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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Are you delivering the "branded experience"?

This chart from Mel Lester's E-Quip blog suggests that loyal clients occur when their experience is consistent, intentional, differentiated and valuable. How do you get there?

Mel Lester in his E-Quip blog clarifies and elaborates on the challenges and responsibilities of businesses to create a positive "branded experience". He writes:
What is the branded experience? The most helpful definition I've found comes from the Forum Corporation. They describe the branded experience as one characterized by four basic qualities: (1) consistent, (2) intentional, (3) differentiated, and (4) valued. Notice that the first two characteristics are dependent on the provider; the second two are discerned by the customer. The branded experience involves a partnership of a sort between the two parties.
Few AEC firms get this right, Lester suggests, especially in seeking and understanding client feedback. Lester suggests that many people in the business think they are doing things right, but their clients don't agree. I haven't got a great answer yet to the client feedback question, at least for AEC and professional service businesses. Retailers and mass market organizations can use some rather easy-to-co-ordinate and manage online survey tools, which simply don't work (or attract enough natural response) for professional or lower volume/higher sales value businesses. Third party telephone surveys, or client feedback calls, certainly can be used, but these I find are often irritating and forced. But maybe these work, and are necessary regardless. The issue here could be similar to my former attitude regarding regular weekly meetings and annual planning sessions and retreats. I used to think these were a waste of time and money. No more. They are mandatory parts of our business systems, now.

2 comments:

Mel Lester said...

Hey Mark,

The article "Soliciting Client Feedback" outlines a basic strategy that I've used with success over the years. You can read it at the following link:

(www.bizedge.biz/client_feedback.htm)

An important step in getting good feedback is to get the client's buy-in at the outset of the project. I advocate a "service benchmarking" meeting where client expectations for the working relationship are uncovered and mutual responsibilities are outlined. One goal of that meeting is defining how feedback from the client will be obtained (means and frequencies). I document what we agree on and send it to the client for confirmation.

When I've pursued client feedback proactively, I've had few problems getting it. It may take some persistence at times, but remember, the client already agreed to help. So I've not had a situation where the client seemed irritated or otherwise uncomfortable in responding to my inquiry.

Hope this helps.

Mel Lester
www.blog-bizedge.biz

Mark Buckshon said...

Mel, yes, a great solution -- you are right that in inviting the client to discuss and agree on feedback mechanisms early in the project, the follow up will be much easier. Brilliant!