We have all heard someone say, “I’d like to be a fly on the wall”, in relation to some conversation or another. As business development and sales people, what type of conversations would we want to over hear? I cannot speak for most, but if I had the opportunity, I would love to be in on conversations that my clients and competitors are having about my company.
It seems obvious that we would want to know what our clients are saying about us. This would be a great way to know how they perceive the work we do for them, the fee that we charge them and generally do they feel they are getting what the expect from us. Okay, so wire tapping is illegal, immoral and downright unethical. So what do we do to find out what they are saying? There are a couple of things that we can do to get this information.
We can watch what is being said by our clients and others about us in the social media. It used to be when people had really good things or bad things to say about us they would do so by telling friends and they probably still do this. However, now customers can be counted on to use the new tool, the social media.
We can ask others what they are hearing out of our clients about us. It is possible that we might get some good feed back here, but it is going to be tainted by those who are reporting it to us. A bigger problem here is that most negative conversations that others would hear about us would happen in confidence. Those who hear the information have their filters, and they may not want to divulge the information for ethical reasons.
The best way to get information about how our clients view us is to ask. We all know we are supposed to be doing some type survey as a follow up to services with our client. This brings to mind a couple of really good questions. Are we really doing this on each and every project or with every sale? More importantly, when we are looking at a project with a fairly long duration, should we be waiting until it is over to find out how our client feels about the service they are getting? The answer to the first question is likely; no we are not doing this as often as we should. And no, we probably should not wait until a project is over to ask about our client’s satisfaction. By waiting till the end, we miss the opportunity to make adjustments and save a client relationship in some cases.
So if we are working on a long project, when should we ask? The answer to that question is dependent on the type of project. To set an arbitrary time table, not only may have us asking at the wrong time but we will also create a false sense of accomplishing an important goal. It is best to look at the individual project, find turning points and ask about satisfaction and what could we do better or different. This just takes a little planning and willingness break the project in dependent stages for review purposes. This will help us know where we have fallen short on the last completed stage and make adjustments which will have our clients coming back for more.