This blog was originally posted on talentmgt.com.
It seems that we’re missing the boat a bit when it comes to client service. Client satisfaction among staffing firms was in decline for the fourth straight year in 2013, according to Clearly Rated’s “Best of” competitions for exceptional service. Even more disconcerting is that the number of clients who don’t view their staffing firm as a strategic partner is up by 50 percent. But I feel these are fairly easy fixes — what can I say, I’m optimistic about this topic.
It’s intuitive to think that any robust relationship should be a two-way street, each party seeking collaboration and providing honest communication for the betterment of the partnership. Clients expect this from their staffing providers as they do any business relationship. So while outsourcing specialty areas of the business to experts can be efficient and cost-effective, there is quite a difference between a client needing your services and one wanting to partner with you.
Having a relationship that is at a higher level and being seen as a strategic partner requires more in the way of subject matter leadership. Whether the client initially realizes it or not, the relationship deserves more than a “jump/how high?” association. I like this point from author and business strategist Daniel Rasmus, who wrote: “Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.”
While saying something like, “We are different because we are more than just a staffing provider” may be true and something every person in your organization believes, leading a new business conversation with this is ineffective and likely to speed your exit to the door. Instead, demonstrate your points of differentiation through actions, not just words. (There’s a reason the phrase “actions speak louder than words” has been around since the 1600s.)