By Ted Schuman, Founder/CEO
Everybody talks about being a “trusted advisor,” and therein lies the problem: There’s far more talk than action. A lot of partners and providers still operate in a reactive versus proactive mode when it comes to the customer experience.
Yes, you should address customer requests. But that shouldn’t be the only time you’re engaging with your customers. To become a trusted advisor, partners and providers must learn to anticipate customer needs by introducing new technologies, services and strategies that will support their businesses well into the future. That’s what being a trusted advisor is all about.
In delivering services and solutions, often you become more knowledgeable of your customer environments than the customers themselves. You learn their needs, aspirations and pain points. If you know of a new solution or service that would do a better job than what is already in place of supporting a piece of the business, you point that out because their business success is top of mind.
Understand Customer Needs
To take an active role in your customer’s business as a trusted advisor, you have to listen and play it smart. Obviously, understanding the business is a must. A needs assessment may be in order if you haven’t done that in a while – or ever. It will help determine what additional services could benefit the business.
You also must keep an eye on the market, staying current on the landscape to identify which new technologies and services provide a good fit for your customers. The market is constantly evolving, and there’s always the possibility a new advancement could make a real difference in boosting a customer’s competitiveness and profitability. If you are proactive about introducing it to the customer, the gesture will not go unnoticed.
Choose Partnerships Wisely
A successful and resourceful trusted advisor cannot go it alone. To properly support the customer, you have to choose good, customer-minded technology partners – those that deliver the right mix of technology, support services, value-add and profit margin.
Before entering any formal alliance, vet the partner and/or provider to ensure they have good track record of supporting customers, and their technology and services deliver as promised. Also check if prospective partners and providers are on solid financial ground to avoid partnering with companies that go out of business a few months later. If you’re on the fence for any reason, trust your gut. The last thing you want is to saddle up with a partner or provider who isn’t worthy and doesn’t share your vision for success.
Do What You Say You’re Going to Do and Exceed Expectations
The customer experience is everything. In order to become a trusted advisor, you have to always be earning the business and the client’s trust. You’ve no doubt heard the phrase half the battle is showing up. Well, if that’s true, the other half is doing what you say you’re going to do and exceeding customers’ expectations while you do it.
Relationships rule. Do right by your people, your partners and your providers. Work hard. Play hard. And you will become a trusted advisor and see the business grow.