Sometimes, when you think you are in a conversation with your client, the truth is, you aren’t. We often ask our clients, “When did you last talk to your stakeholders other than a project engagement or a sales conversation – just common business-as-usual conversations?” The answer is, it seldom happens.
Get your Clients’ Feedback
Each and every company needs a mechanism to talk to its key stakeholders on a regular basis. They also need to have a communication channel where clients can be brutally honest. There are times when no one wants to be on the receiving end of complete honesty. Yet, such openness is where the opportunity sits for your business to grow.
We regularly have stakeholder engagement surveys operating in the field on behalf of our clients. Independent and impartial conversations are the best way of finding out what is really going on in your perceived relationships. Our good clients let us have a conversation with their clients in order for us to check out whether what they’re telling us about their business is true.
Our process is to ask you to benchmark yourself, and then we ask your client to benchmark you. We are looking for the key drivers and performance gaps in attitudinal behaviours. It is these gaps that will create opportunities for our clients.
For instance, we recently asked in a benchmark survey, “If our client came to you with new products/services, would you buy from them?” We listed a variety of products/services that our client could offer, above and beyond their core product/service, and the respondents gave an overwhelming ‘yes’ – on the condition that this did not distract from the delivery of their main product/service on which their business relies on. We are now busy looking at a product/service launch strategy for our clients that could elevate their revenues by who knows how much.
We have also been working with another client who has possibly had the most glowing feedback in terms of how they deliver to their partners that we have ever heard of – the problem they have is, if you have never worked with them, it is likely that you will never have heard of them. What is the solution? This business partner needs to build integrated marketing channels.
Their partners said that they like hearing their stories – samples of their work and how they achieve the outcome they have produced. They told us that, “We are not sales people, we don’t like to bother people.” We told them, “Your clients WANT to see and hear more from you – with interesting stories of how you overcome complex and challenging projects.”
Engaging with your stakeholders means you value their feedback – in the main, their intent is to help you serve them better. If you ask the right questions they will tell you where you can improve; they will tell you what is important to them and even how much better it needs to be so you can invest in ‘being better’, at the appropriate level.
There is no need for investment or huge, innovative changes if all they want you to do is return a call within 60 minutes. On the other hand, you could put light-years between you and your competitors if you innovate in your market and own the position of the leader. Your stakeholders are the benchmark of what’s going on out there.
This can be a harsh reality check – yet it can also take your stakeholders’ engagement to a whole new level. There is one ‘buyer beware’ – do the work and ignore the results at your own peril!