Keeping your Promise
From the moment they say ‘Yes!’, and sign up to your service, your customers want to see that you are keeping the promise you made them. Business Consultant Kirsten Gibbs breaks this down.
Your clients take a big risk signing up with you. If their decision turns out to be wrong, it’s not just the loss of time, effort and money that will be painful. The loss of confidence in their own judgement will be worse.
So, from the moment they say ‘Yes!’ and sign up to your service, you need to be showing your new customer that you will keep the promise you made them.
That means having a systematic process for delivering your service, not just in terms of what you do, but also how you do it.
It’s not just what you do, but how you do it.
As an accountant, much of what you do is pretty much the same as what other accountants do.
For example, if your new client is established, you’ll need to collect their books and records from their previous accountant, or from their in-house team. Otherwise you’ll have to set them up from scratch.
From then on it’s largely a matter of collecting information at whatever interval is necessary to deliver management accounts; VAT Returns; payroll services; end of year accounts; tax advice and whatever else they’ve signed up for.
The thing that makes you unique is the way you do these things. That way is driven by your Promise of Value – your unique combination of the transformation you help your clients to achieve and the core values and behaviours you espouse.
Find a Metaphor
One thing that really helps is to find a metaphor for the relationship you have with clients that sums up your Promise of Value.
For one of my clients this was “We are Houston to your space mission”. Their clients are somewhere on an exploration from blast-off to a galaxy far, far away. Some want to comfortably maintain the orbit they are in, others want to expand their orbit. Others are reaching for the stars.
For another client, the metaphor was fuzzier: “You come to us for your bookkeeping, and 10 years later we’re best man at your wedding”. Nevertheless it was effective, and well-reflected in they way they did things. Not for them email newsletters, mailshots or seminars. Their preferred approach was to hold rounders matches in the field behind their offices. Clients were invited to bring their families and friends along.
You can take your metaphor as far as you like – even using it to define internal roles, such as Flight Dynamics Officer, Capsule Communicator, or you can use it simply to inform how your business works.
Build it in
The key point here is that the way you do things must live up to your Promise of Value at all times.
Do you claim to be ‘tech-savvy’?
How do you demonstrate that in everything you do, from sign-up onwards? Are you undermining that claim anywhere in the way you Share and Keep your Promise?
Do you say you’re ‘approachable’? What does that actually mean for clients? Can they talk to you anytime? Can they drop in uninvited? Can they communicate in their preferred medium or do they have to use yours? Do you charge for phone calls or meetings? Have you allowed for this in your pricing?
Are you offering to be ‘a partner’ to your clients? How does that play out? mHow do you share in their risk? How do you share in their good fortune?
Only you can decide these things, but you do have to decide
Then you must design the results into every process you run, so that the client experiences your Promise at every turn, delivered by everyone in your business intentionally, consistently and profitably.
Of course that isn’t the end of it. The world changes, technology changes, customer needs change, and that means your business system will need to change too.
Next time, we’ll take a look at how that might work.
Kirsten Gibbs is the Gibbs in Gibbs and Partners. Find out more about what she does.