In a series of blog posts over the coming months, I’ll be giving a few thoughts and opinions on what makes a great business consultant.
The world of consulting has been undergoing considerable change over the past 5 years. One significant change in my mind is that many customers now expect the instant gratification, responses and service they already receive in their personal lives, in an “always online” world. Social media has definitely contributed to this outlook – where a lot of consumer facing businesses can engage, in real-time, with their customers. Now, whilst we can’t be everywhere at once instantly, I was once told long ago, “Customers will tolerate bugs and new technology teething issues. But what they won’t tolerate is being ignored.”
Thus, the key theme of this blog, and a key to a great consulting experience is; responsiveness.
Responsiveness is simply taking action to meet the needs of, or respond to, a customer. It is about timeliness, being proactive and responding with appropriate sentiment.
It’s also about tailoring the response to the needs, goals and business outcomes for the customer – no one likes to feel they are just getting the “standard response” back. It needs relevance.
Overall, responsiveness is about keeping promises and doing what you say you are going to do. We thought it was so important we made it one of our values at Sensei. Put simply “We keep promises”.
For any consulting company, I firmly believe responsiveness is a key to success. Responsiveness impresses people (likely because they’re not used to it in the business world!), it eases tension and changes perceptions of our people and services – you’ll be amazed at how forgiving customers will be simply because you responded quickly and appropriately. It also represents our professionalism, sets a standard for us to live up to and differentiates us from our competitors. And finally, Sensei is a business focused on evolving productivity – how can we be expected to do that if we’re hindering our customer’s productivity by having to wait for us!
So how can you improve your responsiveness? Here’s some of the skills you’ll need to have;
- Be an active listener in any conversation
- Being empathetic
- The use of cooperative language; for example, using non-confrontational questions to build understanding
- A focus on problem solving instead of blame
- Doing what you say you are going to do – keeping your promises
- The ability to quickly understand others’ needs and motivators and responding appropriately
- Respond to others as you’d expect to be responded to yourself