Ever wondered what makes a good professional relationship work? Why are we prepared to walk over hot coals for some people, yet barely get up off our chairs for others? No questions are left unanswered by advertising veteran Paul Cowan in his debut book Connecting With Clients.
Written in an accessible tone, across short chapters, Cowan delivers a guidebook to navigating the challenges of commercial relationships, with content derived from empirical data, cognitive psychology, adaption-innovation theory, and personal experience from nearly a half century in the field.
“This book is a game changer for agencies and all professional service businesses. It is a truly practical, effective toolkit based on applying psychology to relationship management. Enjoyable and the ideas work,” said Stephen Woodford, CEO The Advertising Association
Connecting With Clients is perfect for those dipping their toes in the world of business for the first time, or long-standing professionals looking for a silver bullet.
Drawing on years of experience from running his own advertising agency in the 1980s and 1990s, supported by extensive formal training in psychology and psychotherapy, and almost 20 years building a specialist global consultancy, Cowan delivers an informed and scientifically-backed book which will help anyone in a professional environment build relationships that thrive.
Connecting With Clients is available worldwide including Australia at Abbeys, Amazon, Angus & Robertson, Booktopia & Dymocks. For further information on Paul, visit www.paulcowan.com.
Read on for an exclusive excerpt:
Exit Interview Your Clients. It’s Never Too Late to Get Feedback.
When you leave a company for another job, you will probably be invited to an exit interview. If your company doesn’t do this, it may be time to question their openness to feedback.
Well conducted exit interviews are always valuable.
However small, the insights are like nuggets of gold, creating the opportunity to reflect, change and improve recruitment, training, staff development, internal processes and more.1,2
When you become chief executive, why wouldn’t you want a better, happier and more profitable business?
Exit interviews work because they offer the opportunity for greater honesty,1 openness and disclosure; just like psychotherapy clients who disclose something pivotal or shocking in the final minutes of a session 3 in order to avoid feeling awkward and prevent exploration of the issue during the session itself.4,5
Educators and many healthcare organisations are aware of the unique value of an exit interview 6,7,8 .
They are increasingly interested in feedback9 and use exit interviews to assess and better manage their services.
When a client contact stops working with an agency, either because of a job or agency change, the same opportunity exists because two elements combine.
The first is that your client, freed from the need to maintain a working relationship with you or the whole agency team, can feel liberated to tell their truth more openly and clearly.
The second is that departure from the relationship provides an opportunity for reflection about the overall, long-term experience of working with you and your agency.
That client may also disclose some of the ‘corridor conversations’ and unspoken agendas within the client team or organisation; he or she may just offer advice and guidance.
An exit interview with a client should, like those with team members leaving your company, be the last of a regular pattern of feedback and check-in sessions during the period of the relationship.
There are some important aspects to consider.
Who should undertake the exit interview?
To ensure that the client is really liberated to disclose their truth, somebody who has not met the client contact or been involved with the account should lead the exit interview. To minimise bias, a neutral person is best; neutral means somebody who is not involved in the daily management of the business – the HR lead might be the ideal person. Ideally that person should be trained in interview rather than interrogation techniques.
Who should be interviewed?
Every client contact, however junior or senior, with whom your company has worked.
What format should the interview take?
Semi-structured depth interview using open-ended questions. Consider using the feedforward model as a prompt. (See – Feedback or Feedforward.)
What is the best protocol?
Every interview should, ideally, be recorded and transcribed. In the UK, a transcriber used by qualitative researchers and who can meet General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) requirements would be suitable. Interviews should be listened to and transcriptions re-read to note any bias in the interview.
Themes can be identified from effective analysis10 of a number of exit interviews. If an account is leaving the agency, then paired depth or mini-group discussions offer an effective alternative to depth interviews.
Even if your agency does not do them and is not interested, enlist HR to undertake an exit interview for you. You will learn more than others knows about the relationship despite any top-to-top contact with the senior client.
- Carvin, B. N. (2011). ‘New Strategies for Making Exit Interviews Count’. Employment Relations Today. Wiley Online Library.
- Spain, E. & Groysberg, B. (2016). ‘Making Exit Interviews Count’. Harvard Business Review. April Edition.
- Turner, S. K. (2007). ‘Changed by the Encounter: The Learning and Change that Counsellors and Psychotherapists Experience as a Result of their Work with Clients’. Thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education. University of Exeter.
- Koons, C. R. (2016). ‘How to Handle the “Doorknob Comment”’. September 27, 2016. https://www.newharbinger.com/blog/how-handle-%E2%80%9Cdoorknob-comment%E2%80%9D. Accessed on August 5, 2018.
- Termination of Counselling – Doorknob Statements. https://brainmass.com/psychology/social-psychology/termination-of-counseling-doorknob-statements-454348. Accessed on August 5, 2018.
- Bell, R. L. Blair, L. M. Crawford, B. A. Lederman, N. L. (2003). ‘Just Do It? Impact of a Science Apprenticeship Program on High School Students’ Understandings of the Nature of Science and Scientific Inquiry’. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 40:5, 487–509.
- Lee, R. D (1991). ‘The Use of Exit Interviews in Masters’ Programs of Public Affairs and Administration’. The American Review of Public Administration. 21:3, 183-195.
- Doll, P. A. & Jacobs, K.W. (1988). ‘The Exit Interview for Graduating Seniors’. Teaching of Psychology, 15:4, 213-214.
- Elkahtib, Z. (2018). ‘Patients’ satisfaction with the non-communicable diseases services provided at UNRWA health centres in Gaza governorates: a cross-sectional study’. The Lancet. 391.
- Patton, M. Q (1980). Qualitative Evaluation Methods. Sage Publications Inc. Newbury Park, CA.