Category Archives: lean startup

client engagement basics: all hail the mighty client!

Customers get a bad rap. Whether you are a new business trying to find some or an existing business trying to please the ones you have, positive client engagement seems to be a lofty goal. How will you ever get there?

It starts with four words: How. Am. I. Doing?

Scared?

image via creative commons

A lot of people fear client feedback, and with good reason.

Customer service platitudes tell us that for every one customer that says something pleasant about our service or product, there are a million with horror stories about terrible experiences, providers, and products that they are spreading through their networks.

And, what if we have room to improve? What if the client has real feedback about where you can improve? (We are entering into deep gremlin-land here.) AND you are supposed to be helping your client: is it really right to ask them to help you?

Yes. Absolutely, without a doubt, yes.

With all of those hesitations plus more, two weeks ago, I asked two of my clients to provide case study details for some of the marketing I am doing on Noomii.com (the directory for coaches). The results were invaluable.

Hard Truth: I heard the hard truth from my clients about what I was doing well as a coach and where I could have been more rigorous.  Fully take that in: the client in no uncertain terms identified how they benefitted from working with me and what else they could have found helpful. Power boost and client insight!

Feet to the Fire: My client identified a couple of areas where I was thinking of expanding my business, and systems and processes that would have been helpful in their experiences. Hearing the client tell me what I already knew what needed to be done moved those items WAY up on the “working on the business” to-do list.

Bottom Line: Both clients I spoke with were in different situations, one recently completed and one still in a coaching program. In each case, I was able to identify the bottom line problem that came to coaching to look to solve and the changes that they have made as a result of working with me.  Both clients explained what they achieved in their own words: invaluable to future marketing efforts!

Scared? Yes I was.

But taking the one hour to go through case study details with these clients gave much more back to the business than I could ever imagine. I was invigorated, re-affirmed and excited by what I heard. Want to hear the what two clients said about working with me? There is Sam  and Gillian.

Take the jump. Open up and ask your clients: “How am I doing?”

Can’t wait to hear your results.

Making Things Happen

http://www.pinterest.com/gunsinger/gunsinger-coaching/

gunsinger coaching on pinterest

This week, I was lucky enough to be in the audience while Steve Blank skype-presented to members of Accelerate Okanagan. What a cool experience, to have access to such a prolific thought leader on startups and customer development. After a 45-minute presentation and a round of very engaging Q&A with the audience, I left with extra-spring in my step for a couple of key reasons:

  • Failure = experience. Steve underlined the importance of failure, of designing “experiments” that engage your target audience and by doing that, turning your hypothesis of what your clients need/want into facts and insights. It’s a matter of moving from fiction to fact.
  • Your baby might be ugly, so deal with it. The only way you are going to find out whether your product/service is viable is by asking, testing, and perhaps, pivoting. I love how Steve made this helluva great comparison, because that’s what your work might feel like: your baby.
  • Your customer: a day in the life. You need to know what a day in the life of your customer looks like now. You need to know what it looks like after using your product/service. What a juicy thing to dig your teeth into!
  • Entrepreneurs make things happen. My favourite quote from Steve’s presentation and so true. Entrepreneurs make cool things, move things along, and even move mountains to get to their end goal. Dog. Bone. Right on.

Stay cool, my business-minded friends. And check out The Startup Owner’s Manual: the first manual that I ever wanted to read.