Entrepreneurs, especially when first starting out, hold several titles - not only are they salespeople, they are often in charge of marketing and customer service as well. After the sale is closed, it's necessary to nurture the relationship and deepen client trust by not only delivering the services promised, but going a step beyond to meet even the needs the client may not have expressed. Entrepreneurs may need coaching to learn how to take a strategic approach to customer service, rather than reacting to praise or negative feedback.
Forrester Research analyst Kerry Bodine, an expert in experience design, explains in a company blog post that businesses should recognize that their interactions with clients build the customer experience, noting that to continuously impress the client and prove the value of your service, you need to weave a narrative arc.
She cites some of the classic action films and explains how they have remained audience favorites: First they draw you in with an exciting scene that concludes with a "boom," effectively "hooking" the viewer. The momentum doesn't slow, and the narrative continues to deliver events that successively grow bigger and more exciting. Then comes the finale, Bodine explains, a last "thrilling and explosive 'boom'" that takes the audience's breath away.
Think of the journey that your clients will take, she writes. "We discuss the steps that they go through as they discover, evaluate, buy, use, and get support for a company’s products or services. We evaluate whether or not customers are getting their needs met at each step and how they feel at specific moments of truth," Bodine observes.
To achieve the same kind of engagement that strong narratives can create in a moviegoer or reader, companies need to start thinking in terms of how they can sustain clients' excitement and satisfaction over the course of the business relationship. In order to do this, businesses in any industry must learn about clients' personal and financial needs.
What makes your firm distinctive? When researching a prospect before a sales meeting or in conversation with an existing client, are you looking for cues as to what motivates them, what their hopes and fears are? As you build client capital, think of the various methods you can continue to use to deliver (positive) surprises. From there, shape the narrative and frame your interactions in order to meet the benchmarks for successful client relationship management. Continue to listen to your client and be on the lookout for any cues that will help you gauge their future interests, needs and wants.