There’s good, and there’s so-so client service. But there’s also stellar client service that’s simply off the charts. This is what gets them not only coming back for more time and time again but also informing all their friends about your company. Superior client service is like a puzzle made of five easy pieces. Put these together, and people will be raving about your company.

1. People

Hire the right people with the right mindset from the start. They have to be able to work as a team and also take responsibility individually, especially when problems arise. Having the right mindset means that the client comes first. It’s always about them, their satisfaction or their problem, and not your company. It only takes one rude, arrogant or uncaring staff member to ruin your company’s image.

2. Training

Make sure your people have the skills and knowledge they need. Competency at the job is a major part of stellar client service. If they’re not ready to handle everything, keep them in training until they are. In addition to company policies and protocols, they also need to be able to think outside of the box, troubleshoot, and deal with the unexpected. The ability to help angry clients is one of the skills all your people need to acquire.

3. Systems and Procedures

Everyone in your company needs to be on the same page. There should be specific guidelines and systems in place for handling as many client service situations as possible.

Create a complete and clear client service policy and put it in writing. It should cover as many situations as you can imagine with a client and have a protocol for dealing with each. At the same time, you need to lay out the principles to follow if a situation comes up that isn’t covered by your policy. By providing both guidelines and principles to follow, your client service staff is freed up to manage the majority of situations, while you can ensure that every client is treated appropriately.

We often consult with professional service firms that complain about the training time and staff turnover. Having policies and procedures in places help mitigate these two issues.

4. Communications

Establish a reliable method and process of communication, not just between your staff and clients, but internally as well. This should be included in your system of protocols. Focus on making communication as quick and efficient as possible. An internal communication breakdown can turn a small client service problem into a total disaster.

5. Service

No matter how good your client relations may be, the actual service itself that you provide has to meet or exceed client expectations. Part of good client service is listening to client feedback and making improvements to your services. Client suggestions and complaints are a prime opportunity to help you provide a better service. And, when clients see that you’ve responded to their suggestions, they become all the more impressed with your brand and loyal to your company.

When creating these five essential pieces of the client service puzzle for your company, start with the client. Put yourself in their place and imagine how you’d like to be treated. When hiring staff, ask yourself if you, as a client, would enjoy interacting with this individual. Create training materials and service protocols that handle your clients’ concerns in a way you’d expect your own to be handled. Once everything is established, always continue striving to improve your client service. That’s how you make it not just good, but untouchable by your competition.

For more on how your professional service firm can create exceptional client service, check out our report on “Client Service Excellence for Professional Service Companies.”