Have you ever been to the Orlando, FL airport on a Saturday morning? Thousands of strung out parents and kids coming off a cotton-candy-and-Mickey-Mouse high? It’s utter chaos!
I had this unique pleasure recently and amidst the chaos and noise, I witnessed something interesting that stuck with me.
Do you know those little kiosks that sit in between the gates at the airport? They sell water, gum, candy bars, etc. Most of us don’t even notice that they’re there. But on this particular morning, at this unassuming kiosk, I witnessed something amazing. The gentleman who was working the kiosk was attracting quite a crowd, so naturally, everyone was drawn to see what the big deal was. Turns out he was singing to every single customer who came through his little kiosk. There he was, literally singing and shouting his gratitude for his customers, complete with a personalized handshake for each one.
For over 20 minutes, I sat from a distance and watched this unfold, and the amazing thing was not only the energy that this guy demonstrated, but the byproduct was that I watched a parade of people transition from stressed to happy and smiling. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE, left that experience without a giant smile on their face. Young and old, this simple act transformed moods—one after the other, and then it struck me…
How can I apply this lesson to my business and bring it back to our clients as a case study on how to treat their clients and orchestrate “WOW!” experiences in their business?
So, with this story as a backdrop, how does this apply to you? You don’t have to sing and dance for your clients, but you should be asking yourself, “Are we creating a client experience that leaves our clients smiling and eager to tell their friends and families about us?” What would an ideal experience look like for your clients?
If you aren’t confident in your ability to answer that consistently, let’s walk through a framework that you can use, along with your team to help you take inventory of where you currently are, and help to establish a more intentional client experience moving forward.
For simplicity sake, we’ll frame this as the “3 P’s”. To deliver a “WOW!” experience with your clients, your organization must focus on being “Present”, “Purposeful”, and “Personal”.
Let’s face it—there’s no shortage of distractions as a business owner. No one could blame you for having your attention divided at any given time, but to deliver the kind of experience we’re talking about, you must have a lot of discipline and remain present in every interaction that you and your staff have with your clients and prospects.
Every interaction affords you an opportunity to deepen your relationships and gain a better understanding for what makes your client “tick” as an individual, and these opportunities can be gold for your business in the long-run.
A useful tool to keep for yourself and your team members is to maintain a worksheet which can be used with your clients and prospects with the word “FORD” on it. FORD is an acronym that will help you and your team to remain conscious about the kind of dialog you’re wanting to engage in with your clients and prospects.
“F” stands for “Family”
“O” stands for “Occupation”
“R” stands for Recreation”, and
“D” stands for “Dreams”
If you and your staff can condition yourselves to have this as a top-of-mind awareness in all your interactions, you can use it as a guide to remain conscious of infusing this into your conversations. You’ll be amazed at how many opportunities this will present to your business.
Being present and operating with intention and focus is critical, but equally important is having a clear sense of purpose for your accomplishments as a team. Most of us get focused on products that we sell and the service that we provide and become convinced that’s what differentiates us from our competition. If you were to poll your best clients and ask them why they do business with you, and what makes you unique, it will have nothing to do about the products you use or the plans you coordinate.
It’s about the experience that you and your team provide and the feelings that this experience instills in your clients. It’s what differentiates you from your competition, and what ultimately creates the moat in your business that separates you from competitors.
As a team, focus on what you want your experience to feel like for your clients. You’ve heard people refer to their business as a “family”, and ideally, this is how your clients refer to your business and introduce it to their friends and family as well.
This is a cultural dynamic that only occurs with purpose and intention. It results from your leadership and guidance and creates loyalty and buy-in from your team members because you’re all working towards a bigger purpose: to make a bigger difference in people’s lives and leave your mark.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone you’d identify as an ideal prospect for your business; meaning the kind of person you’d love to build your business around.
They’ve likely been around the block, so based on their experience, what would their baseline expectation be from someone in the financial service industry?
What has that experience been for them in the past?
What does “status-quo” feel like?
Once you’ve figured this out, go to the next step by thinking through what would need to happen for that prospect’s expectations to be blown away.
What else can you and your team incorporate into the client experience that raises the bar and separates you in the mind of that prospect?
Use this exercise to help determine what you feel you’re up against. The good news for you is that most of our industry has done a really good job of creating mediocre experiences. With just a little bit of intention, you can not only meet your prospect’s expectations but dramatically exceed them—and create a raving fan for your business.
Make it personal. Well-equipped with your “FORD” information, and a unified team with a clear purpose to serve, the final step is to simply look for opportunities to make it personal for your clients and to orchestrate those “WOW!” experiences.
At the end of the day, this will always will be a relationship business. People want to do business with people who they genuinely like and trust, and who they believe genuinely cares about them. This seems almost glaringly simple on the surface, but it’s awfully easy to lose sight of—especially after you’ve been paid.
Look for opportunities to continue to love your clients. Educate them, inform them, and look for opportunities to surprise them wherever you can. The more personal you can make these efforts feel to them, the tighter the bond and greater the advocate you’ll create for your business.
Be present, be purposeful, and be personal. Making your clients “WOW!” doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take some thoughtful coordination. The time that you invest to make this a cornerstone of your business model and client experience today will pay you back down the road.
It will raise you above any peer in the minds of your clients and will help to position you well in the quest to achieve the elusive “by referral only” business. How would that change things for you?
Schedule your next staff meeting, and make sure that the “FORD” discussion is on the agenda. Educate your staff on what this means, and why it’s important, and make it a discipline for everyone in your business to bring these principles into each of their interactions with your clients.
Continue to reinforce it, and before long, it will become a habit and part of your company culture. Do this and you’ll be well on your way to delivering the dream-come-true experience that your clients want and deserve.