The competition in your industry is fierce.
Chances are there are a dozen or more businesses in your community that provide the same service that you do. So, how do you set yourself apart from the competition, and, how do you create a client base that’s full of raving fans?
It’s not always about what you do or how you do it. How you make people feel when they work with you is perhaps even more important. The infamous quote, “People do business with people they know, like, and trust” is a universal constant, and it pays to keep this in mind every day you open your office door.
Ask yourself if you would rather have people work with you solely because they need the service you provide, or would you prefer that they choose you because they value you, trust you, and genuinely enjoy working with you?
Most people prefer the latter. And, to get to the point where you inspire your clients to get here takes some work. We’ve outlined 7 types of client interactions that will help your business create raving fans.
Some of these ideas are incredibly simple and can be implemented today. Others require planning. Choose what works best for your current situation, and then pick at least one to start doing right away.
1.Involve them in a Project
When your clients can take part in something bigger than just themselves, it fosters a sense of belonging and they’ll feel proud to be associated with your office. Some projects can even serve to make the world a better place. Here are some examples to get you started in the brainstorming process:
Gratitude Wall – This project is typically done during the Thanksgiving holiday, but you can do it at any time of year. Some offices use a giant chalkboard, and people write on it. Others dedicate a blank wall and clients use Post-It notes to express what they’re grateful for.
One of the most creative implementations of this idea we’ve seen was an office that used temporary wallpaper. The staff provided paper cut-outs of leaves in fall colors and clients wrote what they were thankful for. The leaves were then placed on the wall and served as a reminder for everything that people were grateful for.
Again, this exercise doesn’t require a holiday, and it can work year-round. We recommend having a dedicated wall or surface in your office with the headline “I’m Grateful For…” and invite your patients and clients to participate.
Another creative spin on this project is to switch the terminology from gratitude to affirmations. If you are trying to promote confidence among your clients or help them to appreciate who they are as a person, then asking them to write down something positive can inspire them to see the best in themselves.
Beach Clean-Up – Cleaning up local beaches can unite a community as well as your clients. This project is a massive win for everyone involved. The beach gets cleaned up, and you and your team can feel good that you’ve made a difference. If you are based in a coastal community, then you already know that keeping beaches clean and pristine for wildlife and personal enjoyment is a high-profile goal, and many residents would love to help with this cause, but they don’t know where to start or who to enlist for help.
By taking the lead, you’re helping your clients do something that they’ve wanted to do already. This activity could also be a useful networking event for referrals, and your clients can even get to know each other better, too.
Picture Day – Take the lead from orthodontist offices, and post pictures of your clients and patients, with their permission, of course. Instead of doing the classic “before and after” photos, though, we suggest a different approach. One of our favorites is to have client testimonials posted on your wall, either in a lobby, waiting room, or highly-trafficked hallway.
Ask your clients to write a short statement about the benefit they achieved by working with you and provide a photo of themselves. Alternatively, you can have the picture taken in your office. Your clients get to share their story with likeminded individuals, and these “reviews” can serve as a powerful buying signal for prospective clients and patients visiting your office who haven’t decided to work with you yet. Weave helps you easily collect and monitor reviews on Google and Facebook. These reviews can be some of the best marketing for your business.
9 out of 10 people check online reviews before choosing a business
Weave helps you easily collect and monitor reviews on Google and Facebook. These reviews can be some of the best marketing for your business.Schedule Demo
2.Celebrate Birthdays and Anniversaries
Keep track of client and patient birthdays, and make sure you acknowledge them. An email, handwritten card or special offer can all work to make them feel special.
In addition to their birthdays, also celebrate their anniversary, which is the date that they began doing business with you. This information is easy to track in a CRM, and a small gesture of acknowledgment can go a long way toward enhancing your level of care or service.
3.Say, “Thank You.”
These two simple words are some of the most powerful in the English language, yet it’s easy to forget how important they are. By telling people “thank you,” you communicate that you appreciate them.
There are countless ways to show your appreciation, whether it’s a simple verbal expression or a physical gift.
- Just say it: Tell your clients and patients “thank you” regularly. Let them know at the start or end of their appointment, “Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to see me” or “Thank you for scheduling this time today to take care of your health.”
- Write it down: A handwritten note sent in the mail stands out from the bills and junk mail most people have become accustomed to seeing. You don’t need to pen an elaborate essay. A simple thank you card with a genuine expression of gratitude is enough to bring a smile to the recipient’s face and make the person glad they chose to work with you.
- Add a small gift: A small token of your appreciation can also make your clients and patients feel extra special. A gift card to a local coffee shop or a pair of movie tickets cost little, but they are a powerful signal that shows your clients you’re thinking of them and appreciate your relationship with them.
- Recognition: Acknowledge the importance of a client or patient on your website or a social media post (with their permission). There are virtually infinite approaches you can take, depending on your office and the specific situation. For example, you can share that a family has been seeing you for three generations and thank them for their loyalty. Another idea is to highlight a client who has achieved stellar results by working with you and say thank you for involving you in their journey.
4.Solve Problems Painlessly
No matter how hard you work to provide stellar and exemplary service, there’s bound to be a dissatisfied client from time to time. It’s possible that you or someone in your office made a mistake. Or, your client might have been having a bad day and interpreted something you did as an error or an insult. Regardless of how it happened, the way you react and respond can be the difference between losing the client or turning them into a raving fan.
For most issues, the following approach works well to resolve the situation:
- Address it right away. Don’t wait for a client to forget about what happened or move on before acknowledging the problem.
- Take ownership. Resist the temptation to point blame at someone or throw someone under the proverbial bus. Instead, acknowledge what happened and take responsibility.\
- A genuine “I’m sorry this happened” can a long way in smoothing things over.
- Present a solution. Though an apology goes a long way, if there’s nothing to back it up, then it can seem empty. After you apologize, explain what you will do to fix the problem and prevent it from happening in the future.
Example: A physical therapy client calls the day after her appointment, complaining of soreness and accusing the therapist of being overly rough or not following protocols.
A helpful response would be to say something like, “I am really sorry you are in pain. We have precise protocols designed to achieve healing and results, but if you’re not feeling well, we must have done something wrong. Please come back into our office, and our most senior therapist will supervise your next visit. Again, I am so sorry you are hurting, and we will do everything in our power to make you feel better.” You could also offer to reimburse her for her last visit or provide her next visit free of charge.
When someone complains, they mostly just want to be heard. Listen patiently to the person’s concerns and ask follow-up questions like, “Is there anything else?” Allow them to explain thoroughly why they’re upset. If they feel like they’ve been heard, and your responses are genuine, it could strengthen the relationship, and you could end up transforming this complaint into a rave review.
5.Form an Elite Club
Most everyone wants to feel important and achieve VIP status. Flying first class, having an American Express Black Card or not having to wait in line all denote that someone is in an exclusive class or group.
The criteria you choose for allowing a client or patient to get VIP status could have to do with their longevity, the number of referrals they’ve provided or some other classification that’s relevant to your office. You could give them unique gifts like promotional hats and t-shirts or an exclusive discount based on the frequency of them using your services.
6.Host an Annual Event
Annual events draw a big crowd, strengthen the community, and are fun to participate in. Your office could either organize or sponsor an event and promote it among the community and to your client base. It could be an Easter Egg Hunt, a Fun Run, or a Concert in the Park. Anything noteworthy and local can bring everyone together and show your commitment to the community you serve.
7.Write It Down
While organizing a Fun Run is a major endeavor, not everything that sets you apart has to be such a grand gesture. Sometimes the simple things that no one else is thinking of can be enough to inspire unwavering loyalty among clients or patients.
One of the best ways to demonstrate that your clients are being heard is to write down what they say. Make a note of any questions or comments during an office visit or consult, and then repeat their statements or questions back to them to make sure you heard them correctly.
Most of us have been in a restaurant where a waiter does not write down our order. Inevitably, something gets messed up. Your first thought is likely something along the lines of, “If you had written it down, you would have gotten it right.” It’s frustrating, and it happens again and again.
Imagine now that it’s your patient or client who is telling you something important, and you’re not writing it down. If you see dozens or hundreds of people in a week, the chance of you remembering every detail they tell you is slim to none. Writing it down ensures that you’ll have a record of what they said, and it can also help you understand and comprehend what they’re saying more thoroughly.
These notes also provide you with written documentation of anything discussed or any follow-up you’re supposed to take. If there’s ever a question of what was covered during an appointment or a misunderstanding of expectations, then these notes can help clarify the situation.
Service-based businesses run on the power of referral marketing. By creating an army of raving fans who promote your business, you can have a never-ending stream of new clients and patients clamoring to work with you. It’s not unusual for companies to report that referrals are their number one source of new business.
Instead of having to hustle for new clients and invest in large amounts of advertising spending, by focusing on your how you interact with your clients, your phone could start ringing right off the hook.