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Demonstrating leadership through customer service

by Roy Gonsalves.

In my last blog post, I wrote about new technologies that can be leveraged for research purposes.  For some time now, my colleague Patrick Prunskus and I have been talking a lot about building a roadmap to help our clients do just that.

We made the assumption that if we were able to clearly map out the process of using new technologies, this would increase the adoption rates of those technologies.  I think we had it all wrong.

The roadmap isn’t about identifying how to use these tools, it’s about the journey and conversations you have with a client along the way.  It’s about understanding the needs of the client, their business objectives and how we can help them move forward.  Ultimately, it’s about how these new technologies can be incorporated into their existing business, with minimal disruption, and how our leadership, guidance and support can get them there.

However, the biggest hurdle is putting a researcher or consultant in a situation where they need to pitch a new technology or methodology that’s unfamiliar to them. Taking that new path can be a scary thing and the default reaction is to pitch a known methodology that has never failed the researcher in the past.

So how does one pitch new and unfamiliar technologies/methodologies?  From my perspective, we need to allow the experts to be experts.  In this respect, AskingCanadians is an expert as it relates to data collection and the application of new technologies. We aim to introduce new technologies for data collection purposes to help further our industry as a whole and to demonstrate to our clients how to take advantage of these new tools. Our drive is to challenge and help our core clients grow and to be leaders in their space.

A few weeks ago, Steve Mast, the President of Delvinia, posted a comment within his social network about customer-centricity saying, “Customer-centric is a combination of listening, empathy and leadership.” He went on to say that he believed leadership is where most organizations fail.

I agree with Steve but I also think for many organizations, this also relates to service.  When most people in our industry think about service, they think about providing the lowest possible cost, meeting deadlines or providing fast turnaround times, etc.  From my perspective, service also means working with our clients to help them grow and to challenge their current way of thinking, to expand their horizons. Great leadership leads to great service; they go hand-in-hand.

Leadership is about understanding your clients’ business, thresholds for risk, and the ability to help them understand the potential for new technologies and how to use them to enhance their business. It’s about asking your clients difficult questions and not being afraid to challenge them on topics.  It’s about taking responsibility for the success of the relationship and ensuring the client is comfortable in your skills, abilities and expertise.  Leadership is building a relationship based on mutual trust and respect.

To me, this is the new standard of a supplier/client relationship and this is what we all need to strive for.

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