We all think we know roughly what our clients or customers think of us and invariably it will be mostly good. We think we know because our sales teams talk with them when they order things and our customer service teams talk with them to smooth out any issues. We may run surveys and get feedback on a specific set of questions that are important to us and we email them with updates so our customers know what’s going on for us. We run advertising and other marketing campaigns and communicate with them in a variety of ways. We have lots of touch points so we already think we should know what they think of us. And if there is an issue or if a client has some feedback for us they know they can talk to us or reach out and it can be sorted.
However that’s very often not what happens. Whether a client is happy or unhappy they won’t always tell you, they will tell their friends, or the guy they play golf with, or suppliers, or your other customers and so on. If they’re unhappy they won’t tell you because they don’t want to be sold to by you or they have a good relationship with their account manager and they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. If they’re happy it just may not cross their mind to tell you, or they feel it might compromise their buying position. Still, what they are saying behind your back is a story that’s getting out into the market place, and it’s about your brand. Whether it’s a good or bad story it’s something that you are not in control of. You can’t and don’t want to own all of your brand stories, but you can certainly take steps to influence them in a positive way and to harness the power of all the good ones and deal effectively with the bad ones.
Independent Client Insight Research can help you learn far more about your customers then you ever can through customers having conversations with your sales or services teams, or through your own customer surveys. Having an independent person ask questions on your behalf will unearth lots of useful nuggets and you can truly learn what your client thinks and potentially says behind your back.
The power of the insights not only help you to develop your business processes where their suggestions offer ideas but it can also make sure you are communicating effectively and using the right messages to help your audiences understand you, like you and buy from you. You can use these insights as third party stories about your brand. You can use them right across all of your communication channels; in blogs, in sales presentations, in your social media, at events, exhibitions, your PR, to create engaging video, even on the golf course with other clients.
In our experience clients are more than happy to talk to an independent company about their supplier or partner. They are often impressed that their supplier or partner has engaged an objective third party organisation to speak with them and spend time understanding their perspective. We make sure they know that their opinion is valued and worthy and that your company wants to improve their business which in turn will benefit that client.
Don’t be afraid to find out what your clients are saying about you behind your back because they will have some great ideas for you and some great brand stories to tell about you. And in a world where referrals are the most powerful marketing tool, brand stories will get you talked about.