Yes, that’s right. Not only do you need to train your staff but you also need to train your customers. Sounds like a strange thing to say? Well, read on because it isn’t strange at all!
Most customers expect a good level of service from us and hopefully, we are charging a ‘good’ fee for this service level. “Good’ means being responsive but doesn’t always mean responding instantly. Of course, customers should come first but that doesn’t mean you should be at their beck and call, and this is where training them becomes important.
Let’s take an example (which I’m sure will be familiar to many readers). You are sitting at your desk working on an important document or writing your next blog post and you see your Outlook dialogue box ping in the corner of your screen. You see it’s from a customer so stop what you are doing and open the email – it’s a quick question so you respond instantly. 5 minutes later another dialogue box pings and again, it’s from the same customer asking a further question. Again you respond instantly. The next day you are away from your desk and the same customer sends a further email, this time you don’t respond instantly – how does the customer feel?
In this scenario two things have happened: Firstly, you have set the expectation with the client that you will always be available and respond instantly and secondly, by disrupting work on that important document you were writing, it will take you considerably longer to complete the document because of the interruptions and broken trains of thought.
It’s important we set and manage the expectation of clients so they receive an appropriate level of service for the fee paid. If you differentiate yourselves by saying you provide exceptional levels of service then you had better be charging an appropriate fee. In most cases, differentiating yourself by service level is a recipe for a non-profitable business.
So train your clients by ensuring you are responsive but not too responsive. Next time the Outlook dialogue box pings in the corner of your screen finish work on the document first before being tempted to look (and respond) to the email. After all, if it were really urgent, the client would call you rather than send an email.