We recently started a project with a new client, which is always a great time to evaluate how we got the business and what the deciding factors were. The company is a large provider of employee benefit plans to major employers, and someone we have courted for quite some time. In the course of the sales process we learned a few things about our prospect-turned-client that were notable to us, things that ended up being significant factors in our successful effort to win their confidence and their business.
Early on, for example, we learned that our new client – who will be using our Customer Review interview process – is already doing business with one of the “household names” in the third-party customer survey world. Through that survey research provider, our client is reaching out to hundreds of their customer contacts on a monthly basis. Upon further discovery we learned that the process is well established, that they are generally pleased with the current provider, and have no plans to discontinue surveying their customers using the existing approach.
While it’s not at all unusual for us to be working alongside a survey provider within a common client, the obvious question always is: “If you’re satisfied with what you’re already doing, why do you need another approach?” And by extension, why do you need E.G. Insight? The answers, of course, make all the difference between winning the new client or not. Here’s essentially what our contacts told us:
- We’re not reaching the right people. The third-party survey is effective at getting feedback from day-to-day contacts about operational performance and service quality issues. The senior-level decision makers within their clients, however, are either not interested or not in a position to comment on the routine transactions and interactions that take place.
- We have had some unfortunate surprises. On several occasions executives from our client conducted “top to top” meetings with their customer counterparts. Prior to the meetings all indications were that the relationship was solid and there were no significant problems, issues, or threats to be concerned about. What the meetings uncovered, to the surprise of our client, was a very different truth. The day-to-day contacts may have been fine with the current service levels, but the senior-level decision makers were operating from a different set of criteria. They raised problems that were previously unknown and that the survey data hadn’t detected.
- Our contacts don’t like to be surveyed. Our client has received several comments from those same senior-level contacts that they didn’t care for the existing survey process, declined to participate, and wished to be removed from the list. The survey firm and its personnel were professional enough, but the method and the content were wrong. They weren’t appropriate for people above a certain level within the customer organizations. The customers also expressed that they didn’t want to speak with a researcher. Instead, they were interested in having a frank and open discussion about objectives, problems, and opportunities with someone they knew and trusted – someone involved in the relationship and who has a vested interest in meeting the customer’s needs and retaining their business.
Ultimately, the decision to engage E.G. Insight came down to a statement made by our senior contact. After outlining the issues and examples listed above he said, “Our best customers deserve better from us. And so do we.”