If your company is getting larger, then it is also getting more complex. And bigger clients are probably now within your reach, which means client complexity is growing too. The number of parameters can be overwhelming, so choosing the ones on which to focus, can be the key the mastering the relationship without getting swamped. Four key points can be identified, to start with.
Industrial standards are probably the best place to start with the key points of making yourself indispensable to a large client. Industrial standards, be they regulatory or simply common practice in the industry, are a beaten path, beaten by others before. Others who made all the mistakes to be made, tried the trials to be carried out, and then solidified into a standard. In addition, standards are a way for your client to know more about how you, something which is always comforting. In the recent normalization of LNG ships, Steve O’Malley, Chair of technical committee ISO/TC 8, said “The requirements of ISO 20519 can be incorporated as a management objective into existing management programs and provide verifiable compliance”. However, bear in mind that your standards are not the only ones in the world. If your market is global, make sure you become acquainted with the standards of the client’s market, for that type of mishap can quickly escalate into disaster.
Reporting is doubly important because B2B relationships imply groups of people working together, or one for another. For every team-member, there is an extra chance that a crucial piece of information will slip through the cracks. And the more parties involved, and the larger the groups, the higher the risk – something that has become crucial in the modern developed world. Michael Faloney, director of RSM, says “The ability to perform sophisticated and innovative reporting and analytics is becoming critical for all organizations. Processing timely data and the proper reporting and analytic capabilities enhances the ability to make more informed, evidence-based decisions.”
Process is the way to make sure you hit perfection every time, not just when you get lucky. Production is a human process, and because of that reason, it can be tainted with alterations. Having a specific and detailed process sheet for each process is the guarantee against oversight, even from experienced staff members, and inexperienced blunders from newcomers or replacement. All in all, keeping a tight customer information management process is the best way to avoid clients don’t have the idea they are not listened to. In their mind, they consider that, because they have given the information to one of your employees, they consider they have given it to the entire company. Globe Newswire sums it up : “ Strategic data management, contact validation, industry-leading data quality, and robust business process management capabilities for collaboration and governance are at the core of the offering.”
Quality management is the final check. It is the reason why the manager inspects the truck just before it leaves the warehouse – or even sometimes follows it to the client’s workplace. Upon reception, the client has no interest in knowing why things went wrong, he just wants them not to. Oberthur Fiduciaire, one of the top banknote suppliers in the world, set up a joint venture of banknote production with the Bulgarian National Bank, something it couldn’t have done without making its highly sensitive clients comfortable with the quality control level of that facility: “In conducting international tenders for production of banknotes, Central Banks have a requirement to explicitly name the locations of banknote production, and the printing works fulfilling the orders should meet the standards of access to information, standards for security and a quality control standard. For Oberthur Fiduciaire to be able to guarantee the fulfilment of these standards they should have full control on the company, and hence on the process of production (thus, the new company will be able to receive from the European Central Bank a certificate for production of euro banknotes, which presently BNBPW does not have)”, wrote the Bulgarian National Bank.
Mastering the client relationship and creating value for it can almost be boiled down to the same thing. When value isn’t created for the client, it is seldom out of bad will from the supplier – it’s always because the information either wasn’t acquired, or was lost somewhere in the pipes. Mastered processes, reporting, standards and quality are the four essential safeguards that will prevent disaster from striking. Of course, investing into a complex and expensive customer relationship management software program can improve performance, but it won’t do the job for you. If the four points above are not mastered, the relationship will suffer from lack of created value, and will eventually break.