5 Power Policies
Question for you: What is an easy and effective way to: * Increase client confidence in their decision to work with you? * Get better, more lasting results from your work? * Preserve your ene...
* Increase client confidence in their decision to work with you?
* Get better, more lasting results from your work?
* Preserve your energy and focus for the mission critical parts of your work?
* Boost the perceived value of your service?
* Strengthen your ability to handle sticky client situations with ease and grace?
Answer: Service Policies.
(I know, not a very fun topic! But bear with me -- this is really important stuff!)
Having and communicating really clear business policies can accomplish all that, and more. Yet many service based entrepreneurs resist having clear policies. They don’t want to appear ‘strict’ or inflexible. They want to be helpful and of service, not rigid and bureaucratic. For many, relationships are key and policies seem so impersonal. And, truthfully, they fear enforcing policies will lead to conflict with a valued client.
But the truth is, well crafted policies are just as important to the overall client experience—and results—as is your content and skill. They are a critical part of the way you deliver your expertise and service. In fact, policies create a solid foundation upon which your business can grow and serve more clients. They put decisions on auto-pilot so you can focus on your mission critical work. They give clients clarity and confidence that you know what you’re doing, and are taking care of business. They demonstrate the stand you take in your business—for the client, for their experience and for the results you have promised, not to mention for your own sanity and well being!
Here are the Top 5 Power Policies you must cover in your service agreements to ensure a great overall experience for you and your clients. (It’s important to note that you may end up having some variations of your policies across your different levels of service or products, so it can be really helpful to walk through this list for each program, product or service you sell.)
1. Payment Policies
How and when should payment be received? What forms of payments will you accept? Do you provide payment plans? What happens if payment is late, a check bounces or a credit card is declined? Do you give a discount for pre-payment? Do you charge more for payment plans?
2. Withdrawal or early termination of service
What is the duration of the contract or service agreement? What happens if a client wishes to end the agreement early? What happens if a client chooses to stop participating without giving you any indication? What is your policy for letting clients quit or leave a program? When would you support it and when would you hold them to their original commitment?
Do you offer a guarantee of any kind? Often we’re told it helps in marketing—but you have to be sure that using this strategy makes sense in the overall delivery of the service. Clearly state the policy and procedure for when and how to request a refund, if you choose to offer them. Will you give full refunds? Prorated refunds? How will you calculate it? If the customer is returning a product, who will cover return shipping fees?
4. Cancellations and No Shows
If you work on an appointment basis, what is your policy for cancellations? Within what timeframe will you reschedule? And at what point is the appointment not going to be rescheduled? How many no-show’s will you accept and is it cause for terminating your agreement?
5. Time Frame of service
How long will you honor unused parts of the service or program? For example, if you give a client a specific number of private sessions as part of their package, at what point do they forfeit the sessions unused? If you offer a bonus, how long is that bonus good for? Are they good forever? Is there a specific frequency you expect clients to schedule with you or will unused time ‘rollover’ from month to month?
There is no clear cut answer to what is ‘right’ or best for each of these policies because your policies need to be congruent with your overall business strategy and the level of service. For example, if the service is an individual service you may allow more flexibility than if you are running a group program where you have to consider the overall experience of the group.
So here are a few important considerations to help you think through your strategic business policies:
1. Does the policy demonstrates that you take a powerful stand for the ultimate goal the client wants and is paying for?
2. Does the policy preserve your focus, energy and resources so you can be of maximum service (rather than mired in minor client administrative details)?
3. Does the policy simplify your ability to deliver on your promises and the client’s ability to receive results?
4. Does the policy reflect the level of professionalism and quality service clients have come to expect of your company?
5. Does the policy clearly communicate the standards and values you and your business hold dear?
With your service policies firmly in place, everyone—not the least of which you—knows exactly what to expect and can focus on creating great results. Your team can handle routine questions. Your clients respect your professionalism. You eliminate doubt and confusion. And you close off ‘loopholes’ which might allow a client to get less of a result than they came for.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shawn Driscoll helps visionary entrepreneurs build successful, high impact, high income businesses in a way that’s authentic and true to their values. She guides them to discover their unique Signature Advantage ™ and become a recognized authority in their market while spending their days doing work they love. Claim your complimentary copy of her free audio class “The Signature Program Payoff” at www.YourSignatureProgram.com