A customer walks into their store. His needs aren’t that important. What’s important is that they walk out of the store with something. A sale was closed, money was made. This view is extremely transactional.
However, that point of view will lead to customers who are dissatisfied with their purchases, and at the minimum, they may think twice about coming to your store for their needs in the future — especially once they realize they didn’t need what you sold them.
A client is someone who is under your protection. You have their best interest at heart — even if it’s not an immediate “win” for your business. You are protector and confidant.
To have this point of view, you must be invested in knowing your clients. Know their problems, their roadblocks, their dreams, their fears. Know what they need. Know them as a whole.
This point of view looks at the big picture and is trying to connect with people for life.
Clients vs. Customers
Listen to how Jay Abraham describes the difference in his book Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got:
Customer: A person who purchases a commodity or service.
Client: A person who is under the protection of another.
The difference in the meaning is massive. And there’s a massive difference in the way a person who does business with you could or should be treated.
If in your field these people are referred to as customers, that’s fine. But whatever you call them, always think of them as a client.
What exactly does “under your protection” mean?
In this case it means that you don’t sell people a product or service just so you can make a large one-time profit.
A better option is to understand and appreciate exactly what your clients needs when they do business with you—even if they are unable to articulate that exact result themselves. Once you know what financial outcome they need, you lead them to that outcome—you become a trusted adviser who protects them.
And they have a reason to remain your client for a lifetime.
The Strategy of Preeminence
James Lloyd, motivational speaker and employee training expert, shares a riveting example of what viewing people as clients means for a business:
The example above with James Lloyd is extreme, but that’s exactly what that employee from Nordstrom did. She even refused money until Lloyd was done with his speech. That’s value!
Train Anyone, Anywhere in the World.
Following the strategy of preeminence means:
- You should never allow your clients to buy more or less than they need
- You should expect to build a group of people who will buy from you for their needs
- You should always act in your customer’s best interest (don’t be short-sighted)
You must become your client’s trusted advisor. Your client knows when they come to you you’re going to steer them right no matter what. If you do this well, your customer will always come to you with her needs, which will provide you with a lifetime of opportunities to provide value for what they do need that you can provide!
Make It Easy
Another point worth noting from the Nordstrom example: That employee made things easy for Lloyd. She came down to the front of the store. She pressed the shirt. And again, she refused payment until after he could finish his speech. Lloyd didn’t have to take a single extra step to get what he needed.
A 2007 survey by the Customer Contact Council found that the single most important factor to increasing customer loyalty is reducing the amount of work the client has to do.
If you want to be your client’s trusted advisor for life, go above and beyond. Make yourself stand out from the other businesses or services who are just out for the sale and so don’t care how many hoops their customers have to jump through.
In the Harvard Business Review, Matthew Dixon, Karen Freeman, and Nicholas Toman state,
When it comes to service, companies create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily. . . . Framing the service challenge [i.e., going above and beyond] in terms of making it easy for the customer can be highly illuminating, even liberating, especially for companies that have been struggling to delight.
Don’t just talk about going above and beyond. Be concrete with making it easy for your clients. Stop. Right now! Think about your client:
- What do they need?
- How do you meet that need?
- Now how can you make your client’s path to that need as easy as possible?
That’s going above and beyond.
That will win you a client for life!