Understanding client’s needs can go a long way in achieving customer satisfaction

Try to understand what the client NEEDS, not just what he WANTS and you could win a client for life.

We have all heard a variant of the sentence above somewhere, but most of the time we’re so busy planning to get the clients what they want, we often forget the need behind the want. It happens even to the best of us.

I had known this piece of wisdom, unconsciously for way too long, but perhaps wasn’t acting on it for this particular client, until I had a small chat with Chakshu, one of the co-founders of GreyB.

But let me set the scene for you first.

We were working with a large patent licensor for the past few months, and have had worked on a few assignments, which they were pretty impressed with. I had a face to face meeting with the client when I visited the US and met Chakshu afterward for a quick chat.

Chakshu enquired about the details of the meeting and whether there was any other assignment they wanted us to take up. The client had a patent portfolio that they wanted to actively license out.

Here’s the snippet of the conversation that ensued.

Me: I don’t think they are ready to give us another FTE for now. (Let’s consider FTE as another project)

Chakshu: Why? Are they not happy with the work we are doing?

Me: It’s not about the work quality, they are happy with it. It’s about their revenue stream. They are in talks with few companies which have not yet taken the license. So they do not want to give more work until they start a fixed revenue stream.

Chakshu: Okay, then it means we are not helping them with what they want to achieve? And it is about our quality of work. We might be giving good claim charts, but we are not giving them what they want, i.e. license out their portfolio. Maybe we should think about it and start doing something that can help them secure a deal asap.

I thought to myself – That’s rude! We are doing good work. John* and Quinn* had appreciated us and they were happy seeing the output. That’s the job and we are doing it well. Isn’t it?

I was miffed initially. But later that evening, while reflecting on the events of the day, I realized Chakshu was right. We might be doing a good job at giving the client what they wanted, but maybe weren’t giving much emphasis to the need beyond the want. Which meant, we might not be giving them what they want.

With that epiphany, I sent a quick mail sharing with my team my plan to change the course of action. I asked them to find a list of companies that can be potential targets based on the patents of the client. Since we are big on going the extra mile, the directors agreed with the plan, and within a few days, we had the required list in hand.

We shared the suggestions with John and Quinn, who liked the suggestions and asked us to find evidence of an infringement. The claim charts were prepared, and infringement confirmed with a few targets. The client and the licensors are still in the negotiation phase, but I guess our job here was done. We were able to get the client, not just what they wanted, but what they needed and had another satisfied client for life.

And that’s a damn good thing, for sure.

Authored by: Muzammil Hassan, Manager, Infringement

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