If your idea of excellent client care still looks like the customer service portion of the training videos at your first job, it’s time for an upgraded perspective.

Most business owners train their teams to follow the most basic checklist for keeping clients happy.

  • Be on time.
  • Look clean and professional.
  • Be courteous and respectful.
  • Do your best work.
  • Charge a fair price.

Seems like a reasonable list, right? There’s just one problem:

This is the bare minimum.

When your staff follows this checklist, your company doesn’t stand out among the competition. Your clients don’t feel a deep appreciation for your brand or enthusiastically recommend you to friends. Instead, they see you as professionals who . . . you know . . . do what you’re supposed to do. Now, is that a bad thing? No. Is it the best you can do? Not by a long shot.

If you want to rise to the top of your industry, you have to provide a customer experience that your buyers won’t find with anyone else.

Here’s how.

The Customer Service Model That Sets Your Company Apart

Put yourself in the client’s shoes for a minute. Think of the absolute best customer experience you’ve ever had. What made it so great? How did you feel after the interaction?

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that your answer is not, “I felt admiration for their punctuality and perfect pant creases.” Sure, you may have appreciated those things, but odds are, your best-ever customer service experience was something like:

“They helped me feel calm in a difficult situation.” Or maybe, “They made me feel heard and understood by tailoring their service according to my exact needs.”

If you want endear yourself to your client, set the customer service checklist aside for a moment. Instead, ask yourself—and your team—how you want the customer to feel after the job is done. What emotional experience would make them turn to you again or pass your name along to a friend or family member?

When you know the answer to this question and allow that answer to guide your customer service approach, you discover a profound competitive edge. Here’s how that worked for my national franchise.

Creating a Reputation for Uplifting Customer Service

When I started 911 Restoration several years ago, I asked myself how I wanted our customers to feel after the restoration team left their property. The answer was clear right away. I wanted them to feel uplifted. I wanted them to feel like their day was better and brighter because they’d called 911 Restoration.

This was a high bar to clear. My company handles fire, water, mold, and disaster restoration. We meet clients in their darkest moments. They’ve been struck by the unexpected. They have new expenses they didn’t plan for and are afraid their home or business will never be the same. And yet, I was determined to help my team guide customers from that devastated frame of mind to one of inspiration and possibility.

This was how 911 Restoration became known as the Fresh Start company. Our team vowed to approach every challenge as an opportunity for growth and improvement—both in the office and on the job. We then brought this attitude to our clients, actively demonstrating that a property disaster was also a chance to rebuild better than before.

I emphasized the importance of making customers feel seen and valued. In training, I still teach my team members to listen and be fully present in client interactions. They learn to pay attention to our customers’ human needs first. Our technicians don’t just rush through the door with a wet vac. They notice if the client is scared, stressed about money, or worried about losing business while their shop is closed for restoration. Then, our staff finds ways to ease that burden.

They might assure clients with an uplifting story about a customer with the exact same problem last week. They might clear up common financial questions before the client even has to ask. They might explain what they’re doing to fix the problem quickly so the customer can open their doors again.

The first and greatest goal in every job is to replace anxiety with certainty and angst with optimism. That type of customer service goes well beyond greeting the client in a professional and courteous manner.

Training Your Team to Be an Inspiration for Customers

Of course, I’m not saying you should do away with the old customer service standards. I’m just saying you should recognize that the basics are just that. They’re basic. They should be a given, and if your company stands out because your employees are punctual and pleasant, it doesn’t mean your business is exceptional. It means your competition is rotten.

If you’re ready to step up your customer service game, try some of the following ideas at your next staff training.

  • Have your employees share the more human struggles they observe in their customers.
  • Encourage employees to think of a time when they were in your clients’ shoes. What did they worry about most? What did they need beyond practical solutions?
  • Discuss what you’d like your customers to feel after an interaction with your company.
  • As a team, brainstorm things you can do or say to make buyers feel supported, inspired, relieved, or whatever feeling you’d like them to experience.
  • Consider whether there are any services you can add to your routine that would encourage those positive feelings.

Beyond training, remind your staff regularly that your clients’ emotional needs require attention, too. Over time, this new customer service mindset will transform the way every member of your staff does business, from your office manager to your technicians.

Believe me, your community will notice. And they’ll reward you with their trust, confidence, and business.

Idan Shpizear