Research agencies are quick to proclaim what they can offer clients. But how often do they reflect and act on what clients really value and need from them?

In this fast paced digital age the same essential truth remains constant. Information is only as incisive and effective as the questions being asked of it. Clients expect their research providers to deliver not just reports, but to harness and decipher the key information that could be the game changer for their business.

The work doesn’t just stop at debrief – rather than just as a project that is seen as a transaction, clients want an agency with skills to transform their business and act as trusted advisors. Clients are looking at ways that agencies can add value and provide the appropriate outcomes rather than just an input of data and conclusion.

Consistency and reliability with an awareness of time sensitivity are key factors. Agencies must earn credibility in the quality of their work and by displaying clearly their technical abilities. But credibility is earned also by developing a strong awareness of what each client needs by understanding their business at all levels. Customize outputs for how clients will use them. Appreciate and become experts in their sector by constantly striving to evaluate the macro and micro environment they operate in.

Focus, flexibility and foresight. Clients need agencies that can focus in on what they really need and ask the right questions. They are time poor and their research partners need to be right on track the first time. Demonstrate and understand that every client is unique and be prepared to be flexible and adapt to provide the very best outcomes. Be proactive and be prepared to think outside the box.

Clients want insight with foresight to create special brands. Be innovative, embrace change and be prepared to take risks to empower clients, their decision making and goals. Show and don’t just tell. Demonstrate that you offer an exceptional service and display real value not just in execution but in the budget.

Despite the many benefits of the digital age, clients still want these time honoured core essentials from their researchers. Be available, be accessible and be responsive. Strive to provide the personal contact and nurture relationships which are vital to long term collaboration, prosperity and success for both parties. Build and maintain client trust.

Be honest and be rigorous in a self-assessment of your team capability. Do you possess the right skill sets and how do they mesh with your clients’ needs? Encourage and generate regular feedback from both sides to engage open and constructive communication. Remember clients view each and every member of your team as an ambassador for your brand.

Above all, never underestimate the power of really listening to your clients.

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