Under promise, and over deliver.
These are tenets of the business practices we employ at 321Go Project, and you’ll hear them repeated often in our podcasts.
With so many in the service industry performing at the lowest-acceptable level – performing their jobs to the letter, but not the owner’s intent – it’s no wonder that clients walk through your door and leave one foot in the alleyway for a fast exit. They’ve heard it all before.
Only the very rare client is committed to your service before they arrive; most are, at best, 50% sold. Even among those who sign up, most will believe that they’re “giving it a try,” rather than committing for the long term. There’s no line crossed that can’t be recrossed.
Rather than assume commitment, or timeliness, or eagerness from the client, it helps to lay expectations on the line at the start of your relationship. If they presume some leeway in class start times, open gym availability, or price, the relationship will encounter some rocky ground up ahead.
Enter the Client Bill of Rights: a single-page summation of what each party can expect from the other. “We’ll promise not to give someone else more attention than you, and you promise to be nice to everyone.” Simple as that.
The Client Bill of Rights presents some other opportunities, too. By writing the agreement in plain English, you demonstrate that you’re not employing a team of attorneys who will tie them down like Gulliver in Lilliput.
By asking your staff to go through the Client Bill of Rights with each new client, you confirm the Owner’s Intent to your staff every time they meet a new client. Rather than a step-by-step guide to every conversation, your staff can make judgements based on what YOU would do…as long as they know what that might be.
By including a formal code of conduct in a non-aggressive way, you’re communicating to the client that they may expect all others to behave in the same way, too – and that you’re all a bunch of humans, after all.
By including a list of remedies for possible errors, the client knows what to expect when something goes wrong. Many, when irritated, will simply leave rather than speak up with a problem. “Those guys never billed me on the right day of the month!” can be easily resolved with a sample solution in writing: “8. Correctly invoice and give receipts, or make corrections immediately.”
Finally, you’re showing that you’re willing to put yourself on the accountability line; that the client isn’t the only one taking a risk in the new relationship.
A promise still holds weight. A frank discussion about how a client will be treated, with eye contact and a handshake, will go further than any legal draft, money-back guarantee, short-term signup deals, or long-term binding contracts.
Give us your thoughts in the comments below!
This article was written by Chris Cooper.