The Commitment Matrix for Service, Sales and Persuasion
You know when you go to Starbucks, or The Dome Café, or Caffissimo and they provide you with a loyalty card? If you purchase 10 coffees, then you get a free one. So (if you’re a coffee/tea/hot chocolate drinker) you stuff the card (or cards, if you visit multiple providers) into your wallet or purse and pull it out dutifully every time you visit so that you can get that free one.
If you’re Scottish, you probably walk an extra mile or so to the nearest Dome so that you can get that free 1/11 of a coffee. (I am part Scottish. Connect the dots …) Of course, if the coffee tastes like dirty tap water with a bit of mud thrown in, you won’t be likely to worry about that loyalty card. Likewise, if the service is abominable, you will have no deal, no loyalty, no commitment to that coffee shop as your favoured beverage haunt.
Ramp it up to a higher value item, say buying a new car. Do you continually go to the same dealer for a new car every time, or do you change needs, desires and the car seller you go to? How do you decide which one is better or best? What would influence you to keep coming back and even to refer others? How do you develop the commitment?
Providing a professional service may be in between the coffee card and the new car, or it may even be greater, but working with the client’s loyalty and commitment to following through requires more than a loyalty card – it requires reasoning through the benefits and the emotional impact of the ongoing relationship, proposal or solution and then providing the value.
We interviewed numerous clients of Professional Services providers in Western Australia - from happy clients through to clients who had not accepted proposals through to ex-clients who hated their former providers. We found, among other factors, that clients frequently will comment on wanting to come back because a particular professional was not only excellent, proactive and insightful, but very responsive, made life easy and attended to them individually as high priorities. On the other hand, if there were problems and they were not resolved, with the client feeling that they had not been treated as well as possible, then there were a lot of hard feelings, no matter whether the problem had been technically corrected.
It was this combination of both rational and emotional reasons that made clients committed, or influenced them to remain or return to a provider's services.
In professional service and sales, loyalty is based upon the standard and value of the product provided – time and again – to a client AND to how connected they feel as clients, how clear communication is, responsiveness, proactivity, shared values, how much you are acting in the client’s best interests and whether problems are resolved quickly and effectively.
The same is also true of leadership and persuasion - your ability to influence people both rationally and emotionally is a powerful predictor of their commitment.
The level and value of the work you provide should both match the level of current client commitment as well as progressively move them towards greater levels of commitment as time, need and opportunity dictate.
My Commitment Matrix™ demonstrates how differing levels of commitment may be identified:
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Let's take the accounting profession as an example: Someone only lodging an individual tax return with an accountant might only be in the high logic, low emotion quadrant. Same if they are just doing their business’ returns or Business Activity Statement. Another might be a teen crush, who initially met briefly with you, was excited and said that doing quarterly management meetings sounded great, but quickly turned off the idea. Now, the crush may be all the accountant needs for a quick one-off service – but if it’s longer term, they will need greater involvement.
Seeing a need in their business and/or personal finances for a broader and deeper range of services, the accountant may want to move them slowly up to the upper right quadrant by emphasising either the logical or the emotional.
In another situation, a client may be in the upper right quadrant – a committed long-term buyer – but they begin to sour due to bad experiences, or perhaps they start to see a decrease of value of your service. Beware that, at this point, they may be turning away into one of the lower levels of commitment.
Let's take another example: You wish to initiate a major change in your organisation. Without addressing both the intellectual and emotional reasons for and against change, you are only going to generate more shallow levels of commitment. If you wish to gain long-term agreement and long-term you must emphasise BOTH logic and emotion. In your communications and your planning, you need to take both into account.
The IT giant, Apple, has realised this in all of its design, marketing, hiring and customer support. Both factors are critical in creating committed disciples. And don't Apple fans sometimes act like they have had a religious experience with their iPhone or iPad?
You need to work with your people to keep them committed. And that comes down to your personal interactions – observing, listening, connecting with them on multiple levels - being consistent and targeted in all facets of your leadership, service and organisation.
Reflect on 2-3 of your more significant stakeholders:
The Commitment Matrix is a valuable tool for analysing your clients, people and stakeholders. Remember that for someone to remain thoughtfully loyal over the long term, they need to have all of their psyche engaged and fired up to be committed.
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