There’s been considerable coverage over recent days about the disgruntled Goldman Sachs employee who has caused a media storm regarding how he allegedly believes the firm treats its clients. There are some lessons to be learned here for all of us in the client relationship business that go way beyond Goldman Sachs and the investment banking business.
Ask most clients why they appoint professional or marketing services firms and you can almost guarantee a key factor will be the fact that they are felt to understand the clients business. However, it can be difficult to get closer to the client to gain this understanding, especially when access is restricted.
A well-known Agency Business principle: Clients are won on creativity and lost on service. Right. But this “poor service” concept has many dimensions and degrees of seriousness. Let me describe the absolute sin, the most effective way to lose a client.
Every year we make lists of the same old tired New Year business resolutions. This year resolve to keep it simple. Determine the few, most effective ways you can your improve client relationship management and make a measurable difference to the business.
Service providers used to entertain their client lavishly at this time of year. Now many service providers have decided to rein in the entertaining because of a lethal combination of the financial crisis, time pressures and the uncertainty created by bribery legislation.
The recession has put huge downward pressure on pricing. While the temptation might be to lower prices for clients, it’s also dangerous. Getting it right is all about how you organise and position yourself. If you get this wrong you can undermine your firm’s hard-earned reputation.
Trust is the foundation of strong business relationships and pays off in both tangible and intangible ways. It is hard to earn but easy to lose. Trust has to permeate every aspect of an organisation’s behaviour and actions, from staff interactions to honest dealings with clients.
Tim Coulton discusses a number of ways to deal with a client that does not like a piece of work. He explains that ultimately your are faced with three options: adjust the creative to gain client acceptance, do new creative work; which can be costly or push back hard to the client and at worse risk losing the business and at the very least upset them.
Service providers have to put themselves’ in their clients’ shoes to build strong relationships. This goes beyond a superficial understanding of their business. It means learning their internal language and jargon as well as adjusting to their culture and the way they view the world.
Today is the day we make an extra special effort with our loved-ones; maybe we should do the same with our business relationships. In case you hadn’t noticed, today is Valentine’s Day, that time of the year when we try to show how much a special personal relationship means to us. But while we ploughed through our groaning mailboxes this morning, how many of us considered our business relationships, especially our clients or customers?
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