To create mutually satisfying and long-lasting relationships, brands must put their clients first. This means taking deliberate steps to understand their needs and then organise the business from top to bottom to satisfy them:
Understand, then implement
- Articulate your value proposition. A company needs critical mass to operate efficiently but scaling the business must be undertaken intelligently. Simply growing for the sake of a larger footprint is a sure-fire way to reduce competitive edge and create unwelcome distraction from more important issues. Size does not win loyalty. Well thought out value propositions that consistently anticipate and meet client needs do.
- Keep your promises. A coaching culture that encourages staff to own the purpose of their work and take responsibility for client outcomes is a good start. Support growth mind-sets with challenging work, relevant training and timely feedback. Celebrate effort and encourage resilience. This will unleash innovation, instill a sense of pride in the work and build commitment to keep promises.
- Seamless team-work. This is vital to a healthy client relationship. The most successful teams are aligned, trained and motivated to work to a common end. This isn't easy nor can it be left to chance. Leaders must work hard to be approachable and keep listening as the larger a business gets, the more challenging it is to see what is happening on the ground.
- Be consistent. A study by McKinsey & Company has found that a consistent client experience across the entire client journey will increase client satisfaction, create trust and encourage loyalty. This client journey encompasses every touch point in dealing with your brand. Consistency is under the microscope from the first inquiry to the process of making a purchase to being on-boarded and treatment as a client. This includes how any problems or issues are dealt with.
- Be relevant. Nothing irritates more than being sent content that is not relevant and therefore has little value to the client. It wastes their time, undermines goodwill and gets in the way of genuinely useful communication as clients become accustomed to pressing 'delete' before reading further than the headline.
- Say 'thank you'. Technology, outsourcing and smarter working practices can create efficiency in the business and are sensible to pursue. Yet these can not be at the expense of the client relationship. The client service experience must be enhanced otherwise the benefit will be viewed as purely one-sided. Focus on the tangible benefits to clients and articulate these to avoid this trap. Say 'thank you' for their business. It will be appreciated.
- Engage with them. Undertaking a client survey is just the first step. By all means use the results for your internal reporting, budget pitches and to validate your KPIs. Yet remember the purpose is to seek improvements that have appeal and value to clients which in turn will enable the business to grow. What one thing has changed for the better that clients would have noticed since your last survey? After all nobody enjoys being in a relationship with someone who thinks only of themselves.
Beverly Landais is an accredited executive coach and trained facilitator. She comes to coaching from a senior business background. Her sector expertise spans legal, financial and insurance services. Her leadership style, people management and marketing skills have been honed over 30 years of working in the City of London. Beverly has solid board-level experience through serving as a trustee of the Chartered Management Institute and chairing their External Affairs and Insight Committee.
Beverly's website can be found at www.beverlylandais.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @beverlylandais