by: Anne Haynes
I work at one of the very “few” small to medium size organizations where the company promotes continual growth and learning.
In todayâ€™s monthly management meeting we reviewed the highlights of the book Creating Customer Evangelists.
One of the six tenets from the book Creating Customer Evangelists is Customer Delta: create regular and systematic customer feedback. As a group we talked about challenging clients and the importance of being truthful in communication and requesting client feedback.
The very first client that came to my mind was a non-profit client when I worked at a software company focused in the providing website solutions for non-profits
It was my first day at the company and my new boss approached me and requested assistance with a specific client because the company was understaffed at the time. Being my first day and the type of person I am, I stepped up for the challenge. Within a couple of hours I found myself with the CEO and senior account executive on an onsite client visit. The three men had polite conversation and the client mentioned 30-60-90. Because the firm’s software has over 500 turn-on features and modules, I kept listening to the conversation and took notes.
The meeting ended and on my way out of the organization I was introduced to the system administrator, database administrator and several business owners.
In the car on the way back to the office I found out that 30-60-90 was not a module created to help non-profits build web sites, but an ultimatum to the my new employer to get their act together. I was now the project manager for this non-profit and for the next 4 months I met with the client and listened to complaints and needs for 3 hours a week. I took great notes and created an issues list, which at its peek, reached 135 rows in excel. But I listened and I sought to understand instead of being understood. The client appreciated my listening skills, issues tracking and quick resolutions. The turning point was during a weekly meeting discussing issue number 27. In the meeting we were reviewing the class schedules and investigating why registered students were showing up to canceled classes. I asked the client to walk me through the business processes for class registration. As the business owners within the meeting spoke regarding the day-to-day processes, I translated the processes onto a whiteboard. Through listening and breaking down several processes spanning from how to update the web site to a student attending a class, it became clear that the true issue was not with the firm’s software product, but within the non-profitâ€™s business processes. The organization needed a true product owner.
After this meeting my relationship with the client changed from listening to consulting.
Today, July 23, 2007 this client is still with my previous employer and is using the content management and customer relationship management system to manage emails, newsletters, donations, class registrations and an ecommerce store. Iâ€™m very proud of this experience in my career and the endorsement I received from the non-profit’s database administrator.
Through listening to clients the feedback comes out and itâ€™s embedded in everyday conversations. Building relationships with clients based on listening and resolving issues creates Customer Evangelists.
Do you have an experience in turning a client into an evangelist?