Trusted Customer Relationships

Every once in a while, you come across content that does the job of putting across your point better than you yourself. Since I discovered David Maister’s web site, I have been finding a lot of content that I so easily relate to. And I will let his content do the talking.

Following are excerpts about DM’s views on building trusted customer
relationships –

  • Decide upfront on how you want to be marketing – a series of transactions (one night stands) or a relationship based long term engagement
  • DM brings in the comparison of an expert & advisor. Most people want to take charge (& be experts) rather than an advisor. Both works. Both are different. Just do not pretend to be what you are not!

A comparion between transactional & relation based engagement –

  • Scaleable, can be codified & disseminated easily across the organization vs Interpersonal skills of relationship building based …are difficult to spread
  • Appealing to those who find comfort the rational, logical or analytical vs Few are prepared for the psychological complexities involved
  • Thinking of other person as THEM vs US
  • You are OPPONENTS vs COLLABORATORS on the same side
  • All you are worried about is ..Short term benefits vs Long term benefits
  • There is lot of suspicion vs You are building trust
  • Goal is to make yourself look attractive vs understand the other party
  • Negotiate & bargain vs You give & you are helpful
  • Preserve options & avoid obligations vs You make commitments
  • Focus on here & now ..present vs Future
  • Develop detailed contracts vs Comfy with ambiguous understanding of future reciprocity
  • Main goal is to WIN vs PRESERVE RELATIONS..there are lots of benefits in the future
  • Style is impersonal & detached vs Personal, engaged & even intimate
  • Preparational & rehearsal of what you will say & do vs Adaptable & flexible to responses of other person
  • You listen to the other person vs You listen what they are feeling & why they are saying it
  • Feeling is tense & animated vs Relaxed & comfy
  • Interactive style is defensive & protective the bargain vs Open & inquisitive
  • Exaggeration, misrepresentation & even manufactured appearance is common & many times expected …not really lying, but not completely true either vs Complete integration is required ..exaggeration & misrepresentation is absolutely required

Customer Service in Professional Services

I have come across very little documentation regarding customer service in the professional services sector – IT services, law firms, hospitals, audit firms, business consulting, etc.

Some characteristics of these sectors that might set the sector apart in this respect –
  • driven primarily by knowledge workers
  • services delivered are complex & highly customized

Having taken on the responsibility of the customer centricity program in my IT services organization, you should be seeing more information on this subject here. Watch this space.