|Lucy Hoang, ICM Unlimited|
Following a year-long study of interviews with UK and US research buyers from organisations including Unilever and Lloyds Bank, consultant David Armes revealed the ‘Ten Commandments’ of what clients want from market research agencies at a very relevant MRS members' evening in May. He set the scene by revealing that clients admit their briefs rate at a five or six out of ten, saying ‘we want you to organise our thinking.’ Here are my five picks of how we can meet client expectations better from David’s illuminating session:
Show that we care about their work
Clients want to know and feel like we care about their work. Rather than seeing each project as a job ending at the debrief, they want the work they commission and invest in to be noticed, to make them and their role within the organisation invaluable. Proving we care about what we do by going the extra mile for the client gives the research more chance of having the desired impact.
This comes in two parts, collaboration with the insights team and the client organisation, and also with other agencies in a productive and effective way. This is increasingly important as more data sources converge to offer up the bigger picture. Some clients predict that dedicated project managers will be hired to manage this process. But don’t forget The Golden Rule: play nicely - and don’t shout for share of voice – this is a big turn off.
Be flexible and responsive
Clients’ businesses and needs evolve rapidly - we’re often told to ‘flow with my business’. So be flexible and reactive. We are all too familiar with a brief taking on a new shape as ‘stakeholder creep’ sets in. Embrace the scope change – this is the opportunity to step up and shine.
Credibility is not just about technical capability, it is also defined by demonstrating we have experienced the same client and customer problems. Of course the client knows their business better than we do, but we need to constantly show that we understand their sector and offer up that landscape view.
Earn and deliver trust
We work in a people business, and the foundation for working effectively with people is trust. Clients want to trust that you personally are looking out for their best interests. Yes time and budget are necessary questions in response to a brief – but don’t lead on this, take the time to show that you want to get the best answers to their research questions. This is what clients say offers the true point of differentiation.
The session was a timely reminder that we must care about our clients and their businesses if we’re to be credible and trusted advisers whose work has a real impact. As we work more often and more closely with other agencies to maximise the value from a myriad of data sources, it’s important to collaborate effectively as this may be how our role will evolve.