Just read an excellent post over at the Customer Think blog. It quotes an article in Inc. Magazine in which the author references a Navy SEALS training tactic. At the completion of an all-out four-mile run, the distance is suddenly extended to ten miles. It’s easy to understand why the SEALS would do this; in that line of work, your life (and many others) could suddenly depend upon your ability to stretch far beyond any level of exertion you might have envisioned before.
In the post, Nick Wassenberg draws the parallel to winning – and retaining – your customer’s interest and business. I’ve written about this subject before, but human nature being what it is, we all need the periodic reminder. Simply put, laurels don’t last long. And there are competitors out there that are likely much more motivated and energized to “get in to see” your clients than you are to make sure those clients are satisfied with you. Not “in general” or ‘overall” but right now, today.
Clients’ needs change over time, and become more complicated. Whether they say so or not, they expect that you will stay on top of those needs, and use your trusted position to help them more and more. DO it, or someone else will get the chance. My favorite business philosophy calls for treating every client meeting as a new business pitch. That’s the level of engagement you should demonstrate before and at every meeting. Think Navy SEALs here.
Yes, to borrow one cliche’, client satisfaction is a marathon. But thinking of it that way is dangerous. Because in reality, that marathon is made up of an endless series of sprints. And you’ve got to win each one – or else your marathon is going to end on Heartbreak Hill.