How to amaze your clients, be remarkable and ensure a flood of referrals

Are you remarkable? Are clients bouncing away from using your service telling everyone they know about it? Change that, amaze them.

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The subject line was ominous “Your vehicle health check”. It certainly wasn’t expected; I’d only dropped the car off a few hours ago for it’s ‘1 year old’ service.

Moving into the email was more of the same alien-yet-intriguing territory.

From: Farnell Land Rover
Subject: Your vehicle health check [Range Rover Sport 3.0 SDV6]

I hit the link in the email and was greeted with a video of ‘my’ technician telling me that the ‘Year 1 Service’ was clear, the vehicle had a clean bill of health.

With TV-like purpose, I was watching my own vehicle sailing through its inspection. From checking the tyre pressures, to pointing out the cleanliness of the engine and confirming the depth of the oil after the change, the video was meticulous.

The Land Rover strapline in the top left of that email is ‘Above & Beyond’ and that commitment to excellence was certainly evident here. Sure, this is an expensive car and sure, maintenance costs are eye watering but still, I was engrossed.

I had just had a remarkable experience.

A ‘vehicle maintenance’ experience I’ve never had before. So then what?

Well, I proceeded to tell everyone who’d listen about the video, about my remarkable experience. Did they listen? Maybe not (Mrs V certainly didn’t share my enthusiasm) but the point is, I shouted about this particular dealership and will never go anywhere else for a service, indeed it’ll make me think twice about moving away from the Range Rover brand altogether.

Yes Liam, but I’m not a car technician

I know, neither am I but the parallels here should be clear to you. The workshop within the dealership is a service business. Swapping skills (prowess with a spanner) for money.

They have as much need as anybody else to be different, to be truly remarkable.

In his seminal book ‘Purple Cow’, Seth Godin explains this point beautifully:

When my family and I were driving through France a few years ago, we were enchanted by the hundreds of storybook cows grazing on picturesque pastures right next to the highway. For dozens of kilometers, we all gazed out the window, marveling about how beautiful everything was.

Then, within twenty minutes, we started ignoring the cows. The new cows were just like the old cows, and what once was amazing was now common. Worse than common. It was boring.

Cows, after you’ve seen them for a while, are boring. They may be perfect cows, attractive cows, cows with great personalities, cows lit by beautiful light, but they’re still boring.

A Purple Cow, though. Now that would be interesting. (For a while.)

The essence of the Purple Cow is that it must be remarkable. In fact, if “remarkable” started with a P, I could probably dispense with the cow subterfuge, but what can you do?

This book is about the why, the what, and the how of remarkable.

Seth Godin – ‘Purple Cow’

Make each touchpoint count

Whenever you make a connection with a client (current or prospective) make it count.   If you’re a designer, when was the last time you recorded a short video walking the client through the design choices you’ve made?

From social media interactions, to email dialogue and post-project support do what you can to be remarkable. In the course ‘How to build longer-term freelance clients’ this was a principle I underscored.

It breaks down to one truism… Why keep hunting for new clients when you can turn the clients you already have into long-term partners?

You probably have 3 or 4 emails from clients that you’ve not replied to. Why not reply in a way they might not otherwise expect? Break their norm, exceed their expectations. Amaze them.

To go back to the analogy, common “cows” just don’t cut it any more; you need to inspire a perception of difference around your service, you need to establish yourself as the mutually beneficial partner and no-brainer option.   You need to go Purple.

A path to guide every client relationship

You can download an extended version of ‘The Path’ with extended explanation and in-depth ideas by clicking below but in summary here are the phases you should ensure each client relationship follows.

Download ‘The Path’ which breaks down in more detail the specific stages a project should go through to ensure a great relationship and an experience the client will want to shout about. Click here to download the worksheet.

Step Zero – Discovery

A true partner invests themselves in the client’s business. If you take the time to truly understand your prospect’s space and current situation, you’ll have the inside track on what makes them tick, what an average customer is worth and how your work will make an impact.

This information ensures you speak their language, and that you can justify your ultimate price and the beneficial outcome the client can expect.

Step One – Define clear deliverables

A ‘problem client’ is normally a victim of an ill-prepared set of deliverables. For the most part, ‘the customer is always right’ doesn’t work for service businesses so it’s your responsibility to ensure deliverables are clear and that you don’t meander into to grey areas.

Having to do twice the amount of work isn’t good for you, nor the experience of your clients.

Step Two – Onboarding

‘Onboarding’ can best be described as:

“Gradually introducing a client into a specific relationship or situation via a set of induction actions.”

You can inspire collaboration and a sense of partnership by bringing a client round to your way of thinking, ensuring they’re fully clear on the way you work and align themselves to it.

Step Three – Keep them in the loop, ensure clarity

Going back to the original example, I left my vehicle with the dealership at 09:30. At around 14:00 I received the email above, then at 15:00 I got a call to let me know everything was clear and that my vehicle was going into a valet clean (another surprise).   Then at 16:00 I got a call to confirm that my vehicle was ready for collection.

At 13:00 the next day I got a final call just to ensure everything was okay and that I had a great experience.

Four touchpoints, each with a purpose… each ensuring clarity.

I’m not suggesting you reach out to your clients four times in 24 hours, but we’re talking about a commitment to good communication throughout the lifecycle of the project.

Download ‘The Path’ which breaks down in more detail the specific stages a project should go through to ensure a great relationship and an experience the client will want to shout about. Click here to download the worksheet.

Step Four – Over-deliver, but clearly state when you do it

As a species we become accustomed to new experiences very quickly. You only have to go on vacation for longer than a couple of weeks to almost settle in as if it were your home.

If you consistently over deliver your clients will see this as the new normal. In most cases this isn’t a problem, but what about that time you deliver ‘as expected’? You’re now underperforming against this ‘new normal’ precedent.

The valet deep clean was an unannounced ‘bonus’ yet it was clearly stated that they were doing this. It ensures that next time around I won’t ‘just expect’ that this will be the case again, indeed I’ll be grateful every time it happens.

Step Five – Grow together and enable more spend

This is where all your hard work pays off. By ensuring that your client is overwhelmed by ‘feel-good’ you can assure a sense of momentum.   When you have a good experience, you’re almost too eager to do it all over again.

As a partner, you should already be doing what you can to maximize the lifetime value of each of your clients by looking towards the long term and by investing in the relationship.

This was my first experience with this particular Range Rover dealership, I bought this vehicle from a different one in the area.   You can bet that when the new dealership emails me opportunities and offers in the future I’ll be much more likely to spend my hard-earned with them.

By establishing yourself as a partner and embedding yourself within a client’s strategy you’ll have opportunities for ongoing revenue by assisting clients in other areas loosely related to your own.

In Closing: Amaze your clients

In doing all of this, you can ensure that you are remarkable, that clients are bouncing away from your service telling everyone they know about you.

Maybe they’ll even write about that service experience to an audience of 7,000+ freelancers, who knows ;)

Download ‘The Path’ which breaks down in more detail the specific stages a project should go through to ensure a great relationship and an experience the client will want to shout about. Click here to download the worksheet.

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  • Sara

    Thanks for the great post, Liam! These are wonderful ideas.
    I’m definitely going to incorporate a video going through design changes for my next project. The client won’t expect it, and it will be just another way of differentiating myself.

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