Being Client-First and Addressing Client Needs in Market Research in a Sustainable Way

Apr 10, 2024

To truly address client needs in the market research industry, we have to be client-first. After all, client relationships are the lifeblood of the business, and keeping clients happy is critical. However, constantly putting clients first can also lead to burnout for researchers. So, how can market research professionals be client-focused in a sustainable, long-term way without compromising their own well-being?  

Isabelle Landreville of Sylvestre & Co. and Joseph Chen of Leo & Dragon discussed that topic on this episode of "Insightful Inspiration." We'll look at the meaning of "client-first," strategies for building strong client relationships, the role of owning your own business, and advice for mentoring the next generation of researchers.    

Defining "Client-First"    

For Joseph, being client-first is all about deeply understanding the client. As he explains, this involves grasping:  

  • The client's business holistically
  • Their corporate culture  
  • The key decision-makers and relationships  

He aims to enjoy working with clients and become their true business partners.  

Isabelle agrees wholeheartedly – she gets up every morning with the "privilege" of doing work she loves for clients. Her role is to support clients, help them shine, and never say no.    

Strategies for Building Strong Client Relationships

Both emphasize that people buy from people. Relationships are central. Joseph starts connecting through his network of contacts. He gravitates to those he knows and has existing relationships with.    

From there, he focuses on understanding client motivations and aspirations at a personal level. This helps him craft research projects and recommendations tailored to clients' goals and decision-making culture. Frequent check-ins keep clients involved through the process rather than surprising them at the end.      

Isabelle strives to show up for relationship moments that matter, never assuming or taking things for granted. She stays on top of clients' business context and personnel moves that may affect priorities. Her long history with some clients provides helpful shorthand communication, but she keeps asking questions and listens intently rather than making assumptions.  

Both leverage technology like texts and video calls for more seamless, spontaneous communication to deepen bonds. And they aim to exceed expectations - to "wow" clients at the finale with compelling deliverables. Joseph loves seeing the spark of delight in clients' eyes.    

Owning Your Own Business

After years on the client side, Joseph founded the research consultancy Leo & Dragon. Isabelle has run Sylvestre & Co. for close to 10 years. Both see advantages to owning their businesses when it comes to sustainably putting clients first.    

Owning her company, Isabelle feels "freer" to truly focus on clients as her top priority. She decides when and how to engage. Joseph also gains more control of his schedule and workload. Without other competing priorities, he can stay laser focused on serving clients with flexibility to adapt quickly.  

They also mention having a supportive partner as key to finding work/life balance. Isabelle promised her husband she won't work weekends and hasn’t in 14 years. Joseph admits his partner wishes he'd work less and is still learning to achieve a greater balance between his personal and professional realms.    

Mentoring the Next Generation

With a passion for client relationships, how do these leaders instill the same drive in younger researchers on their teams?    

Joseph talks about the critical contextual understanding – without clients, there is no business. Researchers need to invest significant time because buyers have endless options today. Given the chance to work with a client, nurture that relationship with consistent care and attention.    

Isabelle emphasizes what a privilege it is to do this work. Clients provide opportunities to do what researchers love. Approach each one as valuable. She pushes herself to keep proving her capabilities even now, never resting on laurels. After decades in market research, Isabelle listens and waits to hear clients' needs.    

Final thoughts  

Client relationships stand at the core of successful market research. Market research professionals create tremendous value by understanding decision-makers deeply, focusing fully on their goals, and elevating their brands through insights. When researchers feel integral to clients’ business wins, the work ignites their passion intrinsically.

Still, no one can sustain boundless energy and effort long-term without balancing key needs. Savvy leaders preserve enthusiasm by establishing personal life boundaries, owning their destinies, mentoring future generations, and forging genuine partnerships.

With technology dissolving distance and speeding up communication, client-centricity becomes easier to maintain, but yet, there needs to be a balance with less rushing and more listening to meet their needs truly.

With the right equilibrium, client first and researcher wellness become one philosophy. And those who live this maxim leave the most meaningful impact on their clients, teams, and industry over the long run.

Being Client-First and Addressing Client Needs in Market Research in a Sustainable Way

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