Invest in yourself and your own development first. Especially for service providers, this is so important. Clients are simply a reflection of our inner state like attracts like. So to truly WOW them, we owe it to ourselves to keep growing and evolving, to find joy, to find fulfillment, to keep our cup full.
Set the boundaries. For sustainable success it’s crucial to be clear on who you serve, how, why, who is not a good fit, what are the commitments and expectations. And, it’s ok to say NO. Because the client is not always right. That said, an extra mile goes a long way and, as someone once said, the space is less crowded there.
As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Oblak Speicher.
Hired by successful transformational business leaders and CEOs who want to leave a legacy of intentional impact, Sara Oblak Speicher is an international award-winning athlete turned Master Mindset Coach, Intuitive Business & Life Strategist, wife, and mom to two globetrotting crystal children.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
By the age of 30, I had more than I had ever dreamed of. I was ambitious, hard-working, and focused, like most of the clients I get to work with as a mentor, coach, and consultant. And just like they have learned that success is only the beginning, so have I.
Born and raised in a medieval town of 20,000 in Slovenia, I was a shy, quiet, and pretty introverted kid who dreamed of traveling the world. At the age of 12, I began traveling around Europe and competing at the highest-level basketball tournaments.
Through hard work, dedication, and passion, I accomplished, created, built, and attracted my international athletic career, which brought me to the USA on a full NCAA D-1 basketball scholarship, my undergraduate and MBA degrees, my soulmate husband, a dream home in New York, our beautiful family, a successful global business, a boutique premium Online Business Management agency I had started from scratch after I lost my job the same week I found out I was pregnant, and traveling the world for weeks on end.
While powering through days of caring for a newborn and a toddler, managing my team, running our household, and planning to retire my husband… something happened.
Postpartum depression and two trips to the ER due to burnout were clear signs that the same work ethic, strategies, and mindset that had given me everything (and much more than I could have ever asked for), could now kill me.
I had some choices and new commitments to make, and to take radical responsibility.
In a way, this experience became my spiritual awakening that has enabled me to, ultimately, reconnect to my true-self. I am no longer caught in the myopic vision, the external pressures, and the weight of ticking off the boxes of someone else’s definition of success.
I am able to create intentional living, a business by design, and to make a greater impact with greater joy, fulfillment, excitement, ease, and grace… while becoming a conscious parent to my crystal children, while traveling with my family for months on end, while reconnecting and recommitting to my loving soulmate husband after my ego was willing to walk away from it all, and while remaining a (to quote my clients) reliable, unflinching, insightful, intuitive, strategic, and compassionate consultant, coach, mentor, to my clients.
Clients who are open-hearted, cutting-edge visionary leaders and experts, who are ready for more WITHOUT adding more to their already crowded work plate…
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
In the beginning, I would do everything by the book. Just like in school or at a job, I tried to fit who I was, how I presented myself, how I spoke to clients, etc. into a box. Even when it felt so manufactured.
For example, I would memorize that elevator pitch like my own name. At networking events, I would be so excited to introduce myself and my work that I had the whole pitch recited while shaking another person’s hand before they even managed to say “hello.”
It’s funny to look back on now.
But I have learned to shift from a “me-centered” to a “client-centered” approach because that is what I am here for to begin with: to help a client with that they want and need. To be genuine!
And that progressively deepened the services that I provide: from strictly strategies to a holistic approach while bringing more and more heart into it. I see clients for the multidimensional, complex beings they are, and strategies and tactics typically are just 5% of what they actually need.
So, to create a WOW experience for them, I surrendered into serving from heart, and not my ego.
This kind of ties into the topic of our interview.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Oh, absolutely! There are many people who are deserving of this acknowledgment, each for teaching me some important lesson and for playing a different role in my life. From my parents, to my basketball coaches, my business and spiritual mentors, to my husband, and especially our daughters.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
Many years ago, I came across one of Grant Cardone’s quotes: “The difference between a contact and a contract is in letter R, and that stands for Relationships.”
I do believe that great customer service and great customer experience cultivate just that.
Moreover, in this era of deep disconnect among people (technology might make everyone accessible, but we are the loneliest and most isolated than ever before), this is more important than ever. Both, for companies and for customers.
Now, that does not equate the belief that “the customer is always right,” nor should it be provided at the expense of the talent within the company, (like underpaid workers, unreasonable timelines, and quotas that lead to burnout, resentment, and even costly (fatal) errors.
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
It starts with seeing customers as humans, first and foremost. Treating them like humans instead of a commodity. Or in some cases, dollars in a bank account.
That requires a profound shift within a company’s culture — from leadership, to hiring the right talent, to training that talent adequately, to providing ongoing opportunities for their growth, evolutions, and engagement.
Otherwise it is just like trying to fill a cup from an empty pitcher.
Secondly, it is important to understand that a customer may hot always be happy, but at the end of the day, it is about doing the right thing.
Lastly, a customer lost due to poor experience is not just lost (repeat) revenue from that particular person, but also potentially lost reputation and business by those whom this customer had shared their negative experience, even anger, with. Not to mention the added cost of new client acquisition!
On the other hand, satisfied customers will not only keep coming back, they will be more comfortable spending more, and they will refer your business to others.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
To a certain degree, absolutely. When done right.
Imagine this for example. A customer service rep is working from their own space on the other side of the world, and is underpaid, so this is probably just one of the gigs that they work. They don’t feel like they truly belong and are not an engaged part of the company. This just perpetuates this paradox of someone being accessible due to technology, but not really available, committed, or connected. Nonetheless, the customer they are supposed to be serving is just a faceless avatar.
Like I stated before, passion, intuition, and a do-good attitude cannot be forced. So it is crucial to bring the right people on board. Those who are the right fit, and then make them a priority. Great examples are Richard Branson’s Virgin companies, who once said “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” And dr. Angela Lauria of Author Incubator.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
Absolutely. Just to make it clear for the reader, my business provides consulting and coaching services, not products, in the industry of online-based and guru-centered tribes, and their programs and courses are built for the masses. Let me give you an example.
Imagine you have 3,000 customers in your online community, each paying a 47 dollars or 97 dollars/mo membership, and each having access to one-for-all video tutorials, PDF templates, and a chat room. There is only so much time, attention, and personalized support each can receive from you, even when you hire a support team. And we are not even talking about expenses related to the operations, marketing, infrastructure, team, etc.
What we have done in my business, however, was to tap into a completely different market and developed a new model that makes our clients feel seen, heard, understood, supported, and special, along every step of the way.
In fact, I used this model when I first started out as a done-for-your service provider in 2011, and have continued to mold it into what is it now.
See, we only work with a handful of our elite clients, and that allows us to develop genuine relationship with them.
The year my second daughter was about to be born, my then-agency was experiencing exponential growth. Even then, I was the point of contact for all of our clients, some of whom had been with me for years.
However, I knew some major changes had to be made to assure the sustainability of the business, as well as the quality of our services.
Not to mention, unlike working from a hospital bed a few years prior when our first daughter was born (at the time, my business was still in the startup phase), I wanted to create a different experience this time. I wanted to give myself 3-months of paid leave.
While on maternity leave, I would check in with clients to make sure all of their needs were being taken care of. One of them responded almost immediately and said something to the effect that if they were to hear from me again before my leave was over, they would fire me. They said the team was fantastic, and that there was absolutely nothing to worry about. They said I should relax and enjoy time with my family.
I think this was pretty close to a WOW.
The business has greatly evolved since then, but we have taken these insights and experiences of how to cater to our clients to a whole new level with our new exclusive, unique, flexible program designed with and for our clients, and that powerfully integrates a variety of modalities.
Not just for them personally, but for their businesses, their team, and their Start Team Member. They can even bring their family along to our private destination retreat to create a guilt-free work-fun experience. And they get to decide what kind of special, location-specific gift they wish to receive.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
Yes! With their new-found confidence, clarity, and know-how, our clients went on to move to their dream location after years of fearful contemplations, they went on to purchase their second homes, or even setting the wedding date after years of being afraid of commitment.
Our clients remain in our circles long after our programs/professional engagements have ended. They also come back for more, stay longer, and refer clients to us because of the WOW experience that they had.
Meanwhile, I also consistently make referrals and professional introductions to our clients because I know their work, who is it for, what to expect, and I trust them. In fact, millions of dollars have been created and exchanged through the connections & introductions I have made.
The creation of our Intentional Impact Program — Global Experience is certainly one of those ripple effects, as well.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Human to human. As mentioned before, when we see our customers as humans with each having their story, their dreams, their “why”, we can serve them on a very different level than when we see them simply as numbers or avatars.
2. Invest in yourself and your own development first. Especially for service providers, this is so important. Clients are simply a reflection of our inner state like attracts like. So to truly WOW them, we owe it to ourselves to keep growing and evolving, to find joy, to find fulfillment, to keep our cup full.
3. Set the boundaries. For sustainable success it’s crucial to be clear on who you serve, how, why, who is not a good fit, what are the commitments and expectations. And, it’s ok to say NO. Because the client is not always right. That said, an extra mile goes a long way and, as someone once said, the space is less crowded there.
4. Journey. Marketing, sales, actual service delivery, and post-delivery phase are all parts of the same journey. It’s important to understand that, more often than not, the latter two fall short of the promises made in the first one.
5. It’s the details. I was meeting with a prospect once, and I saw on her social media that she had a little one at home. So I brought a small gift for the child, and she was truly surprised. She became a client.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
Incentives such as hosting special retreats (Selena Soo just did that in Mexico), or gifting them (VIP) tickets to your event always add this special touch, makes a client feel appreciated.
Surprisingly, I had an interesting experience when offering referral fees for our (premium) services the vast majority of our clients and partners have turned them down because they wanted to assure the referrals were made for all the right reasons.
Another powerful way to help clients inspire others to reach out are testimonials, client case studies, even video interviews where the client can share their journey and experiences. That way they gain exposure and visibility for their own business and cause, they get to share the experience of working with you, and the audience gets to see the before-and-after, and how that might help them as well.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
How interesting that you ask this! This whole conversation about the WOW client experience bases on a greater philosophy that fuels our mission, mine as an individual, and the one for our business.
And that is to elevate humanity from the current culture of disconnect; our isolation, artificial solutions, and stress. Helping people to (re)connect to their grace & power of their higher-self then enables them to expand into limitless possibilities, to create and attract new opportunities, and to enjoy more quality time.
See, embracing natural rhythm and awareness not only impacts each individual, it also creates a positive and transformational ripple effect on our families, clients, communities, and uplifts the collective. And this is our contribution to a better tomorrow, for generations to come.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!