If you’ve been in business for more than a minute you’ve experienced an unsatisfied client. Maybe they noticed a flaw in your product years after the fact and wanted to know how you were going to fix it. How about a location session for which you had to travel, and the client never showed? Then there’s the challenging call that comes after a great sales session when the client says they’ve changed their mind; they’re no longer interested. After the shock wears off, you have to respond. I believe that response is the key to whether you create a brand ambassador or a brand basher.
It’s easy to throw down the fairness card and respond through that filter. A Google search popped up this definition from Oxford Languages:
Fairness: Impartial and just treatment or behavior without favoritism or discrimination. “Part of my role is to ensure fairness to all parties.”
This fairness card might work for sports and in the court of law, but it seldom has a place in building a remarkable, enduring brand. When was the last time you heard someone say how much they love a brand because of how fairly they were treated during their experience with it?
There must be a better approach or a different card to throw when processing our decisions. How about a love card? What if a business has a set of values that revolves around love instead of fairness? Think back to a time when one of your favorite brands corrected an issue for you. I imagine they might have come at it from a foundational place of love for you as their client.
Difficult and disgruntled clients are a challenge every business owner faces. Will you approach them through the lens of fairness or love?
When I think of amazing brands with over-the-top customer service, The Ritz-Carlton is first on my list. They hand over ownership to employees, who are authorized to spend up to $2,000 to solve a customer issue, no questions asked. This brand is wrapped in a luxurious experience, customer care, consistency, and trust. It’s no accident that such a large company is able to hold the top spot in customer service.
Nordstrom is another brand that’s in nearly every conversation about world-class customer service. Two of their main principles are to deliver an outstanding customer experience and to empower employees. Do yourself a favor and visit a Nordstrom, if for nothing more than research and development for your own brand. Purchase some small item, and you will see the full power of their belief system in action.
Back to my love card principle. The mission statement for my business is really a values statement regarding what we love, representing five foundational beliefs of Gregory Daniel Portrait Artist: honesty, family, caring, flexibility, and ownership. These five values are the foundation for our operation and have become the place we find the easy answers to difficult decisions. This list is a result of who we are, and it’s a great reminder of who we say we are to the world. There are no long definitions of what they mean printed on a large framed poster in the work room. Pat, our studio and gallery manager, printed out a simple list for each of us as a reminder of what we believe and hold closely in our hearts for ourselves, each other, and our clients. My copy is posted just under the apple logo on my iMac.
Difficult and disgruntled clients are a challenge every business owner faces. Will you approach them through the lens of fairness or love? What words will clients use to describe your brand’s customer service? An authentically derived plan that’s reflective of your feelings for people can lead to great success.
It’s been a year of difficult twists and turns. I want to thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made to keep yourself as well as your family, friends, and clients safe. I encourage you to breathe life into others at every opportunity. Your words of encouragement may be the reason a young boy—like me years ago—achieves his dreams.
Gregory Daniel is the owner of Gregory Daniel Portrait Artist in Titusville, Florida.
Adapt to ever-changing conditions and client needs while being true to your core values.