How to Make Your Clients Feel Special

Mary Kay Ash built an amazing company culture. She frequently said, “Imagine every human being you meet has an invisible sign around their neck that says make me feel special.” Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want.” What do your clients want? They want to feel special.

Start by using your client’s name. Famous leadership writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie said, “The sweetest sounding music to a person’s ear is their own name.” By the way, this also benefits you outside of serving your clients. When you begin to recognize others by name, they will respond differently. I travel a great deal and make it a habit to call anyone who serves me by name. Whether it’s a flight attendant, front desk clerk, wait staff, or bell hop, I ask them their name if they don’t have a name tag. I prefer calling people by their last name if I am serving them, but if you have a casual atmosphere like Southwest Airlines, you might call them by their first name.

I first started calling people by their names so I could get better at remembering names. But I soon realized I got better service when I did that. Instead of having a flight attendant scowl, many times they check with me personally every time they pass by! One flight attendant moved me to first class after the airplane doors were shut (which is illegal post-911). It is amazing to me that such a small thing makes a difference, but it does. It just goes to show you how much people are starving to be recognized. Your clients are no different.

They crave attention. Give it to them and you’ll be the star. Recognize them by name.

Also, anticipate their needs. Remember the high-end waiter example? The water was filled before the customer asked for it. We knew someone would pull out a cigarette, so the lighter was ready.

Work is theatre, and every business is a stage.

The Experience Economy book that I mentioned in Phenomenal Market- ing Systems has a subtitle: Work is Theatre and Every Business is a Stage. A Phenomenal Operations System is a theatre production designed to create the right experience consistently.

I can’t tell you too much about the theatre firsthand because I’m not allowed to go to a show with my wife any longer. That ended about ten years ago because of one simple fact: I fall asleep. Yes, that can be a problem when a lot of money has been spent on tickets and I’m snoring or drooling on some lady’s mink! I get up early to write, think, and plan. I drink strong coffee in the morning, and I’m full throttle all day. As soon as I sit down in the evening, I’m out. If we turn on the news or a great movie, it’s rare that I’ll make it through.

A few years ago, I was working on a joint-venture project with a multibillion dollar company. We were meeting all the “big Whigs” in Las Vegas. My contact called me and told me they were taking us to a show. “Oh…,” I said. He responded, “Yes, how did you know we’re going to see “O” [a Cirque de Soleil show], aren’t you excited?” “Ohhhhhh,” I said, thinking to myself, This is going to be really bad. Here these high-level guys are taking us out for a big dinner and a show, and I’m going to fall asleep! Not good!

I made sure I had a pocketful of sunflower seeds (I use those to stay awake when I drive). I drank a Venti Starbucks right before the show—but believe it or not, I can go right to sleep after drinking one of those things. I told my friends on the team to make sure I sat as far away from the head guys as possible. And I told my buddy next to me that he had my permission to do whatever he had to do to keep me awake.

Fortunately, I found a new solution to my problem. I clapped as hard as I could after every scene. So hard that my hands hurt after the show, but it kept me awake. And the best part was, because of the excessive clapping they all thought I loved the show. Of course that could become a problem if we ever go to Las Vegas together again!

When you think of theatre, what is it? It’s entertainment. What does entertainment do? It takes you on an emotional journey. My wife loves the movie The Sound of Music partly because it was the first movie she saw at a theatre. What emotion do you want your experience to invoke? Excitement? Concern? Passion?

Remember that customers always buy on emotion. Always. And when you create a phenomenal service experience, you have built in the emotion you want to help your client feel. Let me pause to remind you not to manipulate. You have a responsibility not to cross the line. Using undue pressure or fear is out of line. Make sure that what you are offering and how you present it and serve it is with the utmost integrity—and make sure it’s a win for everyone involved.

Now think about this: the “show” is repeated night after night, invoking the same emotion at the exact point in the production each and every time. This is what needs to happen in your business. What does the set look like? This is your store, your vehicles, your materials. Who are the characters? What do they look like? How do they act? What do they wear (the costume)? What is the script? Can you see how creating a system of production is much like a theatre production? It’s a show. Treat it that way.