A Walk on the Client Side of the House

Posted by: in Communication Strategy on March 29, 2011

For more than a decade now, I’ve been on the agency side of dozens of client relationships. It’s a position that I know well. Client service is a big part of why WCG been able to grow so steadily over the past decade. I live for my clients in ways that are borderline obsessive, and I like to think that with @WeissWord and others, I have helped define what “client engagement” really means in health care. Over the years, I’ve been a strategic partner, a passionate advocate and a sounding board.

What I haven’t been, however, is  a “client.” Until this month.

Last week, we put our sweet but small house on the market as our family’s needs finally outgrew our space.  In the process, we met with four listing realtors and listened to four surprisingly unique pitches.

The first was Geek-Out Laptop Guy. He spoke to his computer the whole time, and pelted us with random, seemingly inconsequential data points (“200 hits on trulia.com!” “452 websites pick up the listing!”)  Then came We-Are-the-Biggest-and-Broadest, “we even have affiliates in Europe”( that we surely will never need). Followed quickly by Benefit-From-My-Sage-Wisdom-and-Seniority.  The last was Mr. We-Know-Your-Market.

The truth is they were all good stories and we listened with interest.  As they spoke, I thought about all the pitches and client meetings I have been in over the last several years: WCG has, at one point or another, struck all of these positionings in our pitches.

Who did we go with? Actually the positioning and marketing pitch didn’t really matter much.  We chose the person most committed to having a true partnership with us.  Although he certainly satisfied the table stakes and knew what he was doing, he wasn’t the deepest in our market or the most seasoned. But he seemed to welcome the fact that we were well-educated and had strong points of view.  He understood that since it is our home, we might know a thing or two about it. And he seemed like he could keep up with our information-hungry personalities.

And our hunch has proved right: he’s creative, capable and uber-responsive.  He takes our feedback but pushes back or guides us when he feels we’re missing things from his expert perspective. And he responds to my emails in 30 seconds.

After all these years, I’ve learned an old lesson once again. When it comes to hiring realtors – or communications agencies  — knowing what you are doing is table stakes. Firm positioning is somewhat interesting.  But finding a partner you can really see yourself working with for a long time – that’s priceless.  As we agency folks spend more time than we care to admit defining our “positioning,” we should remember it’s really not what matters.  Clients care about working with the people who will  sell their house, product or corporate story like it is their own and forge an honest, and passionate bond that is as critical as any of the other big partnerships in life.

I’m thrilled that our agency has a Client Partner mindset  at our core. We focus on developing people who take partnership to the next level. Not only does it win the pitch – but it makes the journey so much more rewarding all around.

PS – if you know anyone looking for a “Charming Tudor Updated for Modern Life” in Bronxville, NY – have ‘em give me a call.

By: Hala Mirza

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2 Responses

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  1. melissa rowley said

    Love this — such a great real-world example of why the client partner model works and the importance of building honest, real relationships w/ our clients.

  2. Mark said

    Hala – great post!… and I say this as (your) former client::)
    “…finding a partner you can really see yourself working with for a long time – that’s priceless.” – Exactly!

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