What it Takes to Win Over a New Client – Customer References
In today’s age, it’s easy to search and get reviews for pretty much any product or service. If you’re looking for a hotel, you probably read the reviews of the hotel before you book. If you’re looking to buy a new product, you do the same before adding it to your cart.
It’s the same in the business world. As we court new clients, they want to see reviews from our customer on the kind of work we provide, and the quality of our services. They want to know that we can “walk the walk.” This can be challenging though, because often in today’s business climate many customers do not want their identity revealed, or do not even allow us to publicly acknowledge that they are our customer.
But customer reviews are very important to a service company’s ongoing future or business, even if it’s a generic endorsement of a company’s product or services. Our company solicits customer feedback monthly on the projects that we complete.
We often get positive feedback that we love to share with our team internally and celebrate. We may even do a formal project lessons learned analysis when there is either positive or negative feedback to make sure we continue doing what we are doing to delight the customer, or stop doing what upsets our customers.
Most people think that the project lessons learned process is only done to handle project failures and customer complaints, but we also document and share the successes that occurred during the project with the rest of our team, to ensure that we continue to do the things that delight our customers. It is equally as important to keep doing the things we do right as it is to correct the things are wrong.
One example of recent feedback that we received was on our attention to detail and commitment to executing the Site Acceptance Test (SAT) for a client in the medical device industry. There were many unexpected hurdles along the way during the project, but the team overcame them, which built a tremendous amount of credibility with the client. It was a complex system and it was implemented in a very timely manner. Strong project management and the commitment of the team were keys to our success. We made a very robust and expandable framework, which delighted the customer and presented future opportunities to customize the system. This project and the relationship with this client evolved from providing a service to becoming an automation/integration partner.
Another good example is where we upgraded an old control system over to a new platform for a local food manufacturer. We had a very short window of time that the process could be down. We “built” the entire control system offline, and tested it before we installed it. We installed as much of the equipment as possible before the changeover with the old control system in place, then when it came time to switch the system over we worked around the clock to efficiently bring up the new system and remove the old. We actually finished this project ahead of schedule and the customer was truly delighted.
We have been able to use these (and other) customers as references for other potential work that we have bid on. Their endorsements of our team and our capabilities have opened new doors to other potential customers that probably would not have opened without these references.
It all circles back to feedback: Customers – please respond to customer feedback requests, and Suppliers – Please make your surveys as concise as possible! We know it’s a pain to do customer surveys and provide references, but these are key to your suppliers winning work with other clients, and ensuring that they’ll still be around the next time you need them as well!