creative management consultants - london




Listen to your clients (and others…)

Do you and all your contact team really know what your clients, co-consultants, contractors and others are wanting from you and how they experience working with you? What truly delights them? What seriously frustrates them?

Our clients often tell us that they know what the people they work with think. But usually they appreciate only part of the story. Invariably their eyes light up when we feed back insights about what their clients and others are actually looking for, what they really value, how their attitudes may be shifting, how they might perceive a practice in comparison to its competitors, and their perspectives on what it's like working with them .

The challenge facing professional service firms is ensuring that the quality of experience is delivered consistently, from beginning to end, by all the team - and that some form of enthusiasm is generated and continually maintained about working with you. This is particularly the case with firms offering strong service and looking for high levels of repeat commission. Here it is vital to know what is working well and where things may be failing. What may seem relatively minor issues - billing processes, speed of responsiveness, perceived lack of reciprocity, and so forth - can soon become sources of significant irritation. Sometimes the very growth that initially resulted from exceptional levels of service causes that service quality to be unsustainable. Systematically listening to your clients provides a check that you are still on track - and in the process often provides an opportunity for any negative issues to be dealt with before they become critical.

How best to listen? Regular open and frank conversations are vital. Some firms also use web based questionnaires - but we find them useful only up to a point. What we have consistently found to be extremely effectively are semi-structured telephone based interviews undertaken by a third party, with the results fed back to the client team via a report comprising grouped non-attributed verbatim quotes. Highlighting both what firm does well and where there is scope for improvement, as well as being able to focus on other key issues, such feedback from clients and others can provide a powerful way of focussing your marketing messages and getting your team to buy into the process of addressing some critical issues that are less than positive.

Listening to clients also makes good marketing sense. Undertaking an exercise to hear what others with whom you work have to say gives a message that you care about what they think. It also gives you a genuine reason to make contact with people you may not have spoken to recently.

Listening is an activity that we can easily become complacent about. Our attention really kicks in when we hear something unexpected, dangerous or wonderful. In most cases what comes out of the client research process is a mix of messages that are surprising, disconcerting, reassuring and very useful.