to give feedback as the job went along, how different would be the outcome and your complaints record;
- Start apologising more when you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, rather than looking for someone or something else to blame;
- Stand on your service. Don’t be weasel in your words. If service is everything then the client should be told they have the opportunity to pay nothing or what they think the job’s worth. That might just sharpen things up;
- Be grateful for the opportunity to serve – yep you heard right! Just because you trained as a professional, doesn’t make you better than anyone else, including the people in your charge;
- Read more widely. Look at some of the people you admire, and I don’t just mean the financially successful role models. One of the most inspiring books I have read is The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown;
- Find a mentor who you can work with on getting better. Service is intrinsically a personal thing, and if you have low emotional intelligence, then you can’t expect to get better all by yourself;
- Don’t take anything for granted. Your reputation – yes that old Brand You stuff again – is EVERYTHING!
I am sure we all have ‘stories’ to demonstrate our commitment to the service cause, but you need to hold to those memories every day and not get subsumed by the constant Blah Blah about profit and the like (for who?).
To serve is what you do.
The moment that gets trumped you will question everything.
The money may be good but is it enough to keep you focused on what lies ahead, and grow your practice? Nothing is worse that perpetuaing the myth of greed.
A profit motive shouldn’t trump service.
Excellence should be your watchword in everything you do.