Clients are your key to growth
With client loyalty increasingly coming under challenge from the wealth of choice available and from stretched budgets, understanding how we can best service our clients is key to growth.
Client Talk was created to change the conversations that firms are having with their clients.
All B2B businesses are built on a network of relationships. In order to create and sustain those relationships you will be regularly speaking to your clients. You will regularly check in with your clients to find out how things are. Some firms will go further and have structured relationship meetings with clients at regular intervals, or at the close of a project, tender or other significant milestone. Others will undertake horizon scanning. All of this is a crucial part of relationship building.
Underpinning all of these conversations is the ability to listen.
What is the advantage of using a third party to ask the questions?
We know that it can often be difficult to ask the hard questions. It might be that the relationship you have is longstanding, and you don’t want to ask about competitors and how you compare. You might feel uncomfortable cross-selling; or finding out why your cross-selling efforts haven’t worked. It might be that you are reluctant to probe into service delivery when you are the one delivering the service. It might just be that your relationship has grown to a point where you feel you are too close to have a formal conversation.
By using an independent person to do your client listening, you can find out answers to the questions you are having difficulty asking. The awkwardness is removed. Clients are more likely to be honest with a third party –perhaps they themselves are feeling reluctant to bring up issues that might be seen to be a personal criticism.
What are the benefits of getting client feedback?
You don't have to hunt far on the internet to find quotes from successful business people who attribute success to listening to their clients. Listening, and truly hearing what is said, removes assumption and can provide multiple benefits.
What makes us different?
We believe listening is an art. It is something that is often taken for granted – it is something that we do every day. It is like walking or breathing. Or is it?
Today, with the rise of coaching, active listening is a concept that is often written about and studied. The basics of good listening appear simple, however they can get overlooked.
Client Talk seeks to change the way that we speak to our clients by turning up the dial on active listening.
Training your listeners
We believe that before any firm embarks on a client listening programme they should teach their listeners to listen. At Client Talk we are making it our mission to teach firms the art of listening well, as we believe the data collected from listening/feedback programmes is enhanced as a result.
We help professionals and client feedback teams gain awareness of their personal listening styles and preferences. Our training draws on psychology and we raise awareness of how others might like to be communicated with, to help drive better outcomes.
Support in gathering feedback
Whilst you might have people internally who can act as independent listeners, you might lack the internal resource needed to cover all of your requirements. Perhaps you want support with a particular client or clients. If that is the case we can support you by conducting client listening on your behalf. All of our client feedback meetings are conducted by accredited coaches.
The act of active listening is one of the core skills that coaches have to master. It is something that is tested when accreditation is sought. It is a skill that coaches work to hone over many years. By harnessing this skill in client listening, we are able to go deeper than a mere tick boxing exercise. We can identify non-verbal signals as well as the verbal. We are able to give our undivided attention to what the client has to say.
As well as being coaches, our client listening experts have experience in the field. Some are qualified solicitors and worked in private practice, others have worked in-house. This experience of the subject matter combined with the skill of listening honed through coaching is what sets us apart.
Five common concerns about getting client feedback
1. Won’t my client just get annoyed at being asked?
Asking clients for feedback demonstrates commitment to the relationship. In our experience what annoys is where feedback is sought, given, but then not acted upon. Good or bad. Our approach to client feedback ensures that you know whether there are points of feedback that require action. We also check in with you at agreed intervals after providing you with the client feedback, to make sure that these actions are front of mind.
2. My client is really hard to get hold of; it is worth approaching them?
Clients often feel flattered that they have been approached for feedback. Of course, it won’t always be the right time to meet. Year end, a big deal, a busy team can all draw on a client’s time bank. We aim to be as flexible as possible and can offer interview slots outside of standard working hours. We are also able to interview clients by telephone. Here we use interviewers who are experienced at listening by phone. This is not our preferred approach, but sometimes it is the only way with a busy client, and some feedback is more important than no feedback.
3. We have all the work we are going to get from them, what’s the point?
It goes without saying that no client relationship should be taken for granted. Client feedback is not the same as consultative selling, even though listening to your clients might present opportunities for developing a closer working relationship, this is not the aim of the interview. These clients usually offer some of the most valuable feedback. If you are their sole provider, what is driving that decision? If you have been identified as having a niche field of expertise, how did you achieve that and is it something you are leveraging?
4. We have a really strong relationship with that client. I speak to them all the time.
Client feedback isn’t about searching for the bad. It can be to understand the client experience in greater depth. It can be to understand what makes a strong relationship and how this can be replicated with others. It is about understanding what your value proposition is and how that is achieved in practice. Often an independent listener can see something that has become so ingrained that it stays out of sight of the professional.
5. They are a new client; I don’t think that now is the time.
New clients offer a valuable perspective on how you are positioning yourselves in the market and the strength of your brand. They will likely have researched your competitors. They may have gone out to tender. Or perhaps they have chosen to use you after a period of courting. It is with new clients where internally it might be too soon to ask some of the questions that an independent can more easily ask. From their perspective, setting out clearly why it is that they chose you is more likely to lead to their expectations being met.
Improve decision making by taking out the guess work
Increase client loyalty by showing that you value the relationship
Identify problems in a relationship before they become terminal
Identify opportunities that will grow your business
Create products and services that your clients want
Improve client experience and with it your relationships
Our team are trained to listen. We can help you gather feedback and insight from your clients, whether that be through client interviews or by teaching your professionals the skills needed to listen more deeply. We are turning up the dial on active listening.