In my search for tips for our Group Projects, I came across the article “Working with Clients: How to Make it Simpler and Easier” by Kevin Eikenberry, a self-described “expert in converting… potential into desired results” and the author of 2 best-selling books on leadership.
Skimming the article, I felt this was worthwhile information, so I have decided to share.
Working with Clients: How to Make it Simpler and Easier
We can have greater success with our Clients when we make our work processes and agreements simpler and more elegant. This article will give you ideas for making your contracts and commitments, projects and plans, reports and relationships with Clients simpler. Here then, are six suggested ways to make your products and services more elegant.
1. Ask Why
When we understand the root cause of the client request we are better able to sort out and find simple elegant solutions. Often complex solutions come from unfocused efforts and expectations. Asking why can help you make your client contracts much more effective – helping both you and your client. Clients will appreciate the results of you helping them get to the heart of the matter.
2. Understand the Client’s real needs.
Asking “Why?” helps us get to the client’s real needs. We can also get to real needs by discovering the needs of all the relevant groups involved. A little time to build greater understanding will help you build more elegant solutions.
3. Keep the big picture in mind.
While you are building your solution, or delivering your service, keeping the big picture in mind will help you keep it simple. When we remember how hard deployment of anything(!) can be, we are reminded to Keep it Simple. Let’s say you are building a training module on customer service for new employees, as a part of their orientation. The big picture says that these new people will be inundated with new information, expectations, procedures and more. Your module on Customer Service needs to be simple. It doesn’t need to incorporate all the nuances of your 9-step model. It needs to be to the point and easy to access and understand. Do they need all those nuances? Maybe later – but the big picture helps us reign in our designs and plans.
4. Keep the communication clear.
“If you can’t write it on the back of an envelope, your idea isn’t clear enough yet.” So goes the oft quoted advise. We as consultants are often guilty of not getting our ideas clear, or well focused enough (read NOT simple!). When we have clear communication as a real goal, we will keep things simpler.
5. Make it a criterion.
Seal all your work with a “KISS” (Keep it Splendidly Simple). Before sending a draft, a report, a template, a recommendation, whatever, to your client, as yourself if it is as simple as it could be. If it isn’t simple enough, you (or the client) will have more trouble understanding, communicating and deploying the work product.
6. Apply the Grandma Test.
Early in my career, my grandmother asked what I was doing. I tried to explain about improving client performance, teaching useful skills, etc. As a retired schoolteacher, she eventually caught on. “Oh,” she said, “you teach adults.” Yes Grandma, that is exactly what I do. I am a better consultant when I remember this lesson. Your clients and their employees don’t care about your jargon. They care about results. Keep it simple. Tell it like it is. When you do that you’ll have better success with current projects, and more referrals in the future.