7 Things You Can Learn by Talking to Your Clients
Conversation may be a dying form, but it’s how good business opportunities are found and developed. There is so much your team can learn from a good conversation with a client!
Apart from the critical person to person connection that is so often missing in transactional exchanges, what else might happen if your customer facing employees took the time to really talk to your clients?
1. Discover what motivates and interests your client as an individual.
2. Learn what your client’s organization wants to achieve now and in the future.
3. Get feedback on your work and how you’re managing the relationship.
4. Uncover new opportunities for your agency to help your client.
5. Hear about industry-wide challenges first-hand. (More potential opportunities?)
6. Take the temperature of future initiatives for you and your client (and your industries).
7. Generate big ideas together.
Let’s unpack those a little further.
1. WHO is Your Client?
Making purposeful connections and really getting to know clients as individuals makes good business sense; your employee may discover that they both enjoy water skiing. What a great point of connection!
Not only do they now have something common to talk about, but according to Celeste Headlee, journalist and media personality, your employee will have become more believable, trustworthy and likeable. Who do you think this client will call the next time they have a project, whether they are certain your company can do it or not?
2. WHAT Does Your Client Want to Achieve?
How often does your client facing team truly understand what your clients are trying to achieve on a bigger scale?
Of course they know that the current project outcomes include an attributable 10% rise in sales and recognition in the national trade press, but what about the next five years? Ten years? What is your client’s company vision?
Account teams tend to be focused on the project they are working on right now, but when they are able to put those outcomes into the context of the client CEO’s vision, they may see all sorts of potential ways your agency can help your client achieve those goals.
3. HOW are You Doing?
Your agency may or may not have a formal feedback and review process. If you don’t, it’s a good idea to do some follow up at the conclusion of a project. If nothing else, this is a great opportunity to ask for a referral, but for most of us, it’s really an opportunity to learn how we might improve our service. We want to be able to delight our clients. More on that in this post.
4. WHEN Can you Next Work Together?
When your team really talks to your clients about what’s going on in their businesses and learns what they’re working towards, opportunities for your agency to assist will present themselves on a platter.
There may be services you provide that your clients don’t know about or don’t think you are capable of handling, but by actively working on the client relationship and having these regular sorts of ‘real’ conversations, your team will be much better placed to spot opportunities and act upon them.
If your client doesn’t know that you have an in-house production team but indicates in a conversation that they want to produce a short film, here’s your opportunity!
5. WHAT is Happening?
Everyone is affected by the talent shortage in the current economic climate, but what else is happening in your clients’ industry sectors?
When your client facing employees have conversations with your customers they’ll be able to hear first hand what challenges most concern your clients and where they think they’ll need to adapt. Your front-line team acts like an inexpensive research arm, uncovering issues and reporting them back to HQ so YOU can develop new services to assist your clients.
6. INVESTIGATE Possibilities
Your agency may be considering offering new services or technologies and no one wants costly mistakes in roll out. Conversations with clients allow you to ‘test’ new ideas with your target market at no cost. And what client wouldn’t feel privileged to be included as a key part of your research and development? Yet another way to deepen the client relationship.
7. CREATE Together
From great conversations come great ideas. In the course of a wide-ranging conversation with a client, a whole lot of new ideas could be generated. Why not encourage that? You already know that creativity happens everywhere.
What client wouldn’t like to feel like they are part of something bigger than simply doing business with you?
When the focus is on billable hours and your client-facing team is already time-crunched it can seem nonsensical to encourage them to just talk to clients. But when your front-line teams are encouraged to have conversations with clients that have nothing to do with executing work it’s amazing what you can learn.
What can you do with that knowledge?