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Businesses are built on the satisfaction of their clients. Unhappy customers directly impede a company’s success, yet satisfied clients lead to business growth and strong profitability. But client satisfaction isn’t achieved overnight. It’s realized throughout the entire client journey and relies on a variety of interactions with different roles within a company. The following four stages explain the critical touch points to achieve client satisfaction.

1. The Sales and Pre-sell Stage

This phase requires the sales and proposed operations team to learn about the client and understand its goals. It is critical to listen during this phase, be honest and avoid overpromising. People do business with those they like and trust; this is accomplished through tactical execution of all pre-sell steps, including the key component of personal interaction. 

A goal in pre-sell is to establish a pursuit “champion” who will show unwavering support, with an ability to influence the selection process.

2. The Operations and Project Execution Stage

Once a project is sold, the relationship shifts to the project team, which is responsible for building relationships with all project stakeholders, including the owner, architect, engineer and project management firm. The key sales catalyst for repeat business is ultimately the operations team’s ability to deliver a project that meets the promises made during the sales stage. 

A key aspect in securing repeat business is the project team documenting the value-add it provided to the client. Don’t assume a satisfied client means that a relationship has truly been built.

3. The Handover Stage

At project completion, measuring results is vital. Part of achieving client satisfaction is providing documented value that has been captured through the life of the project; this must be quantifiable, measurable and defined by the client as important. 

Gilbane measures client satisfaction using a customer survey. The process begins with an expectations alignment meeting between the project executive and client within 30 days of project kick-off. Four surveys are distributed at various times throughout the project so the client can provide feedback on Gilbane’s team and project performance. The results determine corrective action as needed and serve as the foundation for continuous improvement.

4. The Repeat Business Stage

A team’s performance during the first three phases determines the potential for future business. Companies cannot achieve sales, revenue and profit targets without a specific level of repeat business. This is all driven by customer satisfaction and the building of stakeholder relationships. 

Each client satisfaction journey should be personalized to achieve loyal clients. Continuous follow-up by the sales and doer-seller team after project completion is key to maintaining relationships. That relationship is the foundation for repeat business and for positive references that are critical to securing future sales.

Ultimately, repeat business is achieved through a disciplined sales process that begins with securing the project through team pre-sell and developing a champion. The team must execute through flawless operations performance and quantify the value provided to all project stakeholders. All businesses require a long-term outlook that maintains relationships after the project is complete to position them for future opportunities.

Reprinted from Gilbane Ink, October 2018.

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