6 TOOLS to Create that Step Above the Rest
“Congratulations on your new position!”
“I heard you were sick, and I hope you’re feeling better!”
“How did your kid’s soccer team do this weekend in the semi-finals?”
We all love getting messages like these from our friends and family. Whether it’s in a text or email, a phone call or even a reply posted on Facebook…
What makes us feel so good about receiving this kind of communication?
In my experience, people like to feel seen and heard. Messages like those above are personal and reassure us that we are thought of and cared for.
All in all…It makes us feel like we MATTER.
So let’s talk about the other side of this. Being the sender, not the recipient.
Why is it so invaluable for us to create and maintain a level of communication and action like this that can help make others feel that THEY matter? That they are seen and heard? That we are here for them for whatever they may need?
To me, this is just how relationships ought to work. If you value people and show them that value, the rewards can work both ways.
A business relationship is no different. In fact, how you show your clients that they matter, can be the difference between keeping a client long-term or losing them completely.
In that same book, Coleman reveals 6 tools you can easily utilize to communicate with your clients. That’s what I want to focus on in this blog article issue.
I’ll share examples of how some very successful companies (including Business Nitrogen), use these tools too.
It’s important to understand that these tools, while incredibly useful (and undeniably valuable), are only part of the client experience.
These tools combined with setting the proper tone with your clients (so that they really feel they matter), can work wonders.
Tool #1: In Person
When you’re just getting to know someone (in this case, a new client) it can be challenging to decipher TONE when using text or email to communicate.
Why? Because tone is sometimes very hard to read. You might get a message back with a ‘Thanks!’ or ‘Will do.’ In cases like this, something as simple as an exclamation mark versus no exclamation mark can leave us guessing as to how they received our message. That’s why being able to sit down across from someone in person is so vital when establishing a new relationship.
Just showing up sends a strong message that you are taking time out of your busy schedule, to connect with them.
Plus, body language is EVERYTHING. Being able to read someone’s body language in person is an incredibly powerful tool. Seeing your client’s reactions in real-time allows you to make adjustments in the conversation or your approach as far as how you deliver your message. Maybe you see their eyes wander and you know to quickly shift to a new idea. They might look concerned or hesitant about something you’re explaining about their future with your company. Their eyes might light up when you give them the news that good things are coming up.
At the same time, YOUR body language can help them feel reassured, excited, and energized about this new relationship. It’s much harder to convey sincerity through a text message than it is when you can sit down in person face-to-face. In-person is the strongest way to truly express yourself in a way that can give your clients the genuine assurance you intend to give them.
One of the reasons why I’m a member of so many masterminds is for this very reason. The in-person connection that occurs when meeting face-to-face. There is a different level of connection that occurs…
Recently, my entire team met for our annual retreat here in Atlanta. To say it was powerful to have us all together in one place for an entire week would be the understatement of the year. Some team members met each other for the first time at this retreat. The deeper bonding among the team during this time was absolutely priceless.
Tool #2: Email
We’ve been using email for so long that it’s easy to take it for granted. It’s a quick, easy, and inexpensive tool that allows us to reach people around the globe in an instant.
Establishing a tone (especially early on), that is personal and purposeful in your emails, is the important groundwork to establish from the get-go.
And though we use it daily, there is so much more you can do with this tool that you may not even be aware of…
One of the best things about email is the automation capability. With automation, comes the ingenious ability to track open rates, link clicks, unsubscribes, etc. There are hundreds of email tracking programs available to us these days to get you the stats you need.
Tracking is vital as it allows us to not only see when an email is opened but how often. Or if a link is clicked, and how often. imagine knowing how often your prospective client or new client has clicked on that link or opened your email.
Information is power.
Data drives decisions.
And knowing how many people are interacting with your email communications gives you an edge as far as your future communications with them. You can find out if you are overwhelming them with too many emails, or if a certain promotion works better than another. Are they taking the action you wanted them to in the email or not? Maybe you need to change where that link is an email or make it more tempting to click.
At Business Nitrogen, we use email to communicate with our clients in two ways. For clients, we are actively working on projects for, we use email almost every day to communicate objectives, give updates, and request needed materials.
We also use email to nurture our client and prospect bases. For example, you are reading this blog article. We send it out religiously by email every week to create value for our clients. We haven’t missed a week in over a year.
Using email is a great communication tool. But using it wisely makes it an invaluable tool.
Tool #3: Mail
This one is simple, straightforward and one of the oldest effective communication tools out there.
Did you know that The Pony Express ran for eighteen months starting in 1860? Shortly after the USPS was established. It was a time when communication was so important between businesses, and families that people rode across hundreds of miles on horseback to deliver news, or for trade. It took time, effort, and energy to get your message to someone.
Think of how far we’ve come to using mail as a way to keep in touch with family, friends, prospects, and clients.
There is an undeniable personal touch to something handwritten. And because it’s a fairly antiquated form of communication, sending something handwritten to your client is a way of standing out and creating a WOW experience for them. We’re all looking for ways to separate ourselves from the pack and cut through the noise of so much electronic communication.
I know when I go to my mailbox at home, there is something a little thrilling about seeing an unexpected card with handwriting on the front shuffled within the standard bills and junk mail.
I will give credit where credit is due…Some junk mail companies have gotten really savvy in using real-looking handwriting fonts. They do this because they know the power of that personal touch. But know this. It’s hard to fool people, and nothing quite beats the real thing.
A friend shared with me, that after his mother died, he was going through boxes in the attic. He came across a stack of handwritten letters that his grandparents had written one another over the course of their fifty-year marriage.
Back then, that was how people communicated with one another. Before all of this electronic type of communication (email, text, etc.)
When was the last time you wrote a personal letter to someone? When was the last time you sat down and took out a pen and paper and just wrote a letter or note to someone you cared about?
Think about how your client might feel receiving something like that from you. At Business Nitrogen, we use a very cool online service called LovePop. It’s a killer resource for sending cards conveniently that really WOW’s our clients.
Keep in mind, all forms of communication have value but just because we have faster ways of getting a message to someone doesn’t always mean better.
Tool #4: Phone
They’ve gone from the desk or the booth in the lobby, right into our pockets and purses. Everyone has a phone.
Being accessible anywhere you go is the vital connection piece between you and your client.
Keep in mind, not everyone likes being on the phone and it’s important to know your client and how they prefer to communicate. That being said, if your client knows that you’re a phone call away, you have a huge advantage. It brings them peace of mind and security.
Much like communicating in person, a phone call allows you to hear the tone in your clients voice, while also allowing them to hear yours. Again, sincerity, compassion and confidence are hard at times to convey or decipher over text or email. With a phone call, you have this advantage.
Did you know…
An email takes an average of 90 minutes to read?
A text can take up to 90 seconds?
A phone call is instantaneous.
When in doubt, make that phone call. It shows the other person that what you have to say just couldn’t wait! Make that phone call to let them know you just saw something that reminded you of them and you just had to share it.
Super important…When you do use a phone as a communication tool, remember that listening is just as important as talking.
Southwest Airlines customer service has continued to set the bar for this year after year. At Southwest, customer service is at the forefront of their mission and culture.
According to a case study, Southwest Airlines employs some basic principles to ensure great customer service.
- Be responsive to issues
- Communicate beyond complaints
- Get to know your customers
- Keep a positive attitude
All of these are pretty self-explanatory. Clients don’t generally reach out to tell you that everything is hunky dory (at least a majority of the time!). It’s usually because they have a need, and issue, or a challenge that needs to be addressed. How you take in that information and REACT to it is crucial.
Southwest Airlines representatives are instructed to use their given script to talk you through resolving your issue, but they are also encouraged to go off script as they go through the process. They’ll ask how your weekend was, or how the weather is that day in your particular location.
Even when you’re frustrated or panicked about your flight being rebooked, they find a way to stay positive and helpful. They get to know you by asking leading questions and listening to your answers so they can respond with compassion and care.
So when you have the opportunity to get on a phone call with one of your clients,, think about how you can use that time to get to know your client, stay positive, and help resolve their needs if there is a challenge.
Tool #5: Video
If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how valuable a video is!
The other day, I was walking downtown to get lunch. Out of nowhere this tiny dog came running up to me to say hi. It was so small it looked like a stuffed animal! After my initial response (which was a combination of surprise and joy) my mind immediately went to thinking about a client I had a meeting with the previous week.
We went off on a tangent about dog people versus cat people, which then led to a ‘what is your favorite dog’ conversation. She happens to LOVES little tiny toy poodles. I whipped out my phone and asked the dog’s owner if I could take a video of her pup to send to a friend. She agreed, I took the video and then thanked her and said goodbye to her pup. I then quickly pulled up my contacts and sent the video to my client. She wrote back a few minutes later with tons of smiley and heart emojis and told me that I made her day! We had a brief but great back and forth catch up.
There was no script. It was completely informal and personalized. There was no studio lighting and I’m sure not considered “camera ready” but THAT’S what made it PERFECT. All of its imperfections made it feel like that handwritten note I mentioned earlier.
A good time to send a quick video message is right after you’ve transitioned your prospective customer into a new client. It’s a great way to welcome them to the family. At Business Nitrogen, we send new clients a welcome video from key team members each saying ‘hi’ or ‘welcome’ and a little tidbit about themselves. It’s a fun way to engage with our brand new client and at the same time, add some personality and introduce them to the faces and personalities of team members that will be working with them.
Here’s the thing…You have your phone with you wherever you go. Make it a tool and become a mini-filmmaker. Use it to send a simple, personalized message to your client.
Tool #6: Presents!
I don’t know a single person that doesn’t love getting presents. The most impactful present is one that is personal, creative, and meaningful. Giving a gift can be a positive and unique impression you can make on your client.
But let’s back up a moment. When do you give a gift? How big or small a gift are we talking about here? How do I know what gift to give?
You’re always on the right track celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones. Thanks to Facebook, we can find out practically anyone’s birthday. It’s also a great way to find out this person’s interests, hobbies, and likes (therefore making it easier to figure out what to get them!)
But Facebook isn’t the only source of information on people. Simply asking people in conversations can yield the same results. The important step here, is to keep track.
A woman I know works for a high end interior design firm based in NYC. Customer experience is a huge part of her job. She could easily be one of the greatest gift givers I’ve ever met. She told me that she sets up alerts on her phone to notify her of when a customer’s birthday is coming up. She explained further that she included a note to herself about what she has sent them in the past, what their interests are and how much she is budgeted to spend on the gift.
Wow. Impressive. What a simple, and super-organized and efficient way to AVOID:
- Forgetting a client’s birthday or remembering at the last minute and scrambling to send them something/anything
- Sending them a duplicate gift
- Sending them a gift she “thinks” they will like
What a great way to get to know your client and keep detailed records of things they get excited about.
Finding a unique and personalized gift sends a personal message. Your client wants to feel like you really know them, and that in a way they are a friend as well as a client.
Milestones are a great way to say thank you to your clients and to celebrate wins…To remind them why they picked you to work with, and that you appreciate their business.
We like to celebrate milestones with all our clients. Recently, we sent one of our clients a bottle of champagne with a card that read, “You did it!”. When they first became a client, we established a monthly revenue goal they wanted to hit after working with us for 6 months. After a very successful challenge our team designed for them, we not only hit that goal, we hit it a lot sooner than expected (2 months sooner!). So we wanted to congratulate them.
I like to think of presents and gifts not as marketing tools, but as relationship builders. This is all about your client. It should be customized to their likes and tastes. Having a calendar and reminder with important dates for gift-giving is a great way to stay on top of things.
The power of a random gift shouldn’t be overlooked either. Sending flowers or cookies “just because” has the added element of surprise (as they aren’t expecting it). A gift also doesn’t have to be extravagant. After signing a new client, simply sending them a “welcome to the family” card with a Starbucks gift card inside is a great way to show appreciation..
There are lots of companies out there that also give back to the community. A swag bag I got from a recent event, included a little bracelet and a card explaining that 40% of every piece of jewelry they sell, goes to a charitable organization. I loved that and would consider that a great client gift. It shows the client that I appreciate them AND shows them that I also care about charitable causes. It’s a win/win.
Gifting is a great way of getting a client, onboarding a client, and keeping a client for life.
All of these tools are tools at your disposal. Some of them you use all the time, some you use seldomly and some you never use at all (but it’s good to have them just in case).
The point is that there are simple and accessible tools at your disposal. The better you get at knowing what tool is best for the job, (and all the different ways you can use them to your advantage), puts you many steps ahead of everyone else out there.
And just a quick side note…While these tools are incredibly powerful for creating bonds and lasting relationships with your clients, they’re not exclusive to just them. Think about how you might use these 6 tools with team members in your own company. You’ll find that these tools accomplish just as much when it comes to communicating and building relationships with your team members and partners.
I hope these 6 tools come in handy and I hope you use them wisely and creatively in all aspects of your business and personal life!
To your success,