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#139: Are You Even Listening to Your Clients?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, September 24, 2009
Updated: Friday, September 25, 2009
We always try to figure out what the next big thing is in consulting by reading journals, going to conferences and keeping up with business news. Where else can we find this information?

Those are surely good places to find out what is happening in business. However, these are only useful in a general way. It is like a sports team trying to develop a strategy for the next game by reviewing historical statistics and instruction manuals on how to play the sport. These are necessary but not sufficient. You still need to listen, harder than usual, to your clients.

We can be seduced into thinking that the information we can glean from clients is restricted to the nature of our engagement. This would include the type of problem a client has, the extent that others in the same industry face the same issues, and the wisdom of our solution to resolve it. But there is more we can learn from our clients, and that means we need to ask. Spend some time with your client discussing issues outside your area of expertise and about problems or solutions that you are not there to solve. You will learn something and the client will possibly develop a better appreciation for your counsel.

Tip: One thing you need to attend to is how much time you spend talking vs. listening. Consumer research reveals that customers think salespeople and advisors talk too much. Remember, your role as a management consultant is not to give the answer, but to use your experience and skills to help the client get to the answer as quickly as possible. A good example of not being in tune with your customer is this YouTube video.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client service  communication  consultant role  customer understanding 

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Comments on this post...

Shangke Wu says...
Posted Friday, September 25, 2009
Who and How should I talk? When the decision on my case is already made by someone else??!! Keep waiting will only make things running out of time, what should I do?
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