One of the important attributes of an effective consultant or service provider is the importance of communicating with your clients. Regular interaction, ensuring you provide value for money and a focus on keeping clients up to date with their projects that you are working on with them.
Given its importance, why do so many of us feel challenged by talking to our clients? Rather than speaking face to face or via the phone, they prefer email for expediency, or worse focussing on tasks, pleasantries and other activities that don’t get to the core of connecting with our clients? It is an affliction that has grown within a society that is busy with other distractions such as email, everything needing to be done straight away and our focus on getting more done in less time.
As someone wise remarked to me recently, we are so busy with delivering on an action we forget that we need to take our clients along for the journey to deliver both an experience and an outcome. This can take the form of regular check ins with our clients, not booking back to back meetings so we need to rush and spending time really getting to understand their problems and challenges before we assume they need the same solutions as our last client who asked for similar work.
Other connection points may be inviting a client along to a breakfast, having a social lunch to enjoy each others company rather than being driven predominately by the delivery of a task. It could mean ringing them once a week to see how they are going not what they may be able to help you with. It could be sending on a relevant article or thought leadership paper because you listened well last time they spoke and have identified something that could solve a problem for them. These are all great ways to build a strong relationship over time.
To move from communicating to connecting is the goal of every service provider. You move to trusted advisor status with your client, you go deep with them rather than wide and truly are able to deliver outstanding value through being able to demonstrate a deep and intimate knowledge of them, their business and their challenges.
The benefit is not only for your clients. You move to that rarefied air of being not only a consultant but seen as an extension of their management team. You connect in a way that is fearless, frank and both parties knowing you have their best interests at heart.
Connecting like this can only occur by going deep rather than wide. Like most relationships, it is the only way to live!