Although they may not realize it, the majority of companies are actually in the industry of client service – in comparison, their product offerings and sectors are minor details. The level of service that is offered in the forms of product quality, presentation, availability and client relationship management is what usually makes someone choose to work with one organization over another. Essentially, the services and products you offer matter less than delivery, which carries much more weight in a client’s decision to begin or continue doing business with you.

This is a topic that gets a lot of attention in the book Uncommon Service, co-authored by Anne Morriss, the Concire Leadership Institute co-founder and chief knowledge officer, and Frances Frei, a professor of service management at Harvard Business School. As they note, the way in which we serve each other plays a much bigger role in pushing the economy forward than what we make.

I think this quote from Morriss and Frei summarizes my point pretty well: “It’s easy to throw service into a mission statement and periodically do whatever it takes to make a customer happy … What’s hard is designing a service model that allows average employees – not just the exceptional ones – to produce service excellence as an everyday routine.”

Defy the status quo

How have you decided to make your client service uncommon? Have you emphasized the importance of the client relationship management to every employee at every level of your organization? Survey the service models of your competitors, and seek out the gaps in their strategies that you can turn into your own strengths. Some companies may be good at converting prospects, but cannot retain clients because they fail to provide support after the initial sale. Others deliver their services or products in an impersonal manner, relying on automated messages instead of deepening the connection through personalized emails, telephone calls and even in-person meetings.

Morriss and Frei warn against trying to be good at everything, since mastering the art of client relationship management will mean you have to divert resources and energies from other areas. 

Think about the ways you can set your business apart from others and focus on a few areas where you can excel. Determine the status quo for service delivery in your industry, and then strive to break free from it.