The next time you interact with a customer, try this:
If you wait tables, make sure that the customer’s experience depends on you, and who you are, and would have been different with another server who served the same meals. If you’re a private banker, make sure that your client’s experience would be totally different if another private banker were delivering the same advice. If you’re a doctor, make sure that the patient’s experience is made special by who you are, and would be different if another doctor delivered the same diagnosis.
Relationship-building encounters don’t happen between “waiter and customer,” “banker and client,” or “doctor and patient.” They happen between human beings. So treat your customer like a full person, and honor what makes them unique. And while you’re doing that make sure that you represent yourself in the encounter, not as a representative of your job role, but as YOU.
I don’t want my clients to think of me as “our consultant, Richard,” but as “Richard, our consultant.” This is not a subtle distinction; it’s the difference between being replaceable, and irreplaceable.
Remember, there’s no one else on earth like YOU. So be YOU, and be irreplaceable.
[thoughts coming from Client Service workshop experiences I’m running for one of the big 4 banks]