We assume we know what our clients want, but how do we know if we don’t ever ask the question? As an industry we need to get better at listening
With a fresh year upon us it is time to get re-energised and enthused, asking the question: “How can we impress our clients even more this year?”
In a market that is rather busy, and somewhat stretched, impressing clients and going the extra mile becomes even more of a challenge. That said, many consultancies and contractor organisations employ people whose full time role is to promote innovation and come up with new ways of working which is considered to be continuous improvement (often associated with a new acronym!).
The point is that we often think we know the answers to those questions but we rarely ask them, which means we actually don’t know, for sure
When these new thoughts genuinely constitute better ways of doing things, then great - why wouldn’t one implement such ideas? But when new ideas actually represent old ideas, but with a new name and different coloured dashboard, then I’m not sure it adds much other than provide a refresh.
The starting point has to be to ask clients “What would you like to see more of?”, and similarly “What would you not miss?”. In short, what is it that your client really values and what makes them extraordinarily happy?
The point is that we often think we know the answers to those questions but we rarely ask them, which means we actually don’t know, for sure. And if we don’t ask those questions on a regular basis, then there is an assumption that client requirements and what is really appreciated and valued never changes. Is that really the case?
What’s even more interesting is that your client may struggle to immediately answer your question around what they really do value, which serves an even greater purpose in causing them to reflect and articulate what they really want from you in the first place.
The value of regular client conversation is huge, as is asking good questions. But in these client conversations let’s remember that God gave us two ears and one tongue for a reason - so best we listen!
Iain Parker is a founding partner of Alinea Consulting