At the end of a successful meeting, a client recently said to us that he thinks the difference between a “good” agency and a “great” agency is how well they listen.
If you are a fantastic designer/writer/project manager, but you don’t pay attention to what your client wants, everyone is going to end up being frustrated. It’s very easy to get distracted, to send mixed signals, or to misunderstand what someone wants. Sometimes it helps to remind ourselves how to really and truly listen to what our clients need:
1) Be present. If you are physically there but your brain is thinking about your grocery list, or what you have to do to get ready for your next meeting, then you’re not really present. Once you walk through the door or pick up the phone to your client, put everything else away and be present with them.
2) Remember what technology is for. Put down your phone. I mean right now. Stop checking email, responding to texts, checking twitter. Yes, these are important tasks and you should set aside time in your day to do these, but compulsively checking your phone while with clients will not make you look like you’re in demand. It will just make you look like you don’t care about who you’re with. Look and listen wholeheartedly.
3) Repeat it back. It sounds silly, and can sometimes feel silly, but if you repeat back in your own words what you thought the client said, sometimes you find that your understanding of what they wanted was very different from what they actually meant. Checking for meaning can mean the difference between getting it right the first time and having to do it over.
4) Write it down. Keep your notebook handy. You are a journalist out on the latest news story. Get the facts down quickly and write your notes while the subject is fresh.
Keeping these tips in mind will help you to truly listen – and truly understand – what your clients want. It can make the difference between good results and great results.
Discover what is true and practice what is good,
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