BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS Interviews: Kiana Doggan German

TONIGHT, for the Building Relationships inaugural interview, I will talk with Kiana Doggan German, a design, planning and communications specialist. She'll give us a NeoCon wrap-up, and we'll discuss community environments and blogging. Kiana blogs about interior design at StyleDetroit and her Semiotic Spaces blog presents sustainability, art, design, pop culture, religion and politics from a Detroit perspective.

CALL IN: (218) 936-4700
ACCESS: 875508#

* This call will be recorded so the interview will be available for future listening, Although you won't be able to speak on the call, you must agree to be recorded.


Speaking of Client Concerns: It's About the Little Things

Yesterday, I discussed how Comcast reassured customers about service compliants by addressing them directly in their commercials. Mel Lester, in his E-quip Blog, tells the story of how his service firm lost a top client, even though they'd just saved the client $20 million. Read his blog post here.

How so? It wasn't due to technical mistakes or cost overruns. They were fired because of the way they dealt with the client: unreturned phone calls, negative comments about the project location, and perceived apathy from the project manager.

Mel gives some tips on how to deal with the "little things" that can be a big deal to the client:

1) Make a list of all of your direct and indirect contact with your clients.

2) Determine how well these encounters go over, and determine where employees need to improve.

3) Get feedback from the client, beginning with the first encounter.

4) Include the client experience at all of your in-house project meetings.

5) Be on the lookout for signals from the client.


Address Client Concerns

Have you ever taken a day off from work so you could wait all day for a maintenance person to come to your house for a scheduled repair, only to have them stand you up? Do you know what it's like to wait on the phone for what seems to be an eternity to talk with an actual customer service representative when you have a problem?

Comcast, provider of phone, cable and internet services, once had a horrible customer service reputation. Their maintenance people wouldn't show (I know, I've waited). Customers couldn't get a live person on the phone, and their were other complaints.

However, Comcast has started a great advertising and PR campaign to reassure customers and boost their reputation. Their commercials feature employees (or actors posing as employees), addressing typical customer service complaints: you can quickly reach a live person on the phone, repair workers wear shoe covers in your home, you get a credit on your bill if they are late for an appointment. Not only are they reaching Comcast customers, but since there is more competition in the data and communications industry, they could probably win over some customers from their rivals, too.

Survey your clients and prospects to determine if they have any anxiety about the design and building process. Ask them if they've had trouble with service providers in the past. Address your clients concerns and anticipate their fears before they become an issue. Let them know you are listening to them throughout the process.