Being the favourite relates to an internal feeling, which means no one else can dictate that for you. This is why being the favourite service provider in the mind of your customers/clients is more important than simply being the best on paper. With so many agencies that exist within the advertising industry who are so great at what they do, the only thing that can set you apart is the overall experience.
"We believe the way you make people feel is what they remember more than anything.” - The Art of Hospitality, Danny Meyer, New York City restaurateur and CEO of the Union Square Hospitality.
There is no excuse for not knowing your clients, their business, their products, their offerings, their industry and what makes them tick. This should also include what do they love and dislike inside and outside their office setting. Understanding their competitors and customers will help govern the expert experience they rely on us to share. I talk to our client services and creative team constantly about finding ways to be the expert, it requires zero talent to do research and understand their business, it just requires an inquisitive mind and a bit of effort.
This level of knowledge is what can set you apart from competitors. You may not have the ‘best’ technical skills, but you have the best ‘overall’ experience, and this can be your business strategy.
Danny Meyer is throwing out the conventional saying, “the customer is always right” and instead focuses his business strategy on “the customer comes second”. He believes there is a vast, real difference between ‘service’ and ‘hospitality’ and strives to make his people understand the difference. Service is doing your job. Doing what is expected of you on a day-to-day basis. Hospitality is how you make somebody feel, and that is what will be remembered and the reason you are chosen over other companies, agencies or whatever form your industry takes. It’s the reason customers will keep coming back to that restaurant. Every time they go there, it’s not necessarily the best food ever, but they walk out of the restaurant feeling better than when they first walked in, every time!
So how do we make sure every client walks out of an interaction with us every time feeling better than when they walked in? With great difficulty because we have to tell clients they are wrong, that there is a different way of doing things, that what they had in their head is not necessarily correct. In order to be trusted to change results, we need to know everything we can about them and their business.
For this approach to succeed, you need to ensure that the people who come in to work every day are happy if you want customers/clients to have any chance of receiving the best experience possible. Being the ‘favourite’ rather than the ‘best’ will get you through the tough times or the mistakes as the foundations have been laid, trust and respect have been established and an open relationship will exist. A client is going to feel comfortable having those ‘difficult’ conversations knowing that you are genuinely there to do everything possible to find a solution and to make it better. There is nowhere else they would rather be, or no one else they would rather be doing business with. You are their favourite and no one can argue with that!