What really makes a difference, though, is whether or not you listen for voiced, potentially strategic opportunities.
On the other hand, do you have a short attention span when working with clients?
If so, you listen to clients for the sole purpose of achieving tactical closure on the conversation. Client care becomes just another item on your daily To-Do list, instead of a strategic imperative.
Where do you fit into the client talk scenario? How continuously engaged are you with customers?
Developing client talk capabilities leads to innovations enhancing customer experience and retention. So, we are not talking about idle chit-chat here. A solid strategy, and a specific methodology, are involved.
Do you take the time for client talk with internal co-workers?
Walk a contract through the workplace. There are a lot of people – your internal clients – touching that contract. First of all, who do you work with each day? Next, what is the breadth and depth of your level of engagement with them? Then, describe your level of interest in, and knowledge of, “what they do.”
Then again, additional internal clients work with you as-needed, usually if there is a mess-up. Also, other colleagues make the stuff that is sold because still other colleagues order raw materials to mold products as well as assemble finished components. Finally, there are the folks who get the finished product out the door or provide post-sale implementation and technical field service support.
Do you know who each one of these internal customers is? Should you?
Each internal colleague represents an ongoing opportunity for client talk.
Consider that each internal colleague, and their functional department, “touches” a client contract in a specific manner. If you want to know how to accelerate getting things done, on behalf of external clients, get to know your internal colleagues and “what they do.”
More importantly, if you want to capture and understand the customer’s voice, start asking internal colleagues what they hear when speaking with client-side end-users.
Client talk creates better and better conversations with external customers.
Far too many organizations react to “what’s happening” rather than developing a proactive “what’s next” approach with external clients.
In most organizations, pre-sales activities remain segregated from post-sale ones. As a result, often-anecdotal information, documented in CRMs, becomes skewed towards pre-sale activities, rather than creating a positive post-sale environment at the same time.
For starters, client talk separates internal colleague fantasy from external customer reality.
Comparing “what you heard” from internal colleagues with “what was reported” in CRMs, as well as “what was documented” during project management, often represents three different scenarios. Then, add a fourth: “what the client experienced.”
Is the Voice of the Customer a big surprise to internal teams? It shouldn’t be.
The more you engage in these comparative internal conversations, the more engaged you become when speaking with external customers.
- First, you begin to hear voiced customer needs expressed on a regular basis, from different clients.
- Then, voiced customer needs are translated into design specifications representing product and process improvement as well as new product development opportunities.
- Also, the more engaged customers become in co-creating improvements and upgrades, the more you both are co-invested in future business outcomes.
Over time, client talk delivers on customer expectations of better and better experiences.
No matter what you sell, make, service or finance, today’s customers expect better and better performance outcomes, over time. Nothing is static or disconnected when it comes to client acquisition and retention. As a result, developing a network of engaged internal and external colleagues creates a critical pathway to company growth, expansion and sustainability.
After all, the information you share across organizations not only is related to a specific project or client. After a while, you weigh in on industry trends impacting the future of both your companies. At that interface, customer retention magic happens. Everyone gets a whole lot smarter. Also, company culture organically becomes more collaborative. That scenario is a win-win on so many levels.
What would it take to put this strategy into play in your company tomorrow? Click on the link, send me your ideas, and let’s get started co-creating a client talk strategy.
Babette Ten Haken is a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker. She serves organizations as a strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer success for customer retention. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Image author: Panumas. Contact Babette here. Image source: Fotolia.