Sure, I create branding programs and advertising plans and you write screenplays, reconcile trial balances, argue court cases, engineer air-conditioning schematics, run a convention and visitors’ bureau, manage finances, diagnose health issues, or whatever it is you do.
But besides the actual technical aspects of our jobs, we both do the same thing. We use our talents, skills, education, experience, knowledge, passion, and time to achieve desired results for our clients or employers.
You fill hotel rooms, protect assets, improve health, reduce taxes, and recommend solutions. I help make my clients’ products and services more valuable.
As different as those things might appear, the way we go about them is the same. We each make a promise to our clients and then we spend at least a third (and usually more) of our waking hours living up to our promise.
The trouble is, we often work for clients who don’t actually know if we’ve done a good job or not. Sometimes our successes aren’t acknowledged. Sometimes our successes (or failures) are due to circumstances entirely outside our control. And sometimes our clients simply aren’t qualified to know how well we’ve done in the first place.
The Doctor’s office called the patient, “Ma’am, your check came back.” The patient answered, “So did my arthritis!”
So we all do the same thing and we all have the same problems: We have to promise our clients a successful outcome BEFORE we work for them and then we have to validate our results AFTER we’re done.
If that rings true to you, let me suggest three simple questions that I’ve started asking my clients. They can help with both the before and the after of our engagements.
They are the three questions every professional needs to ask.
1. What do you want to accomplish?
2. How do you plan to accomplish that?
3. How will you know when you’ve achieved what you want?
In other words, “What is your goal?” “What is your plan?” “How will you measure success?”
I find that if we have a sustentative conversation with our clients before we undertake an assignment, and then we have an honest debrief after we complete it, we not only do a better job but we can help assure a satisfactory outcome and a satisfied client.
What’s more, this simple bit of client service does at least two other good things. It sets us up for additional projects and it pre-writes the testimonial that our clients will use when they recommend us to others. And both of these can lead to new clients and new revenue.
The three questions every professional needs to ask are so valuable that they should become a regular part of every client interaction. And listening carefully to the answers and incorporating them into your work should be a regular part of every assignment you undertake.
Because when you use your talents to satisfy those answers, you’ll find you’ll satisfy your clients. Regardless of what it is you do, the three questions every professional needs to ask are the three questions you need to ask too.