Projects, programs, and initiative leadership responsibilities amass, onboarding highly skilled individuals to support an initiative ensures the delivery of work in series. It’s one scenario where a client may leverage hiring a consultant or team of consultants.
Consultants are outside professionals who are contracted by a client business. They provide guidance and support and overcome challenges that are outside of the client’s typical scope.
Successful consultants tend to be experience oriented as they deliver tangible business results. They are not focused on looking good in the short term, but actively cultivate 3 habits that ensure their client’s long-term satisfaction with their work. They take time to understand their client’s needs, they keep their commitments, and they prioritize quality when they deliver.
1. Understanding Your Client’s Needs
Taking the time to truly understand your client’s needs is crucial to being an effective consultant. It can be easy to walk into a situation as a consultant and assume that you know everything. Afterall, you’ve been hired as “the expert.”
However, while you might know about your area of expertise, there are likely holes in your understanding of the clients’ needs.
This means you must gather more information. Much of this should happen before you even walk through the door.
Spend time researching your client. Learn everything you can about their business, including their products, services, and recent press releases. Look at social media posts and websites to better understand the value proposition they are providing to customers and employees.
Next, ask great questions. This means asking questions to seek “how” and “why”, not just “what”. If you only are asking about the “what” you will be missing valuable context that can provide a sharper image of the unique challenges and opportunities.
For example, let’s say your team is asked by a client, an electronics retailer, to re-vamp their online ordering system.
Your team might be made up of development demi-gods who could create a new system in their sleep. But, you probably don’t know enough to make sure it serves your client’s needs. Understanding why the current system isn’t serving their needs and how the system is currently being used is key context to help scope the challenge; and the better you understand and scope the challenge, the better solution you will be able to develop and deliver. Asking “what”, “why” and “how” questions will bridge this gap.
2. Keeping Commitments
Commitments are sacred in consulting. Nothing elevates a client’s experience, like when they can count on their consultants to deliver what they promised. Conversely, nothing kills a client’s experience more than not knowing when, or if, a finished solution is waiting for them at the deadline.
Several things go into making sure you keep your commitments as a consultant. Asking good questions and understanding the problem, as we discussed above, comes first. Having an accurate picture of what you’re doing minimizes mistakes later. Stopping these mistakes will save you time and quality.
With a clear picture, you can also better estimate how long it will take for your team to complete this project. This allows you to work with the client to make a manageable timeline.
Additionally, regularly tracking and reporting on your progress is recommended. This transparency has two major benefits. First, it helps catch problems before they arise. Second, it gives your client the sense that you genuinely care about the work you’re doing for them and are making progress towards it.
Even if another consultant has more knowledge and experience, delivering results will make you a better asset.
3. Prioritizing Quality
You’re not just after a good result, you’re after a great result. Striving after quality is the final key to delivering great business results in a way that elevates your client’s experience.
At first, it can seem difficult to achieve this while meeting deadlines. However, this is why seeking to understand your client’s needs is so important. By learning about what they need, you can help set deadlines that will allow you to properly prioritize creating quality work.
While simply having an attitude of doing your best goes a long way in achieving quality work, there are other tricks that can help as well.
One way to do this is to always be actively working to expand your knowledge and skills. This way, you’ll be better able to meet the needs of a client in an ever-changing business market.
Seek out resources on new industry trends or technologies. This can come in the form of free online resources, such as videos and articles. However, if you have the opportunity, it’s well worth investing in paid trainings and certifications. These expert taught classes provide unparalleled knowledge that will give you an edge and can make you stand out amidst other consultants. Many consulting firms will offer such trainings for free to their employees, as they know better than anyone the importance of a consultant that is constantly learning.
By making a point to develop your skills, you can set yourself up to consistently deliver high-quality business results. Improving your skills and increasing the options you have in your toolbox gives you a greater ability to tackle the problems that clients give you.
Delivering tangible business results to clients lies at the heart of what consultants do. However, to ensure an excellent client experience, you must do three things.
First, you must fully understand your client’s needs. This means doing your research and asking questions to get the best possible picture of the problem you’re there to solve.
Second, honor your commitments. Make a point of keeping to your deadlines, so that you build trust with your clients.
Third, prioritize quality. Continually develop your knowledge and skills so that you are always positioned to build innovative solutions.
If you’re interested in being part of a team dedicated to creating the best experience possible for our clients check out our opportunities open here.