If you haven’t heard about Eco’s Individual Development Plan (IDP), it’s an opportunity for each employee to identify areas where we’d like to grow and improve, and then create a plan to get there. This past week, my Individual Development Plan took me to Barcelona, Spain for a customer conference.
Not only was it great to meet with customers, learn more about how to help them, and explore Spain, but I also made progress on my IDP goals. A few of the goals were to spend more time in conversations with customers and seek more opportunities to lead meetings.
I had some time on my nine hour flight back to Washington, D.C. to reflect on my goals. I learned a lot, but especially witnessed the impact of the following:
1. Understanding Customers’ Obstacles
I met with one customer who was a manager of a region that wasn’t using our services to their full potential. I knew the region could receive greater benefit from the services, so I wanted to find out why they were holding back. Solving the manager’s challenges meant providing better service to his whole team, as well. We had a great, honest conversation, where we discussed how his challenges could be addressed more thoroughly with our services. Neither of us had a specific agenda or rigid outcomes. Instead, we worked together to organically identify the problem and create a plan that would accomplish his goals.
2. Face-to-Face Communication
One of my most rewarding experiences at the conference was watching my customers’ “aha” moments unfold before my eyes. Often, immediately after I explained new features of the services to them, they would pause. Then I’d see a click as they started to see how it would help them make value clear. Face-to-face communication isn’t always possible with customers, but it’s a powerful and effective option when available.
3. Information Sharing in Groups
I was leading a demo in one of the conference sessions, and a customer I’d worked with for quite a while was in the audience. Suddenly, the customer (who had become a raving fan), stood up to speak. He explained the benefits of our services to the rest of the group from his own experience. As a result of the customer’s strong relationships with his peers in the audience, he knew how to communicate benefits of our services in a way that resonated with them.
At another point in the conference, an executive at our client company stood up in a group session and talked about our services. She shared that people who work with the Value Management Office (VMO) stand out from the competition and that our work can positively impact everyone’s jobs.
Traveling to Spain as part of my IDP and building relationships with my customers was an incredible experience. With each interaction, I felt a renewed passion for what I do every day. Building authentic, high-impact relationships with my customers is essential, and I’m proud to work for a company that aims to create a raving fan in every interaction.