You’ll be surprised – and so will they

ask your clientsJust the other day, this leaflet dropped through the letter box. The local council is thinking about installing these gizmos at bus stops around the county. So while you’re waiting in the rain with a dozen other bedraggled people, you can see that the number 52 is still 15 minutes away. To help pass the time, you could press the yellow circle to get community information. Or catch up on the latest police notices, the leaflet tells me. How calming. The important point here is that they’re asking me what I think before they launch the scheme.

Don’t keep it to yourself

It’s very tempting to wait until you’ve got every angle worked out before presenting an idea to your clients. Why? Because if you don’t, maybe they’ll think you don’t know what you’re doing. Or worse, that you’re making it up as you go along. But wait – you are making it up as you go along. With their input. Many years ago, when I worked for a large software company, we launched a reseller incentive. If salespeople sold X, they got £Y. But in our enthusiasm, we forgot to consult the resellers on the exact details. And it turned out that our incentive scheme clashed with their internal commission structure and the distributor incentive schemes. It wasn’t a success. So the next time round, we brought them all together and got their help to design a scheme that worked for everybody.

Open kimono

Involving clients in important decisions and getting their feedback on your future plans is a great way to make them feel valued. And it saves you the head-scratching frustration of wondering whether you’ve got it right. But if you are going to ask, make sure you’re doing it for that right reasons – and that you’re approaching it with an open mind. Somehow, I think the council has already made its mind up about the bus signs. The clue is on the reverse side, where the languge is relentlessly positive:
“Constantly striving to improve…brand-new…always current and up to date…wide variety…match all bus users’ needs…”
After all that, who would dare to tick the ‘No’ box? Apart from me, that is.