Although you might think clients always give feedback and always share a problem, this is not the case. If you want to listen to your clients you are going to need to come up with a process -- a process in which you ask. If you wait for them to give you feedback you will never receive more than a small fraction. When you listen to your clients, you know if they are happy with the quality of the services you currently provide. But do you know why? Do you know what you are doing right?
If you listen to your clients, you also have a good idea how things are going in their businesses. But how much detail do you really know? Do you know enough about their needs to be developing products and or services to meet their needs? Do you know enough about their industry to be of real help to them?
Do you know about emerging events or trends that could create challenges or risks for their business? What have you done about it and what have you done to communicate to the information and your actions to them?
Listening to your clients and using that information to provide services or products that meet their needs is a clear demonstration that you know their business, you know your clients, and you respond to the needs of your clients. And that is a market differentiator!
A market differentiator is something that sets you and your business apart from your competitors or makes you stand above the crowd in a vital way. Differentiators are a strong element of client choices of the people who provide services or products to them. In fact, this is a critical factor for professional services firms.
If you are good at listening to your clients and acting on what you learn from them, you can market that fact as a client attraction magnet. Everyone wants to be heard. Try these steps:
Develop a consistent way of gathering information from your clients. You can use email, surveys, questionnaires, mobile phone, or whatever makes the most sense for your clients.
Consistently thank clients for providing feedback and information.
Ask more than whether they are satisfied with your services. Ask what challenges they are facing. Ask what additional resources they need for their businesses to thrive.
Develop a process for following up on the feedback and information you receive – every time. At the very least thank your clients for taking the time to respond. Then tell them how you will respond to their needs and when they can expect to hear more from you about how you can meet their needs.
Deliver on your promise – efficiently, effectively and consistently.
Finally, make your client responsiveness part of your marketing message.
Actively listening to your clients and acting on what you hear will build client loyalty, increase the likelihood of them referring friends, family members and colleagues to you, and give you a way to differentiate yourself in your local market as the firm that listens and responds.