Put clients first and you’re on course for a successful business

Many business leaders are in planning mode at the moment, determining organisational goals and making plans to achieve these. Marketing and communications can play a vital role, but only if properly aligned with these goals and performance is carefully monitored, so it’s clear what’s working. Often organisations rush into activity without being clear on how this supports their organisational goals or how they will measure success. This leads to resources being wasted and potential impact lost.

As the leader of a communications consultancy focused on helping clients achieve their organisational goals through the impact of our activity, this is top of mind for me. We spend a lot of time understanding clients’ goals and delivering activity that supports these. We also undertake research on behalf of clients on many topics, from customer and employee satisfaction and engagement to competitor analysis. All of which is directed towards improving future efforts by identifying gaps and opportunities and nimbly acting on these. Checking results regularly not only demonstrates impact, but also allows for incremental improvements which supercharge success.

While it’s a bit scary and uncomfortable to take our own medicine at times, at Perceptive we regularly undertake research with our clients to understand how we are doing as a business and, yes, how we can improve. We do this through both qualitative and quantitative research undertaken independently and anonymously. This independence removes a rose tinted filter that, while well intended, can sometimes obscure the real picture and so miss opportunities for improvement.

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Like many other businesses, we have been operating against the backdrop of COVID and the hangover of lockdown, so I have to be honest and say that I had approached this research with more than a little trepidation. This is our seventeenth year in business, and the last few without doubt have been the ones with the most highs and lows. In 2022 we did brilliant PR, social media, marketing, digital and public affairs work with our clients in science, technology and the built environment and won a hat trick of awards. These achievements would have been great at any time, but were especially sweet after the last few years. However, given the economic climate, the change to hybrid working, which has meant less face to face client contact, and the general sense of uncertainty, meant that client research on our work and service was still a daunting prospect.

Julie Moulsdale, managing director at Glasgow-based Perceptive Communicators.Julie Moulsdale, managing director at Glasgow-based Perceptive Communicators.
Julie Moulsdale, managing director at Glasgow-based Perceptive Communicators.

We researched several areas, including client perceptions of our support and their propensity to recommend Perceptive, often known as the net promoter score. Clients told us they particularly liked our unusual approach of specialising in just a few sectors. They said this meant we had much deeper sector knowledge, and a wider circle of senior industry connections, so were able to deliver better results and provide unique influencing opportunities, all of which were key in supporting their goals. They also told us that our approach of Perceptive having a more senior expert team, all of whom had been clients themselves meant that we understood their perspective more, so hit the ground running, delivering better results more quickly. They also said we very quickly became an extension of their team and managed to convince even the most sceptical of colleagues. The icing on the cake was clients giving us a net promoter rating of +91, higher than successful brands like Apple, Amazon and John Lewis.

This is a fantastic achievement, but at Perceptive continuous improvement is in our DNA. Communications can be tricky to measure, but this year we will be working with our clients to be even clearer on their goals and ensure that all our efforts are supporting these. Importantly we will also put more measures in place, so we can quickly see PR, social media, digital, marketing and public affairs efforts are working most effectively. This will avoid wasted efforts, make the most of precious resources and most importantly, maximise the desired impact on our clients’ goals.

Julie Moulsdale is Managing Director at Perceptive Communicators

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