After years and months of preparation, anticipation and planning, Super Bowl XLVII will be remembered for the 34-minute blackout. More than the always-memorable ads, paying $3.8 million per 30-second spot, the halftime show or the game itself, the “unfortunate moment” was what will be remembered.
Equipment at the venue, feeds into the Superdome … whatever the cause, one thing is for sure: someone dropped the ball in a big way and few want to take responsibility.
What do you do when your company has experienced an issue that will affect your relationship with a client? Here are a few things to consider:
>> Formulate a Gameplan: As soon as an issue seems to have emerged, it is critical that all involved work together to fully discover what went wrong. After the core of the issue is discovered, your team should always set the goal to be the first to suggest proposed solutions. The client will appreciate the issue being addressed with energy and a sincere desire to fix it. If the issue at hand it not the fault of your firm, you still might have more knowledge in the area of the problem to provide experience and counsel to assist them in correcting the issue.
>> Client Perception Surveys: While the blackout analogy above was seen worldwide, many small issues are made bigger with lack of communication. If you have a structured program to survey your clients and trade partners on a frequent basis, issues can become non issues. The hidden benefit to this regular communication is that you also have an opportunity to discover what your team’s strengths are, as perceived by your client — now you know the actions they value most and you can market around those. Finally, you can track trends from one project to the next as you discover trends in the feedback received.
>> Take Responsibility: There might not be anything more destructive to a client relationship than excuses and blaming as a response to a situation that has occurred. As is the case in most issues, there is blame and responsibility to go around. Approaching an issue with culpability and a proactive attitude to correct the situation and move on does wonders for client retention.
>> Improve Communication: Giving your staff the authority to correct situations immediately, without long delays and belabored discussion, has tremendous impact in building confidence with your client. They will remember the way issues were addressed and the level of urgency given to situations. A good rule of thumb is to match your client’s level of urgency to correct an error or miscommunication.
>> Finding Common Ground: None of these tips are intended to suggest that you need to be “walked on” by the client. Even if you know your firm is not to blame, challenge yourself and your team to find an area to improve the process, communication or approach going forward to bring a common effort to improve a situation.
>> Keep an Open Dialogue: Statistically, more than 90% of clients who are dissatisfied never tell you why and discontinue the relationship. They will, however, tell others why they left, solicited and unsolicited. If you create and encourage a culture in the relationship of open dialogue, not only are issues addressed earlier, which makes it easier to make a course correction, but they feel a sincere desire from you and your firm to work as a team and succeed in a common goal.
A bad client experience can be a costly, unnecessary marketing disaster and can work against much of the positive marketing efforts you deploy. Addressing a negative head on can build your brand in a powerful way and strengthen client retention.