Though we don't say it, it's easy to think that our organizations could be running really effectively and efficiently if it wasn't for those pesky customers of ours. As creative SERVICES professionals, it's helpful to occasionally step back and ask, "how well are we SERVING our customers?" That question can only be answered if we look carefully at what services our customers need and how effectively we are meeting those needs.
Are our customers, and potential customers, aware of all the services we offer? We may be doing product brochures and sell sheets for a customer who is not aware of our video and web offerings. Raising their awareness could lead to more tightly integrated cross-channel communications with your ultimate corporate customer and bottom-line improvements for your internal customer.
Do we help our customers understand which projects might be more effective by including some creative consulting? Sometimes customers know exactly what they need for effective communication. But, we know sometimes projects are done because, "that's the way we always do it." If we can identify those opportunities we can add strategic consulting services that will enhance our customers' projects and improve their effectiveness. The trick is to be sure we understand when it's truly the right thing to do.
Are we clearly communicating the customer's responsibilities? Have you ever had a project fall behind schedule because you couldn't get the customer's review and approval, or had a customer make a major change at the last minute? If you have, are you sure the expectations for the customer were clearly communicated and understood at the beginning of the project? Our customers are professionals, but not creative services professionals. They don't necessarily understand the effect their delays and changes may have on the ability to deliver a project on time. If these expectations have been clearly communicated and agreed upon, then, shame on them. But, if these expectations haven't been communicated, well ...........
Are we communicating schedules and delivering "on time and on target?" When you strip away everything else, providing excellent service means meeting schedules, meeting budgets, and hitting the creative target. Anything else is unacceptable. We expect this when we get our cars serviced, and we expect it when we order something from Amazon. Those are service organizations also and are measured on how well they meet the true needs of the customer. Are we so different?
The most basic question is why we exist as an organization. An excellent creative services organization meets its customers' needs, even the ones they don't know they have. It adds value in everything it does. It makes its customers successful. It builds and protects the corporate identity and, in the end, enhances the corporate bottom line.