This past weekend I stayed at a nice, expensive hotel in Washington, DC. I called to have the valet bring up my car so I could drive to a conference, and when I arrived at the front door of the hotel, a long line of people waiting for cars and taxis greeted me. All of them looked unhappy that no one was there to help them. But one couple looked especially unhappy.
A few minutes passed, and the manager of the hotel arrived to tell the unhappy couple that the hotel had indeed lost their Range Rover. Yes, the valet took their automobile, and it was no longer in their parking garage. You might imagine that the couple wasn’t pleased by this news. They were angry, upset, and emotional. They pleaded with the manager to help them, to do something. At one point, the manager of the hotel turned to the couple and shouted: “Settle down! We’re looking for your car!”
I was familiar with most all of the profanities that the unhappy, Range-Rover-missing couple uncorked on the hotel manager as they jumped in a taxi and took off. I have no idea how this story ended, but here’s the lesson: You have to care as much or more about your customer’s problem as they do—and they have to feel it.
You Care, Or You Don’t Care
If you have clients, you are going to have problems (it comes with the territory). Some of the problems will be relatively small and easy to rectify. Other problems and challenges are going to stretch the limits of your imagination—and the limits of your resourcefulness.
Here is the first law for dealing with client or customer problems:
If your client believes that you care as much or more than they do about solving their problem, then you can survive problems of almost any size. If your client believes that you don’t care about them, you can’t survive even relatively small problems.
The hotel manager was under stress. I am certain it was the first time a car disappeared on his watch. He was frustrated. But he stood face-to-face with his customers and argued with them about their missing car. He would have done better to stand beside them and look at their problem through their eyes. He was missing empathy; the ability to show his clients how much he cared.
It matters greatly that you care. It matters even more that your client’s can feel that you care. There isn’t a substitute, and it can’t be faked. This is the real test for whether or not you win clients, and it’s the real test as to whether or not you retain them.
How do your dream clients, your prospects, know that you care about them?
How do your existing clients know that you care about them?
When you have a problem with something you buy, how important is it the company and the person you ask for help care about you and the outcome you need?
How do you demonstrate that you care and how does that caring impact your client relationships?