How To Keep Clients Coming Back For More- And More

Hotel1My favorite hotel stuffed up a critical ‘moment of truth’ last week. So basic. So damaging. And a powerful lesson for us all. If you have clients, then read this post. Follow this one tip, and you’ll keep clients longer- much longer. Here’s how.

I’ve stayed at the hotel once a month for 14 years. Loyalty personified. Last Tuesday, having booked my normal style of room on an important visit accompanied by family, I was given the worst room in the hotel- wrong bed configuration, and a heavy smoker clearly having recently frequented it. Wrong. All wrong. I asked to change rooms. Hotel fully booked. I asked again. Minimal response. “But it was not what I booked,” I pleaded.  Bad luck- it’s all we have. I rushed off to a meeting. Tried to resolve by phone. The outcome- it does not matter. Here’s the point.

This hotel failed in the most basic imperative of outstanding client service. Here it is:

It failed to deliver Zero Moments of Dissatisfaction.

Now- think upon this a moment. It is a gem. Here’s why.

The most critical Moment of Truth in a client/service provider relationship is quite simply, when something goes wrong. Either the client has stuffed up, you have stuffed up, or the client is upset about something. How you react in these circumstances creates a powerful new perception in the client’s brain- they evaluate their relationship with you almost entirely on this moment. Get it wrong- and you are cactus. Get it right- triumph!

I’ve spent a lot of time training people on client service excellence- including the need to deliver outstanding Moments of Truth for clients- where we exceed expectations at those critical moments where clients are evaluating whether we are ‘worthy.’ And the most critical moment of all is when the proverbial hits the fan- for whatever reason.

Then Kiwi Andy gave me a new insight. “Ok- moments of truth are important. But if you want to run a genuinely outstanding service business, focus all your attention on ensuring Zero Moments of Dissatisfaction.”

So- what to do for your business

Think about all those moments and triggers where your clients get irritated and frustrated with your agency. Lots of them will be from very simple things. Slow response to a phone message. Inability to get hold of you. Typos. Deadlines missed. No car parks for their visit. An invoice over budget and no prior warning. List them out. And then work hard on minimizing and eradicating them. ZERO moments of dissatisfaction.

Now- of course things will go wrong. That critical Moment of Truth will arrive. And when it does- react with speed, sensitivity, emotional intelligence, genuine intent to fix the problem, empathy and humility. Do what is needed to fix it.

Meanwhile- work every day to minimizing Moments of Dissatisfaction. Become an agency with a great track record of Zero Moments of Dissatisfaction, and business will thrive.

Oh- and that hotel. You know, after all my years of loyalty, and even after accepting a gradual lowering of standards in recent times, this was the final straw. Big moment of dissatisfaction. The lesson: give the customer the room they booked and you confirmed you would give them. They did not do this. Then they stuffed up how they reacted to the Moment of Truth- how they responded to the pissed off customer.

Not good enough. New hotel next time. Tough? No! Just business in 2014. And fair enough.


Hope you like the new look and feel of Possums. My thanks to my colleagues at Houston for doing the design – at a price I could afford. That is, zero! Great job Houston and thank you- a heartfelt thank you. I updated the design because it was time to give it a different vibe and to de-personalise it a step. Anyway- I like it. A lot. Let me know your thoughts.

, ,

30 Responses to How To Keep Clients Coming Back For More- And More

  1. Tony Bonney April 9, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    I like it too Chris!

    Thanks for the terrific ongoing insights – now feeling all new and improved!


    • Chris Savage April 9, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      Thanks Tony- good to hear from you. Chris

    • Jason Montgomery April 9, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

      Excellent post Chris I’m in a service industry and we regularly remind our staff “your only as good as the last job you did” In todays world you cannot simply rely on loyalty and having been good/great in the past. There is always someone ready to step into your spot! So vital is how you handle the incident when things go wrong can make or break all the work put into building a relationship in just moments.

      • Chris Savage April 10, 2014 at 8:26 am #

        Thanks Jason- appreciated. Chris

  2. Gman April 9, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    Awesome Chris…. Love your work and your new site!!

    After 14 years one would expect the beds turned down at night. Unfortunately your experience of poor service has become (in my humble opinion) all too common in NZ, particularity in the hospitality sector.

    It is much easier and beneficial to keep existing [happy] customers than to find new ones however many of the hotels, cafes and restaurants that I have visited over the last 3 years throughout NZ have been disappointing and in some circumstances so poor they will never see me or my money ever again!

    Keep up the great content

  3. Garth April 9, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    Like it…..’zero moments’ and the new look! Your posts are great reminders of what to focus on. Thanks Chris

    • Chris Savage April 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      Thanks Garth- hope all going well at the Invisible Agency

  4. Cecelia April 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Chris, you are so right. I have just shared this article with my team. Sometimes what we think may not be a big deal, is to our clients. Its all about perspective. thanks for sharing….

    • Chris Savage April 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      Thanks Cecelia!

  5. Hayley Buckner April 9, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    Thank you! Great insight. I am now on a pure focus of ZERO moments of dissatisfaction. Wish me luck and bring it on!

    • Chris Savage April 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      Good luck with it Hayley!!

  6. Joan Young April 9, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Chris you have hit it on the nail – we focus so much on delighting clients as the way to win relationship equity whereas a focus on meeting the basic, fundamental but critical needs of our clients is just as, if not more important.
    Thanks for the reminder.

    • Chris Savage April 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      Thanks Joan!

  7. Padraig (pod) OSullivan April 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    Great design.
    Don’t de personalise the stories though… that is why I read them!
    BTW is this built on Word press?

    • Chris Savage April 9, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

      Thanks Pod- and yes it is. Chris

  8. Rob Davidson April 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    Interesting Chris. This endorses some research I saw recently. The claim was that customer dissatisfaction is much more heavily correlated to defection than customer satisfaction is to loyalty.

    • Chris Savage April 9, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

      Thanks Rob- that is a great point which I will now steal and claim as my own!

  9. Chris April 9, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    Bang on..and the biggie for ideas people… so much of it is about a mind set and way of working that is not in harmony with creativity. Teaching all how the 2 can sit side by side is key. Sadly there is a tendency of one style to bag the other. Maybe part of the answer is to have teams of different people who respect each others skills

    • Chris Savage April 9, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

      Thanks Chris!

  10. JR April 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

    ‘Tough? No! Just business in 2014.’ -Spot on.

    Great post and love the new look.


    • Chris Savage April 9, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

      Thanks John!

  11. Wendy McWilliams April 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    ZMD, my new mantra. Thanks Chris.

    • Chris Savage April 10, 2014 at 8:26 am #

      Thanks Wendy! Good luck with it!!

  12. Chris Pillay April 9, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

    Spot on. This is so powerful ‘ZERO MOMENTS OF DISSATISFACTION”.

    Thank you

    • Chris Savage April 10, 2014 at 8:26 am #

      Thanks Chris! Hope all is good in the Republic. Chris

  13. ross clennett April 14, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Great post Chris, with a very appropriate message at this time of year when people are travelling a lot and using the services of many hospitality providers. I also had a poor experience with a hotel that I blogged about (naming the hotel and generating a response from the hotel Guest Relations manager) >

  14. John April 15, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    Great new look Chris… for your site, that is! Another excellent blog shared with my wider team.

    • Chris Savage April 16, 2014 at 8:44 am #

      Thanks Gardy!

  15. Jayne Albiston April 28, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Great reminder Chris – I like the new look but it is depersonalised. Just want you to know that your blog is the ONLY blog I always read and that was because of its personal nature. I have known it is authentic. Don’t lose that. 🙂

    • Chris Savage April 28, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

      Thanks Jayne- really appreciate your comments. I depersonalised the look of the blog. Hopefully the content will continue to come from the heart! Chris

Leave a Reply to Chris Savage Click here to cancel reply.