In 2014 Ross Beard and I started a blog on client satisfaction that would ultimately become the largest in the world, bringing together our insights running Client Heartbeat and compiling knowledge from experts across the globe.
What we found was amazing consistency. Across the “best in class” performers, there were key themes that seemed to drive their success regardless of industry. As a litmus test I applied these sample principles in another business I owned called R & G Technologies and within 12 months, we had improved our client retention by almost 100%.
Understand your why
Simon Sinek started a revolution with his book “Start with Why”. He argued that nearly every company has a “mission statement” but that wasn’t actually important and didn’t mean shit to your people. What was the most important was WHY you do what you do.
So scrap the cheesy wall mounted boardroom poster – if you have a mission that includes phrases like “exceeding customer expectations” or “delivering a quality service” start again, sit down and really think - Why does your business really exist?
Your why will form the basis for everything that follows and most importantly, shape the culture that you have within your organisation.
Culture = client satisfaction quality
No matter what you might hope, client satisfaction is almost entirely driven by the quality of the outcomes of your people. I’m not saying there aren’t some ways of systemising better quality client satisfaction because there are. But if you ask the top performers where their results come from it is always invariably driven by culture.
That means, to make a marked shift in client satisfaction you need a comparable shift in people. Once you understand this correlation, you understand you need to shift your focus away from the client, to your staff.
Genuinely care about your people
I am a true believer that working from the inside out is the most important. What this means is caring first and foremost about your staff even before your customers. Best in class companies invest in their people by helping them develop their skills. Training them, mentoring them and promoting them. Caring about your staff means putting their needs about that abusive customer. It means paying for some training and promoting someone so they can learn a new role because you want to see them grow, instead of hiring someone outside.
If you treat your staff with respect, and you show genuine care for them they will repay you by showing that same care for the customer. Not only that, but your staff retention will sky rocket. People will make or break your business and if you create an environment where they truly feel cared for you will get the best out of them – and they will stay.
This is something I see regularly in tech companies. At some point, you need to trust other people. You may get sweaty palms, you may not like their decision making but you need to let go, and let them make their own mistakes. People are generally good at heart and want to do well. When people see you trust them and they feel comfortable making mistakes, they will shift from employee think to owner think.
For me personally, I used to struggle with this the most. When someone used to come to me with their idea, I would always say “that’s amazing, but can we change x” because of course I knew best (and in some cases I probably did). What I didn’t realise what this in improving the idea by 10% I lost the person’s ownership by 40%. It was now an initiative I was responsible for and I was driving. The person felt deflated, unempowered.
Now, across every business I own we have a leadership team and I stay the hell out of their way. Most are young and often inexperienced for the responsibility they carry. But they have my trust. And they handle shit. Best of all, they love it and they appreciate it. I am free to focus on the most strategic of priorities, without the day to day noise or even just take some time to myself.
That’s it. It sounds simple but so often it really is. Create a culture of care and of trust within your people and they will repay you with increased client satisfaction. Give them the real reason they walk into work every day instead of just showing up for the pay check and then just get out of their way.