Event Recap: Cultivating a Client Appreciation Culture

Contributed by Katrina Tran, Marketing Coordinator at Holst Architecture

SMPS Oregon started off the new year with “Cultivating a Client Appreciation Culture,” an event focused on reframing business development by focusing on client relationships. Lisa Keohokalole Schauer, CPSM (President, PointNorth Consulting) explained to attendees that A/E/C industry firms have a habit of presenting past work as evidence of future success, rather than focusing on the specifics of a potential project and fostering a sense of teamwork and camaraderie with clients.

Throughout the session, Lisa led attendees through several thought exercises that focused on understanding the client and brainstorming best practices for providing them services.

A+ Customer Service

Attendees paired up and shared examples of outstanding customer service that they had experienced, then explored how those experiences could be transferrable to A/E/C services.  Lisa shared her experience of an airline employee diligently updating passengers on a delayed flight every half hour, regardless of whether there was any new information. The employee anticipated passengers’ need for information, promised consistent communication, and followed through on that promise. This approach built trust between the employee and passengers, calming what could have been a frustrating travel experience. Other examples of outstanding client service shared included customized solutions, minimizing risk, and sincere listening.

Client Personas

Next, Lisa outlined the value in creating client personas: generalized client examples that help one understand and empathize with a potential client. The exercise of crafting a client persona can help marketers and technical staff break the cycle of “we-we-we” and instead consider a client’s goals and values. For example, a school district decision-maker is likely someone between the ages of 40-60, who has children, values health and safety, and is very cost-concerned. This quick take can focus project approaches and help build a client relationship.

Whole Brain Thinking

Lisa wrapped up the morning by outlining the different kinds of thinking people prefer and how identifying your client’s thinking approach can improve communication and understanding. The four kinds of thinking include:

  • Analytical. A logical and fact-based approach to thinking. This person is focused on “what” questions and prefers a quantitative approach to projects.
  • Practical. An organized and structured thought process. This person asks how a project will be done and values a detailed action plan.
  • Relational. An approach centered around interpersonal relationships. This person wants to know who will be on the project.
  • Experimental. A holistic approach to thinking. This person wants to know why decisions are made and consider integrated project approaches.

Attendees left this event with a greater understanding of how to connect with clients and tools to create greater client appreciation at work. You can find more information about PointNorth Consulting on their website, and additional marketing resources on the SMPS website.

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