Focus on Exceptional Service (and success will follow)
Inspired by this month’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast where I sat down with Bri Caraway –hair stylist, entrepreneur and founder of hair by Bri C—to discuss her passion for her clients and business building. Bri’s genuine love of her craft (and more importantly, her clients) will leave you feeling ready to use social media for your business in an entirely new way and excited to get back to the heart of the service industry —putting others first—before all the other facets of business ownership.
If you’ve been feeling disconnected from your clients or bogged down by to-do’s, rather than serving others, here are a few takeaways to remind you that focusing on providing exceptional service and investing in client connections are the most important keys to your success.
Start with your offering.
In product driven companies, the focus is on the characteristics of a product that buyers will value; conversely, service designers should, “focus on the experiences customers want to have.”
- Determine first, what sets your service and brand apart.
- What have your customers communicated they value?
- Extended hours, location, more services offered or more value as compared to competitors.
- Now, determine which of your service offerings you’ll excel at and which you will be inferior at.
Bri mentions the book, The New Gold Standard, about the 5 leadership principles employed by the Ritz-Carlton in order to provide “legendary customer experience and courtesy”—even the Ritz-Carlton identified the offerings at which they excel and those they’ll intentionally be inferior at. While they are exceptional at anticipating, meeting, and exceeding guest expectations, they do so at a higher price offering. Their properties excel at guest experience by acknowledging the increased cost to do so.
- Build your customer base by identifying what your customers value, then excel at those offerings.
- Look to your competition to see what clients value, then adjust your superior performance and intentional inferior performance accordingly.
Once you have determined your offering, you can make a cultural roadmap around it. For the Ritz-Carlton, their offering is undoubtedly providing guests with their “ultimate experience”.
Focus on empowering your employees.
If the service you provide is foundational to the success of your business, then your employees must embody your company culture with attention to the service attributes your business has prioritized in its offering.
- Exceptional employees begin with exceptional recruiting, hiring and training practices.
- Start by asking yourself two questions:
- What makes our employees reasonably able to achieve excellence?
- What makes our employees reasonably motivated to achieve excellence?
- Design an employee management system where the average employee will thrive—and then empower them to enact your standards of service through the extension of trust.
At the Ritz-Carlton, every employee can spend as much as $2000 per day, per guest without a supervisor’s approval to solve a guest’s problem. This extension of trust empowers staff to act in the best interest of the guest, ultimately empowering their autonomy to act, and then their loyalty to an employer who values their ability to connect with clients. Approaching hiring and retention through this lens will also help you to become more adept at building a team with staying power.
Deliver the wow factor.
At the Ritz-Carlton, all employees are called together for a daily 15-20 minute lineup meeting. During these meetings management takes time to engage in positive storytelling while also reaffirming the company’s offering and service attributes. Guest stories and observed examples are shared and directly linked to the ten Service Principles and Credo.
- Be Trustworthy | Do what you commit to doing, act with integrity, and do things in the service of your customers and clients.
- Be Responsive | When you are slow to react to a customer’s needs, they will assume you are either indifferent or incompetent. Respond immediately whenever you are able, anticipate their next need and meet it in advance, and communicate openly if there will be a delay to resolving their need for any reason.
- Be Strong, But Flexible | The Ritz-Carlton’s guest ‘stipend’ is the embodiment of this. Rather than employee rules and regulations, they empower their staff to act on behalf of the guest, ultimately improving their rapport and the company’s reputation.
- Be Likeable and Interested | Start with listening and asking questions and keep this adage by Maya Angelou at the forefront of your guest interactions, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.”
- Communicate Candidly | Communicate frequently with your staff and clients and be visible! It’s always better to act and communicate from a platform of anticipation rather than delayed response after the fact.
Customers today have a wide range of options to choose from, and they are more likely to choose a business that offers superior service. By placing your focus back on the customer –and their experience— first, success will inevitably follow.