Client listening is neither a distraction nor an imposition. In our experience business owners, directors, in-house solicitors, GCs, FDs and Chief Execs are only too willing to share what they think of their solicitors, accountants, patent attorneys and architects when we ask them to participate in our clients’ research programmes.
There are, however, a number of common themes that keep cropping up in these interviews, insight every professional service firm would do well to learn from!
1. You need to do more than just deliver what you’ve been asked for
Every client not only wants but expects added value extras like a willingness to share your professional network, for you to be accessible outside office hours and occasionally willing to provide advice ‘off the clock’.
2. You need to demonstrate you understand both the clients’ business and the sector in which they operate
This means reading the relevant trade press, knowing the key issues your clients are facing (or, better still, are about to face) and using the language and reference points they’re used to.
3. You need to present solutions to the clients’ problems (from a commercial perspective)
I have never met a client who enthuses about legal precedents, regulatory matters and award events … just clients who want simple, straightforward answers that’ll help them deliver their goals.
4. You need to understand the bigger picture
What are the client’s goals? What is their vision for their business? And never make assumptions – work hard so you really do understand!
5. You need a personal connection
Personal chemistry matters; getting on with people helps to build trust and it makes difficult conversations much easier to have.