In my original post in this series (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the 10 critical skills you will need to prepare yourself to succeed in the coming upheaval in the job market. Today I want to discuss number 8 on the list, Service Orientation.
Why is Service Orientation so Important?
Service Orientation may be the most difficult of the skills to describe. Yet in many ways, it is the most important of the 10 skills even though it’s number 8 on the list. As a Freelancer, you don’t just want clients that are satisfied; you want clients that are loyal. What’s the difference? Loyal customers call you first. Before they talk to anyone else.
What is Service Orientation?
Service orientation is a customer first approach. It’s a mindset. This isn’t a skill to be practiced; it’s a lifestyle to be lived.
Think about Nordstrom’s. They became famous because their gift wrapping department would wrap gifts purchased at other stores. Or, Disney, whose “cast members” sole function is to make sure their “guests” enjoy themselves.
I spent 20 years training Mortgage Loan Officers how to build a business based on personal referrals from Realtors, builders, and previous clients. Service orientation was the most important quality determining their success.
Here’s what it takes to develop a loyal client.
First on the list is a high degree of empathy. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. You need good listening skills. Find out not only what the client wants, but why they want it. Have patience. Be sure you hear them out.
Be interested in your clients as people. Find out as much as you can about them. Why do they love their industry? How did they come to be involved in your project? Where do they go from here? My experience is most people love to talk about themselves, especially if they are passionate about their work.
Practice exceptional follow through and follow up. As a Freelancer, you may be acting as a go-between for two or more clients. Make sure all are not just satisfied, but pleased with the outcome. Make follow up calls a week, a month, a quarter, and even a year after completion. It’s a good way to get feedback on your project in order to improve your performance the next time. It’s also a great opportunity to ask for more business.
My father was a commercial builder. He made constant follow up calls to clients with finished jobs. If something was wrong with one of his projects, he didn’t care how long ago the job had been completed. He’d fix it. No charge. Guess why his clients called him back again and again?
People like to do business with you when you can make it easy for them. Here’s a hint. Don’t make it easy, make it effortless. When I was in mortgage banking, our Loan Officers would get a referral from a Realtor. They’d interview the applicants, and if they were qualified, the deal closed in 10 business days. Do you think Realtors liked sending us business?
Where Can I Learn About Service Orientation?
That’s actually a hard question to answer. When you search online you will find a lot of sites that are IT oriented.
The best sources appear to be books. Jeffrey Gitomer has a great book titled Customer Satisfaction is Worthless. Customer Loyalty is Priceless. In it, Jeffrey has a lot of simple, direct strategies to build customer loyalty. I have included a link below if you’d like to purchase this book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate).
Then there’s practice. You can start now. We are all involved in situations every day where we can strive to make sure those we come in contact with are pleased with the results. As I said before, this isn’t a skill it’s a lifestyle. Start today to put the other person first. You’ll be stunned at the results.