"Thank you very much for the help you have offered. When I first contacted you through email, I was really surprised at how quickly you got back to me. The position you found for me fits me perfectly well, and I like it very much. Throughout the process, you have been so helpful, liaising very professionally and efficiently. Thank again for all you have done."Underground Production Geologist, South Perth
What does your client think of you?
(July 2012)Do you know? Do you care? And, assuming you can give some kind of answer to that question, can you elaborate on that answer?
If you can't answer at all, or if your answer resembles something like "He thinks I'm okay" then take a moment to think about what you stand to gain from that knowledge, and how you can find out.
For starters, you want to ensure that your client thinks something of you full stop. If your client does not know your name, or remember dealing with you, then you do not have a relationship at all.
Next, you want to be sure that you are known to your client, without being notorious. You are aiming more for "Oh yes - John from ABC Recruiting" (cue pleasant smile) than you are for "On no accounts put that idiot John Smith from ABC Recruiting through" (cue angry face).
So, if your client talks to you now and again, and doesn't seem to have any sort of involuntary twitch at the mention of your name, then why do you need to know all about what they think of you?
Simple - so that you can keep doing the good stuff that makes them like you, and stop doing the irritating stuff that puts them off. And there will usually be both.
The most straightforward way to find out what your client thinks is to ask. If possible, do this face to face, and ask what they think of your service so far. Ask an open ended question so that your client talks. And then probe what they have said. "You've mentioned that I call too many times. How many calls is too many? What if I've emailed you about something urgent and you haven't replied? Do you mind me calling then?" Get the specifics.
Then ask what, specifically, your client likes about working with you. Again, probe. Now for the hard question - what do you do that they don't like? Probe here too. And if the client mentions something that cannot be helped, or that you need to do as part of your job, then explain it. Explain why you do it, and then ask again if they are happy for you to do that now that they know why.
Ask what other agencies do that annoys them, and what other agencies do that they like. This tells you what to avoid, and what to aim for. Ask what they would like you to do differently.
Don't take it personally. This is all information gathering so that you can improve your relationship with that client.
Some agencies send out customer satisfaction surveys. If that's appropriate for your industry then you could consider it, although I would add that many companies find them time consuming and results can be inconclusive without proper feedback.
At Skye Recruitment we employ someone whose job is to monitor the quality of what we do. She is responsible for talking to every client and candidate with whom we have had close dealings, and asking for their feedback on the service that they have received from our consultants. Sometimes people find it easier to be honest when speaking to a third party, rather than directly to you.
Once you have the feedback, you need to make changes. (If your feedback is 100% glowing in all regards then don't make changes - stay like that - and consider sharing the secrets to your success with everyone else).
It's not fair to ask for an investment from your client (in the form of feedback), if you're not prepared to put in the work to show them you are willing to take that feedback on board.
Once you have the feedback you need to draw up a plan of action, based on how to maximise what your client likes about you, and eradicate/ minimise the negative parts.
And then review. Give it a reasonable amount of time and then talk to your client again. Tell them that you have made XYZ changes based on their feedback. Ask the same questions again - what do they think of you? What do they like? What don't they like?
You only stand to gain from this. You will gain knowledge, an insight into what you're doing well and not so well, added rapport with your client, and respect from your client that you are trying to do things right by them.