7 Simple Ways to Serve, Solve and Delight Customers

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I read an interesting tweet from my friend and entrepreneurship savant, Bryan Franklin that said:

“I noticed that the speakers with $1-$3M businesses were fascinated with marketing, and the speaker with $100M biz was fascinated with customers.”

And, shortly after that, I scanned down my tweet-stream to notice a gazillion or so links to articles and posts that reveals X ways to get more clients, Y ways to market bigger and better and Z ways to get more subscribers.

Bryan’s right, you’ll solve most of your business problems by spending more energy figuring out how best understand your customers’ lives, psyches and challenges, then working to solve your customers problems and deliver delight to their doorsteps.

Not a lot of people create lists that focus on how to better serve, solve and delight your customers. So, I figured, never too late to start!

Here’s mine, it’s just a starter…

7 Simple Ways to Serve, Solve and Delight Customers

  1. Beat deadlines – Promise on-time delivery in writing…then deliver the product or complete the job early.
  2. Make introductions – With no obvious benefit to you, but a clear benefit to them
  3. Follow-up quickly – On calls, emails, tweets or other messages
  4. Recognize loyalty – Provide value at random times to loyal clients, without any request or expectation of reciprocation
  5. Provide surprise bonuses after sale – Immediately after a sales, give unpromised and unexpected “bonus” services and products with real, tangible value, above and beyond what was purchased, and without tying them to up-sells or cross-sells
  6. Solve, don’t sell – If you can solve their problem, do so. If not, introduce them to someone else who can. You may lose the immediate sale, but you gain far more in Karma
  7. Shut up, give your full-attention and listen – It’s something that is oh so rare in the age of distraction and self-gratification, both in business and in life

Feel free to add more of your own in the comments…

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38 responses

38 responses to “7 Simple Ways to Serve, Solve and Delight Customers”

  1. Hi Jonathan,
    Nice quote, thanks for that. You’ve made a great point. Why do some of us call our customers prospects and spend half our day working out how to win ‘the battle for their mind’? I believe we should be on a quest for their hearts.
    Tom Asacker says it best;
    “It doesn’t matter what people think about you. What matters is how you make them feel about themselves and their decisions in your presence.”

    • I couldn’t agree more!

    • Totally! If you read Made to Stick (one of my favorite books) they talk about how studies show that people are actually less convinced by facts. We think facts convince people but really it’s emotion (with some facts to back it up). Don’t manipulate, but focus on what people are gonna be emotional about.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, Alicia Dunams, SOWEB Inc., Bernadette Jiwa, Kattykaramelo and others. Kattykaramelo said: RT @jonathanfields: 7 Simple Ways to Serve, Solve and Delight Customers – http://ow.ly/30bev […]

  3. Hey Johnathan,
    I have enjoyed reading your posts for a few weeks now–definitely some great stuff. I don’t know a whole lot about dealing with customers as I have never owned a business. As you mentioned, it seems most people are interested just in getting a sale from a customer. Speaking experientially, I am much more likely to buy from or support a person/company if they seem to actually care about improving something in my life rather than just pushing their product. Oftentimes, this can be in the form of a lot of free information (blogs, eBooks, et. al).

    Thanks!

    Brett

  4. Mike Halbfish says:

    I think the key to most of business and life was summarized in a Coca-cola Superbowl commercial…Give a little love and it all comes back to you. You’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do. http://www.metacafe.com/watch/210959/coca_cola_grand_theft_auto/

  5. I like #6 Jonathan, super karmic advice. If you can’t help direct the person to someone who can. Everybody prospers here.

    Thanks for sharing your insight!

    Ryan

  6. hey Jonathan ~
    your list is inspiring – my favorite is number six: Solve, don’t sell. this is a much more exciting way to approach business than just selling things as it allows us to actually improve the lives of those we serve, rather than merely making an exchange of object for money.
    to help people solve by providing our unique service is to truly know success, as those solutions ripple out and benefit customers as well their extended circles, too. that makes selling more meaningful – that inspires me.
    thanks for your thoughtful perspective.

  7. Bryan’s tweet jumped out at me too and I gave it quite a bit of thought because he’s absolutely right and I wondered about the psychology behind it.

    What I came up with is that when we are climbing to the $1-3m mark it’s all about figuring out who our customer is, how to be seen by that customer, how to structure the biz model to generate the revenue necessary to support the promise we make to the customer, and how to build the team around the customer.

    In many cases, pre-$1m entrepreneurs don’t even really know WHO their customer is.

    Once we hit $1m-3m, the likelihood is that we hit it because we now KNOW who our customer is, what we do for them and the team we need to support them and our focus now is about getting seen by that person. Once we figure that out, to make the jump to the $100m mark and sustain there, it’s got to be all about serving that customer at the deepest level.

    So, I think it’s an evolution and it actually does all center around the customer – first, figuring out who your customer is, then figuring out how to be seen by them and build a team around them, then figuring out how to service the heck out of them.

    A

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yeah, I think that’s a big part of it, and something I’ve been thinking a lot about, too. It’s like Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” With rare exception, most people just start felling trees.

  8. Hi Jonathan.

    I can certainly work on most of these, as I am not consistently doing them, and can see the large benefits associated with them. I will take #1 into account when I release a product, so that it is released almost earlier than its planned date.

    I have done many of these items in the past, but it is important that I do them now to bring delight to the forefront.

  9. Linda says:

    Quick f/u is so essential to anyone in business, as well as life. I’ve lost many potential clients by not returing phone calls immediately. I’m reminded of a Couples Counseling seminar I attended where the speaker highlighted the importance of ‘hitting the bullseye’ regarding finding a quick resolution to your partner’s pain. The couples who were rapid responders had more successful relationships.

    Thanks Jonathan 🙂

  10. Really the sum of all of these 7 points is that business owners need to go above and beyond expectations when it comes to client service. Clients love to get MORE than they expected and this is what will have them coming back for more. Consistently over-delivering results will help business owners to grow a loyal following who is happy with their purchase.

  11. It is amazing how the much of the wisdom we were told of in 4th grade is applicable later in life. I suggest MBA students should retake 4th grade as part of their graduation requirements. Be kind, play well with others, share. Don’t talk out of turn. Reward your best friends.

    Christopher B

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Soooo true. All of this could be summarized with “give more and don’t be a butthead!”

  12. Collin says:

    Nice, I love your first comment. Under promising and over delivering is a powerful thing!

  13. Sinea Pies says:

    Thinking more about the needs of the customers vs. getting customers (or readers) is ideal! I love it. No pressure, lots of good will. I am going to look for new ways to do just that. Thanks for the excellent post.

    Sinea

  14. Thank you for putting that out! I just did a blog posting on something very similar – and I’m working on one about “thank you”. Too many people come across as self-serving rather than simply being serving. I’m not asking someone to get down on their knees for me, only listen to what I need. If they can’t direct me, then please find me someone who can. I have the greatest amount of respect for – and loyalty to – those who actually care about meeting needs the needs of others.

  15. Wendy Thomas says:

    #6 – Solve don’t sell – exemplified best by the Macy’s Santa sending the harried mother over to Gimbels to get a sold out toy in “The Miracle on 34th Street”. Even as a youngster, I could appreciate the beauty in that one.

  16. […] And he gives you 7 simple ways to serve, solve and delight customers here. […]

  17. Charles Tutt says:

    I really enjoyed your article. It resonated with me. I have just one LARGE (to me) criticism or perhaps question. That is: How many of you hire writers who don’t know when to use “then” vs “than”?

    Every day I see articles with the misuse of then/than and I wonder if many of you all use the same writers. Surely you don’t, do you? Or, could it be the auto-write software needs a tweek?

    Just wondering about that…

  18. “I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.”

    That’s one of the lines out of the Ritz-Carlton’s Service Values handbook that’s distributed to every employee. The entire list is a set of affirmations that in some way works to enhance the service experience of the client at every level. It’s not a set of demands, rules or guidelines that you have to follow but rather a positive list of affirmations that every employee reads, breathes and lives by day-in and day-out. It’s a simple act, but effective (IMHO).

    Here’s the post I drafted on it:
    http://www.ricardobueno.com/customer-service-values

    Showing that you care communicates attention and regard for the well being of the customer. It connects and fosters stronger relationships. In my opinion, it’s these businesses, connected businesses that are stronger, more referable and more profitable than the rest.

  19. Jackie says:

    Agree totally with all your points but loved this:
    “Shut up, give your full-attention and listen – It’s something that is oh so rare in the age of distraction and self-gratification, both in business and in life”

    Most of the time people are so busy working out what they are going to say next to clinch the deal, that they dont Hear what the customer is actually telling them.
    You can’t solve if you don’t understand and you can’t understand if you don’t listen.

    Keep groovin Jonathan.
    Jackie

    • Re: “Most of the time people are so busy working out what they are going to say next to clinch the deal, that they dont Hear what the customer is actually telling them.”

      Too true. The best progress is made when you stop and listen to what the other person is saying to you.

  20. Amen to this, Jonathan:

    “You’ll solve most of your business problems by spending more energy figuring out how best understand your customers’ lives, psyches and challenges, then working to solve your customers problems and deliver delight to their doorsteps.”

    Figure a person sharpens their ax on those words for a full year and yeesh, an amazing business will spring forth. Inspired to put that to the test. Will report back 10/27/2011 :). Thanks for yet another thought provoking post.

  21. Jonathan:
    Thanks for your post. First, I’m glad to see you talk about delight – something I’ve been writing about lately. Second, I resonated most with #5. It’s about generosity – which I think is an invaluable quality. I sometimes wonder if some entrepreneurs are just innately more generous than others and/or if it’s something that can be practiced so that it becomes natural. Anyone giving clients bonuses is one of my favorite things to offer.

    Cheers for your great work and great life.
    Jeffrey

  22. biren shah says:

    … and before you try the above, ensure that you see that you are doing all this to add value…

    … not to clients and customers, but to you and your life.

    without the above, all the 7 will be reduced to becoming ‘techniques’…

  23. Dom says:

    Great post Jonathan. It’s all about achieving customer delight, which can only really be achieved by caring about the customer’s needs and following through with effective action.

    Reminds me of a hotel I stayed in once in Hawaii. Had a thai green curry in their restaurant, and said jokingly to the waiter “I’d love to have the recipe for this.” He simply smiled and nodded.

    When I got back to my room an hour later, there was an envelope under the door. Inside was a printed recipe for the thai green curry I’d just eaten. I was blown away.

    Ten years later I’m still telling people this story, and they ask for the name of the hotel. Says it all.

    • Helen Hunter says:

      That is such a great story Dom, and illustrates this point so well! Listening is so undervalued in current society. And, as a result, also often missing is understanding. This is not the same as gathering knowledge about a client, is it? Often this takes time, something we are loth to give despite the later benefits.

  24. Vernon says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Your post reminds me of someone I worked for in a lodge years ago. When he was talking to guests (who were always called guests) whatever disaster he was handling in the back of house disappeared and he would sit with the guest and chat as if he had all the time in the world.

    While he worked at the same lodge as me, hundreds of people visited because he was the manager. People loved him and traveled around the world, in a way, just to have this guy sit and listen to them. Even staff were treated the same way. It was an amazing lesson:

    Engage your clients in such a way that they can’t wait to spend time with you!

    Business becomes almost trivial after that.

  25. Bill Snow says:

    Another great post Jonathan!

    A few of your points remind me of advice a client gave me early in my career, “I know I’m not your only client, but make me feel like it.”

    If we execute our daily plan with that in mind, we’ll always delight customers.

  26. Thor Holt says:

    Hey Jonathan,
    Superb as ever from you buddy

    Love your: 7 Simple Ways to Serve, Solve and Delight Customers

    Especially – “Shut up, give your full-attention and listen” – I call it Diplomacy Listening… from time as a bouncer 🙂 the best self protection (learnt through painful experience!) is to ask a cool question, then listen respectfully and be diplomatic = no hospital or jail for the bouncer and a happy Club or Bar customer – #RealLifeLessons Those bouncers who went in aggressive end up with criminal charges + more chance of hospital visit 🙂

    PS I gave the signed Career Renegade away last night at the seminar and told your story as an example to the students of why the first career they choose may not be the one they end up making their mark in + highly recommended your book, naturally 🙂

    Keep up the great work!

  27. […] 7 Simple Ways to Serve, Solve, and Delight Customers.  Jonathan Fields has a great writing style that is simple and to the point.  Another post of actionable ideas that can have an immediate impact on customer satisfaction, regardless of whether you’re a sole proprietor, small business owner, and employee in a large company.  And while you’re on Jonathan’s sites, I can’t recommend more highly his 7 Keynote MBA post, which includes seven terrific speeches that do indeed provide the viewer with a great overview of what’s important to know if you’re going to run a business.  Bookmark the seven keynotes so you can come back regularly. […]

  28. […] 7 Simple Ways to Serve, Solve, and Delight Customers.  Jonathan Fields has a great writing style that is simple and to the point.  Another post of actionable ideas that can have an immediate impact on customer satisfaction, regardless of whether you’re a sole proprietor, small business owner, and employee in a large company.  And while you’re on Jonathan’s sites, I can’t recommend more highly his 7 Keynote MBA post, which includes seven terrific speeches that do indeed provide the viewer with a great overview of what’s important to know if you’re going to run a business.  Bookmark it (the seven keynotes) so you can come back regularly. […]

  29. Great advice, Jonathan. Just expanding on it a bit, I’d say follow your 7 steps above, but think about how to do that with your current customers.

    I wrote an article about this here:
    http://www.blistmarketing.com/2011/01/marketing-the-wrong-way/

    Seems like always marketing to potential leads for most small businesses is the wrong way to go.