Thursday, September 17, 2015

Do you feel like a "valuable" consumer?

Today — I stand and believe I have worked in the business spectrum long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its brand identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as complex and rapidly shifting as I have ever seen it.
To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firms operate and think about making money.  I write this from the view as a consumer dealing with various companies over the years.

It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of a firm’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made companies great and allowed them to earn clients’ trust for hundreds of years.  A time when a handshake was stronger than oak. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. There was a time of loyalty from internal clients (employees) and external clients (consumers) but what happened? Why is there so much client turnover and dissatisfied consumers today? Well, I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually minimal trace of the few organizations that still operate with this style of culture.

Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of being a business consultant for a multi-national Advertising Firm advising thousands of clients across the United States. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, always delivering the “BEST” experience possible…internal and external clients.

How did we get here, why am I writing this? A “CLIENT” cultural shift is needed quickly and those organizations that adapt the quickest will prevail immensely.

Today, many organizations display a culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend external webinars monthly, undertake future studies, attend business conferences, but yet, not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help retain clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them or how do we 'grow our business'. 

It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen several different organizations that I personally dealt with on a consumer buying continuum pose little to no thought towards the end-to-end client experience…simply once the sale was made or the contract was executed…se la vie!

No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals?

Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

It astounds me how little organizations today conceptualize a basic fundamental theory: If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.

These days, the most common question I gather is, “How much money did we make off the client?” It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their internal business culture about the way they should behave. Now project 10 years into the future: How many companies will fix the client experience and become part of the wonderful day-to-day companies to conduct business with, or, how many more will fall victim to the overarching theme of sell now, client later?

When I was a first-year consultant I didn’t know where the bathroom was, or how to tie my shoelaces. I was taught to be concerned with learning the ropes, finding out what about who was the best and how to become better than them, understanding finance, getting to know our clients and what motivated them, learning how they defined success and what we could do to help them get there.

My proudest career moments in life — getting hundreds of clients to become millionaires over the past decade through an exceptional client experience. I just don’t see this happening in the industry as much as we should…change is needed.  Time to step up and adapt!

I hope this can be a wake-up call to all organizations out there. Make the client the focal point of your business again. Without clients you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist.

If you need help retaining your clients reach out to us @

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