Powills: Don't be Afraid of Answers You Don't Want to Hear
Powills: Don't be Afraid of Answers You Don't Want to Hear

Anyone who knows me knows that I am on a personal mission to create the greatest communications agency that ever existed — and that I will stop at nothing to find the secret sauce to the ultimate relationship, service and results model.

Sure, there is an incredibly high amount of stiff competitio.....

Anyone who knows me knows that I am on a personal mission to create the greatest communications agency that ever existed — and that I will stop at nothing to find the secret sauce to the ultimate relationship, service and results model.

Sure, there is an incredibly high amount of stiff competition. However, when you dream big, big things happen.

I am constantly exploring adjustments — changes — that will ultimately enhance the client experience and the careers of my incredible team. Each adjustment is an attempt at taking another step toward greatness. Some of those adjustments succeed, while many fail.

Each December, I sit quietly for a while (a while for me is sometimes only 15 minutes) and think about the past year. This event typically happens on an airplane. I reflect on what went right and what went wrong. This year, I had a personal “Aha!” moment while deep in reflection. I determined that I often create my own conclusions without any real data.

I can certainly measure results — both for the client and for the agency. And I have a clear understanding about how I feel and my satisfaction levels. Yet, I don’t know our agency’s net promoter score. I don’t know exactly how our customers rank us, feel about us and validate for us.

In January, I decided it was time to find out.

During our agency’s first leadership meeting of the year, I announced this plan. We were going to ask our clients to rank us on a scale of 1–10 and be ready for answers we did not want to hear.

“What if we get a really bad score and this gives our clients the chance to rehash frustration,” asked one of our leaders.

“That’s O.K.,” I responded. “I would rather know than be blindsided. And, so long as they are our client — then, they are still our client.”

I knew everything wasn’t going to be rosy. How could it be? As a P.R. firm, there is no set path to happiness. There is also no set way to achieve results. Different stories ignite different media placements. And, different sales processes net different sales. We can’t do the same thing the same way for different people. Our hats have an adjustable bracket on the back.

Some of our staff were fearful that the answers would put them in a corner they could not climb out of. If that were the case, then I knew we had to make adjustments to our service.

As we ventured into our grade calls, about 75 percent were willing to score us on relationship, service and results right off the bat. The other 25 percent wanted to think about it.

Asking the tough questions will sometimes produce tough answers. That’s a risk you have to be willing to take. When you take that risk, the data provided will help guide you to a better future answer.

I know our agency isn’t perfect (yet). And, I knew this exercise would help me formulate new, creative approaches to how we do business. I know that perfecting the model for everyone seems naïve, but if we are going to be the greatest agency that ever existed, we are going to have to fight that battle.

The data wasn’t perfect this time, but we now know what baby steps we can take to ensure better relationship, service and results in the future. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from our client’s responses — but I’m glad I know now. This way, come December, I have a clear path toward feeling one inch better than I did in 2013. That’s called winning.

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