On “Consultancy lesson from Winston Wolfe” I talked about how consultants are not, and should not try to be “must-know-it-all encyclopedias with a solution for everything” that “are available within the hour” and “make problems go away in no time“.
Another crucial principle that consultants should always follow is that technical mastery of their specialist discipline is not enough to come across competent, and deliver good service and/or advice to a client. You need to earn their trust and confidence.
To do that, consultants must value the relationship with the client, more than the transaction in hand. However big it may be, it could be the only one you get, in case you are not able to create a long-standing and trusted relationship with your client.
Consultants invest in improving specialist technical skills, focus on acquiring experience, and work hard on building a network of contacts. But rarely spare enough time creating and nurturing trust relationships with clients. Majority don’t even know how to do it.
Here are a number of things you should follow if you want to build trust and confidence:
- Focus more on the client (and the problem), less on yourself (and your skills)
- See your client as a person (John Smith), and not just a role (Head of Operations)
- Listen more (understand challenge and concerns), talk less (don’t assume)
- Do the right thing (for your customer), not what’s best for you
- Personalise your delivery, don’t give “blanket” answers or on-size-fits-all solutions
- Be honest and transparent (even if truth is hard), don’t hide issues or say it’s all easy
- Make yourself always available, accessible and reachable
Customer-centricity, humanity, integrity, reliability, dependability, responsiveness (among other characteristics) are, more often than not, more important than technical mastery, when it comes to deliver outstanding service and successful outcomes to clients, creating long-standing win-win trust relationships.