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Client Service – it’s about going back to basics

May 2017

Something I value incredibly highly in business is integrity and client service. The yardstick I use to measure that is the transparency with which people operate. I have long said that if you put your clients at the forefront of everything you do, then clients will start coming your way.

In this fast paced, algorithm-driven world we seem to have created, there is one thing consistently lacking in my mind across many business sectors – putting the client first.

Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Yet the term ‘client service’ can be used incessantly as a ‘buzz word’ on company websites. Many claim to care for their clients, but do they really?

In my mind, it is a case of going back to basics. Looking in a clients’ best interests is putting them at the absolute centre of everything. I ask myself most days, “if this client was a member of my family, how would I advise them?”

I am constantly amazed at how many referral fees go on behind the scenes (and not just in property). Whilst a referred company may be good at what they offer, as soon as a monetary incentive is introduced into the mix, then you instantly have a bias. How then can you then claim to be acting in a client’s best interests? And if that client were to discover a nominal payment was made behind the scenes, then they would lose all confidence in their integrity and more importantly go and inform all their friends. Lack of trust is never a phrase that should come up.

I am regularly approached by businesses offering some kind of incentive to gain access to my clients, but I always turn them down, to the amazement of some of them.

How can I be impartial in such an instance? My claims about working with honesty and integrity would ring very hollow. And yet this kind of financial arrangement is a rife culture in many areas of business. How can you trust recommendations that have come from a service-provider, who is subsequently paid by that third party?

I have spent the last 15 years building relationships with people I trust and have a ‘bank’ of solid, dependable contacts. Yes I suggest their products and services to my clients. However it is safe in the knowledge that they are the right one for each individual client and in full confidence that they will do a good job, as they have proven themselves for a number of clients previously. None of them ask for kickbacks when they send people my way, and neither do I seek anything of them. We are looking at the bigger picture, you might say.

For example, Robert the decorator I suggest has been in the business over 17 years and is of the ‘old school’. I say that he is the only decorator I know who listens to ClassicFM whilst he works, which sums him up perfectly. He always does a great job, at a fair price and sometimes even offers my clients a discount, as he knows they have come from me and will be easy to deal with, as I have guided that client prior to his visit. It is a win-win situation for all involved. Robert gets a decoration job on the right basis. My client has a home presented to a great standard for marketing, which in turn makes mine and the appointed estate agent’s job easier. The property is then sold at the best price.

The payback for me is far more valuable than any below-the-counter monetary backhander and that is word-of-mouth repeat business. I want people to talk about me to each other – that happens by simply putting them first and doing a great job. I don’t ask them to talk about me, it just happens naturally. As I said in last month’s column, 92% of my business came from word of mouth recommendations last year, which probably tells you all you need to know.

You may also be interested in this other article (link).