A Secret About A World Business Leader And Client Service Excellence
I just heard an amazing story about one of the world’s most powerful business leaders and how he still understands one of the greatest traits of client service ninjas. It gave me a shiver. I’ll never forget it. Give it a read. It will stay with you forever.
I don’t believe clients every see us as ‘partners’. They see us as suppliers. Why? Because I know that if I stuff up twice in a row, maybe three times, I will be fired by my client. Partnerships are more resilient than that.
The trick is to become your client’s most valuable, indispensable supplier. You have to become a trusted advisor. And one critical trait of a trusted advisor is often overlooked. Here it is, and a great story of a business tycoon who still gets it right today. It’s a story only a few people know about. Now you do too – if you read on.
Remember the small people in the client organization.
The receptionist. Secretary. Tea trolley person. Dispatch person. Build ‘goodwill equity’ with the ‘smaller’ people on the client’s team. Here’s my guarantee. They will SAVE YOU when you stuff up, if they can… They’ll delete an email you sent by mistake to their boss, retrieve a document you sent and want to amend, give you a heads up when you need it. They never forget the kindness you show them, and will walk over hot coals when you need them to in return.
Here’s that great story I promised.
I met with a new colleague this week in Melbourne. He told me this. “In a previous life, I was seconded to the World Economic Forum to help shape the agenda for the World Business Leader’s Group, a meeting of the 40 most powerful business people in the world held as part of Davos.
“I was the only outsider in the room. As the note taker, I had to sit at the big square table with these 40 leaders so I could see who was talking. That first year, as we prepared to sit down, my heart sank as I was seized with fear. I suddenly realized whomever I sat next to would be disappointed. They’d want to be sitting next to Gates or the like, but instead would find themselves next to the junior hired help.
“I began to panic as I approached the table. Then, I felt a hand on my shoulder. “Who are you?” a voice asked. I explained my role. “Excellent. You come sit next to me.” And I did. And every year after that when I was still doing this role the same global business leader would seek me out before the meeting began, greet me warmly, and insist I sit next to him.
“And you know what, if he rang me today and asked me to walk over hot coals for him, I would- without hesitation.”
Michael Dell understood the power of looking after the little people. And he also clearly is a guy with a big heart.
Remember the little people. Put in the work to build those relationships and build goodwill equity. You don’t make friends in a crisis. You make them before you need their help. I call it ‘Building Goodwill Equity.” And when you do stuff up, they will save you. Promise.