The details of a Business Review- Part 1 of 4
They go by a lot of different names; Quarterly Business Reviews, Business Reviews, Leadership Business Review, Executive Business Review, Annual Business Review or my all time favorite, “Semi-Annual Quarterly Business Review.” Whatever you call them, they are a critical component to a long and mutually beneficial relationship between you and your customer.
In our Business Review Best Practices article we talked about some of the things to cover in a Business Review and today we will cover the first of 4 of these items in more detail.
This weeks topic is on the Relationship Health. Like any good relationship, it must be built on open communications with a desire for both parties to continually improve it. My experience in this area is that many people shy away from this topic for fear of what it may uncover.
- What if the customer is not happy with their (name your position here)?
- What if it ends up creating a long list of action items for me?
- What if they just want to “complain”?
- What if they had a problem and ask for a credit?
Like most things, these are fears that tend to be larger in our own head than they are in reality. Sure there are going to be times when you open this door and it swings back hard and hits you. But, wouldn’t you prefer that over not having known there were things that needed to be done to improve the relationship.
A business relationship isn’t all that different than the relationships we have in our personal lives. What do you want from your significant other, and what do they expect of you? There are some fairly simple things that personal relationship experts agree on as important.
- Be appreciative and show, say or demonstrate it in actions rather than just words.
- Don’t take the other for granted.
- When there is disagreement, do it respectfully and look for common ground rather than negativity.
- You can’t be everything to each other, recognize what you are and stay true to that.
- Find ways to meet each other’s needs, focus on the mutual benefits of the relationship.
- Be in it for the long haul, there is not immediate gratification and focusing on such ends up being shortsighted.
Why Customers Leave
A lot of these can be tied directly to business as well. Ken Dooley from the Sales and Marketing Business Brief listed the top 5 reasons clients leave. The list is really telling and relationship can make all the difference in the world.
- 1% pass away
- 3% move
- 14% are lured by a competitor
- 14% are turned away by product or service dissatisfaction
- 68% leave because of poor attitude or indifference on the part of the service provider.
68% of the customers that you lose, do so because of indifference or attitude. Most people reading this likely work for a fairly large organization and there may be times when your customers encounter a bad attitude. People are people and we have all had a bad day. But, if you had a strong relationship with your client, one built on mutual trust where your customers were free to raise these concerns in a safe environment, wouldn’t that be great. I have a personal example of this recently.
My wife and I have been working with a company to get some work done. It is not a large company and we are working directly with the owner to quote the work and prepare for the job to begin. We had a question about it and my wife called the office and was hung up on. She thought maybe her call had dropped so called again and was hung up on as soon as she started speaking. She emailed the owner and the office person with a simple and polite note that said, “I attempted to call a few times today to discuss our project, however, I seemed to have been disconnected. Please have NAME call me when he gets a few minutes.” Within minutes my wife received a call from an embarrassed and apologetic office worker who admitted that she hung up on her twice. She had been getting a bunch of telemarketing calls and thought that is what it was so was just picking up the phone and hanging it up. Now if this was my first experience with this company, I may have gone on to find another one. But because we had a relationship with them and trusted their work and people, I can forgive the bad moments in peoples lives knowing it is not the norm.
Relationship Tracking and Trending
You, as a CSM can do the same for your customer. The question becomes, how do you track this relationship, and on what dimensions should you gauge their satisfaction with it? Part of that depends on the product or service your company has and your role specifically. Assuming a customer in an “as a Service” type business, there are a few good starting points for this relationship and scoring of their overall satisfaction with the relationship with your company.
The key relationship items to measure and trend over time are Partnership, Attentivness, Value, Experience or Skill of resources, and Willingness to Recommend.
There are a lot of sophisticated ways of tracking Customer Health, Relationships, etc such as Customer Satisfaction, Employee Satisfaction, Engagement Measurements, and Net Promoter. They all have their value and place and this is not a judgment on any of them, but I want to encourage anyone that doesn’t already have something like this in place, to still get started.
The vehicle doesn’t have to be all that sophisticated to still get you to the destination.
A simple numeric score with some definitions for each number and some categories via a free online tool like SurveyMonkey or a PowerPoint Graph or Excel spreadsheet all work as a way to capture this valuable information. I am in favor of simplicity in these examples. If your company already has a metric that they use as ‘gospel’ for relationships or customer satisfaction, adopt that. If they don’t, by all means, there should be nothing stopping you from getting started right away with something simple.
Tip: Be sure to define what each numeric score means so that over time as your customer contacts change, you are less likely to experience a different definition of each numeric score. For example, some people will just never give a 5 out of 5, assuming there is always room for improvement. In order to define what a 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 is, take some time to define them.
Click here to download a relationship scoring worksheet that you can use. Modify the description of the scores to be relevant to your specific business. To use the sheet, download it and save a copy for each customer you are tracking the relationship for. Start on the “Data Entry” tab. Change the categories in the orange cells if it makes sense based on your business. In the “scoring definitions” section change the definitions of each score based on what makes sense for your business. Now each time you speak to your client about the relationship, you can change the date of survey data in column B. Example change “Year 1 – Quarter 1” to “Dec 2017.” Choose the drop-down score for each attribute and the charts on the “Results” page will automatically update. They will show a trend, as well as a breakout of the individual attribute as well. These can be pasted into the material you present at each Business Review with the client.
Now that you have this great data on the customer’s perception of your relationship, you must act upon it. Talk to your customer about ways to improve it and then put plans in place to move the needle in the right direction. As you track this on a periodic basis, you will see if the plans put in place are having the desired impact. Getting the information is only part of the relationship journey, demonstrating your desire to improve it is where the difference will be made.
Below are some resources on Customer Success and Relationship building in Business that you may find interesting.
- Customer Experience 3.0 by John A Goodman
- Customer Success by Nick Mehta and Dan Steinman
- Farm Don’t Hunt by Guy Nirpaz and Fernando Pizarro
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