Insights on embedding successful Key Client Management
Part 2 of 6
Having a clear view of the type and characteristics of the relationship that you currently have and wish to have with each of your clients is crucial to success. There may be some relationships that offer long-term potential; others provide steady levels of low margin income.
The construction industry is a highly project-focused environment, yet it is the relationships that occur within the project team that lead to success. Developing and building these relationships for the future is sometimes haphazard, not least because the construction market is also highly competitive.
Contractors and consultants often complain that some clients will always base their selection decision on price. As a result this negates the value of the expertise and the hard work that has been put into developing these relationships and the insight that enables the team to craft a solution that they believe is better than that of its competition.
However, it could also be that the client does not understand why and how this solution is better in terms of meeting their needs. It is often the case that your team does not position and project the added value, or how they could continue to create that added value on future projects. Construction organisations don’t themselves fully appreciate the added value they actually deliver.
If construction firms do not understand & communicate where they can add value to a project and do not differentiate themselves from the competition, then the client can only judge them on the lowest common denominator. And this is often the price.
To move the focus away from (exclusively) price, we need to understand why our existing clients keep coming back. A part of this is through understanding where, who and how we added value to their business during the last project(s).
Why not ask them? Better still get a third party to ask them and get the warts and all. Your clients will be impressed that you care enough to ask where they want your service to improve; but don’t then forget to change what they said isn’t working.
In situations where the service that clients receive doesn’t meet their minimum expectation, this will fuel their price sensitivity. You need to know if this is the case. This can then be married with your own understanding of the relationships that you have with the client. You may find that your views are aligned, or that they are significantly different – each informing your future plans and actions.
What may emerge from this feedback are actions to improve the quality and focus of the service that the client receives. These may relate to technical solutions or management processes, but equally they may concern some of the background issues, not least the management of expectations.
Want more information? See our case study on how we helped Cundall revitalise their Win Work capability here