Honesty and transparency with clients and prospects builds better retention and loyalty

Music For America: Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me
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This is the second of a series of interviews with CEOs that were included in a book I wrote in late 2010 called RARE Business. It was a collection of thoughts, ideas and strategies to help businesses ‘build better relationships with their customers and their people’.

The interviews were included to supplement my own thoughts and experience and add richness, depth and context. In the interviews, I asked them what they have done to drive their business’ success, customer focus and how they have built their employee and customer engagement.

The first interview was with Andrew Beale of Beales Hotels and is featured in Longevity of ownership and staff service are two main keys to building customer retention and loyalty

The second interview was with Stephen Waddington of Speed Communications. Launched in March 2009, Speed is a PR consultancy that that advises brands how to manage their reputation in print, broadcast, online and social media. Formed by bringing together the teams of BMA Communications, Custard PR, Lighthouse PR, Mantra PR and Rainier PR it specialises in the consumer, technology, business and corporate sectors. Speed is run by Stephen Waddington and Steve Earl as joint Managing Directors and employs 50 people. Stephen also writes an award-winning blog at Wadd’s PR and Media Blog.

Stephen agreed to talk to us and share some insights about what has made his business so successful in retaining customers, building a great team and driving repeat business and growth.

In our interview, Stephen shared some insights on what he believes they do, at Speed, that has helped them build a truly customer-focused business and team. Here are some of his insights:

  1. We do everything that we recommend that our client should do. Speed believe that they are their own most important client and, as such, are always actively engaged in conversations, like speaking at conferences, on issues that are important to them and the creative and media industries. Another example is that everyone is expected to represent the business by blogging and tweeting on behalf of the business.
  2. Honesty and transparency with our clients and prospects. If they can’t do something or they don’t think it will work they are not afraid to say so. Speed’s absolute transparency about the way they work empowers their people and is appreciated by both clients and prospects. This has caused them to be a solitary voice at times but ultimately clients and prospects respect the fact that they’re prepared to take a point of view and don’t compromise their values.
  3. Have a rigorous approach to qualifying new business. Some customers just aren’t right for your business and it’s easier to recognize that before you embark on a relationship.
  4. Clear and frequent communication builds the team. Clear channels of communication and forums to discuss information about the business, ranging from board reports, a weekly newsletter, monthly meetings and lunchtime workshops help build communication amongst the team and promotes understanding and alignment of the team.
  5. Everyone has an operational role At Speed, everyone has an operational role in one of their four teams (marketing, people, client services and creative) and a direct influence in driving its future.
  6. Don’t leave individual development to chance. Speed uses 360-degree assessments, combined with transparent objectives tied to job descriptions, to ensure that all team members are always aware of what they need to do to develop, progress and/or be promoted to the next role.

This is a great example of an established business that is leading its industry, empowering its team and delivering value for its customers.

Can you learn anything from their approach?

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