I recently walked a mile in our clients’ shoes, and it was very enlightening.
The adage to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” speaks to the simple truth that it’s valuable to embrace opportunities that shift our perspective. I recently had such an opportunity, and it enabled me to gain some valuable insights to incorporate in our project management approach.
Earlier this year, The Olinger Group designed, managed, and released the U.S. Luxury Travelers Study 2022. Our objective was to create a definitive profile or portrait of American luxury travelers that includes who they are, how they feel about luxury, and which luxury brands they know and prefer. (See Jude’s blog for more on that.)
This time, we were our own client. We had a chance to walk in brand-new shoes.
My goal as head of project management here at The Olinger Group is to make every client’s journey from Question to Answer as positive, enjoyable, and easy as possible. Now I have an even greater understanding of how to do that.
Really, it boils down to having greater empathy for the client’s enthusiasm. This is their project. Their ‘baby.’
Most have already invested time, energy, and forethought into how they envision their study. They have a team, or other stakeholders counting on tight, actionable results. So, there are bound to be requests to bring in sideline objectives, ‘get some additional color,’ ‘dive a little deeper,’ or ‘just add a few more questions’, etc.…
I get it. I felt the exact same way when it was ‘our baby.’
So how, exactly, did the experience change me? Here are a few examples:
- Celebrate and lean into a client’s “research enthusiasm.” Keeping projects ‘in scope’ doesn’t’ mean we need to be “Nay Sayers” and dampen enthusiasm.
- Use objectives as the ‘carrot’ and not the ‘stick’. Appeal to the client’s desire to prioritize the most important and actionable items; do not act as a blockade to keep all other content out.
- Offer attractive alternatives that give clients something to be excited about. For example, we may not be able to offer coded open-end insights, but maybe we can incorporate word clouds or other options for additional flavor.
Bottom line – I have more empathy for our clients’ situation and have pushed myself and my team to work harder to celebrate and maintain the clients’ enthusiasm. In fact, our most successful outcomes come from clients who are heavily engaged and who have a real enthusiasm for the research process.
The difference is almost palpable. It’s like having a trail guide who walks with your group on the trail versus one that simply hands you the map and send you on your way.
Now I walk with my clients. So, grab your high-end hiking boots, and let’s go!
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