Image courtesy of Kinckerbocker/Death to the Stock Photo
Over time I’ve been fortunate to find and work with some amazing people, who have become regular suppliers for my client projects. It’s a sad truth that the amount of people I happily refer is a tiny percentage of the people I have actually worked with – and I think this is the case for a lot of consultants who want the best for their clients.
Three major values I stick to in choosing suppliers to work with my clients are high-quality work, excellent service and relationship building.
Most of us have competition in the market. There are others out there who do what we do – or at least who work in a similar way to achieve similar outcomes. The foundation of a competitive business is one that delivers high-level results – yet it’s surprising how many don’t do that! Superb delivery comes with experience and skill, a little talent and a lot of passion for your work. We’ve all been new at our job – but I believe that rarely can anyone produce work that is up to (or beyond) market standard if they have no experience, skill, or passion. Sometimes it does take more time and practice. But sometimes it’s just a matter of how much you care!
It’s so easy to be better than everyone else in this area, because customer service is generally so poor (at least in the Western Australian context in which I’m writing). The real key is in consistency – to make your customer feel special every time – not just sometimes, when you’re not too busy. This is a real challenge in any successful business where spare time just doesn’t exist. But because I have a strong belief in exceptional customer service being a top priority, I want my clients to be well looked after and clearly communicated with, in a timely and transparent way, when I hand them over to my suppliers.
An extension of excellent service, this to me is about having a genuine interest in the client and their business, and also in building a service relationship where you can help them for a long time to come. It’s truly a win-win – if you are honestly interested in people’s opinions and needs, and want to help them, they will come back to you again and again and refer you to others. I think this is all about keeping it real: let your customers know how else you can help them – if you really feel it will be of help!
Some people believe in recommending or referring people for other reasons – because they’ve referred you and you want to return the favour, or because you both belong to the same networking group – but for me, the only reason I’d want to refer someone is if I know they’ll do a brilliant job.