Recently a friend shared with me how she had to calm one of her friends because the person was livid about how they had been treated by their coach.
This is someone who had invested several thousands of dollars for transformation and they had a crisis. When they called their coach too to say, “I need help right now. I'm amid a major crisis!” The coach’s response was, “Well, I'm about to jump on a call and I'll try to get back with you later on today.”
The client is now demanding a full refund because the trust and integrity of the relationship have been severely compromised beyond repair. So, the question comes to us from this extreme example…are your clients a priority or a commodity?
Our initial response is to answer with an indignant, “Well, of course they’re the priority!” However, if we ask the clients, what would their response be?
While the average client does not expect any of us in the coaching sector to drop everything at a moment’s notice when they call, they do expect us to get back to them in a timely manner and to make sure they feel as though we are trying to meet their needs…even those that are unanticipated. Now, this case is more extreme because the outcome could have been very tragic. In the time/place we currently live in, where the pressures from both the pandemic and the recent protests in the US fray people's nerves, tolerance and understanding are in short supply. Perhaps this situation could have been handled with much more grace, but the question still comes back to us…are our customers a priority or a commodity?
A priority is something that is of the utmost importance almost beyond everything else. So, when someone calls saying they are in a major crisis right now, they have every right to expect us to drop what we are doing and see to their needs because we don't know what actions they are prepared to take if they don't get immediate attention and/or help. In an extreme situation, they could be contemplating suicide, homicide, or both. If you are not in a position right then to address their needs, do you have a plan in place with partners or team members that can step to the plate in your absence? If not, now would be an excellent time to consider starting those relationships.
If you are otherwise occupied or about to be, you could say to the regularly scheduled person, “I have an unexpected emergency and I would beg you to let me reschedule this so that I can address it fully.” Even though folks may not appreciate a last-minute cancellation, most folks will give you grace, if it's framed correctly. To do less is beneath whatever oath, promises made, intentions set, etc. that were agreed upon by you and each client at the start of your relationship.
A commodity is different in that it is something that can be useful or valuable but generally only to our personal gain. The moment customers or clients begin to feel this is your view of them, the relationship is in danger. It's not so much the perceived lack of empathy, understanding, etc., but rather the fact that they will tell someone. In this age and time of social media working 24/7, can we really afford to make that narrative even a possibility in their minds?
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