Don’t just meet expectations. Exceed them.

Posted: May 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

Good piece here by Travis Bradbury. With apologies to him, here’s my point-by-point take on its relevance to vendors. Even content creators.

Just as a you should strive to make your boss always feel like the smartest dude in the room for having hired you, the culture of every organization should preach the gospel of making their customers/clients feel that same way. Customer satisfaction? Meh. Customer loyalty is what we’re about here! The ad agency where I got my start used to say something to the effect that we weren’t necessarily experts in the business of our clients but that we were ad experts. OK, but no way should this ever stop anyone from learning, constantly, about that client’s business. The more you can learn about any industry, the more value you bring and more valuable you become to the client. And the more you enlarge your understanding of the role you play. Thus, your potential for adding value that constantly grows.

Client/customer management, AKA herding the cats, is underrated. Indeed, it’s quietly appreciated and deeply valued by customers and clients. Manage expectations, of course, but anticipate and pre-empt process bottlenecks and friction. You’re not a valet, exactly, but an instinct for full-service keeps your radar sharp and effective. Become a force-multiplier and your brand reputation for adding value in unexpected places will grow. Brand-building mission accomplished. We couldn’t have done it without those guys!

Crisis communications training places supreme value on owning up to miscues and screw-ups that led to the crisis. When your brand gets whacked, for whatever reason, the worst thing you can do is to emulate the NFL with vague, weasel-worded excuses and “apologies” that are anything but. Be pro-active, man-up and call a screw-up a screw-up. Then make good. Be an old-fashioned good human being who might not be perfect — just perfectly accountable.

“Visionary” is an overused term but customers love vendors who go the extra mile. Or even a few hundred yards. Which is what vision enables. It’s another form of anticipation and it reaffirms your commitment, enthusiasm and initiative. In this way, you become a trusted member of the family. Or at least a closer family friend. Sometimes this is even better.

Branch out. The best ad account executive I ever had was actually the president of an agency that had plenty of AE’s running around. But he just liked sticking his nose in his clients’ business. In a good way. He was a gear-head and loved hanging around engineers and technicians. They were flattered that a guy in his position could be genuinely interested in the science behind their products. He built relationships. It paid off.

If you can keep your head when everyone’s losing theirs, you attract admirers — and more customers. Just as the best salespeople are typically the best problem solvers, vendors who stay cool and calm when the inferno is raging will stand tall. This one is a variation on the accountability trait described above but the difference is in context. When a customer or client references your “professionalism”, this is what they’re talking about. They are loyal customers because you exceeded their expectations.

(This post originally appeared on Linked In)

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