“How can we be a better partner?”
That was the question a client recently asked me. And it struck a chord.
When clients ask how to be better partners, they could be acknowledging that they are failing to hold up their end of an agreement in some way, or it could be a sign of misaligned interests. They might be thinking, “We like you, but something is not working as well as we expect.” It’s now up to the FinTech provider to find out where expectations aren’t in sync and work in partnership with the client to remedy the situation.
A misaligned relationship can start with a partnership stuck in limbo and escalate into finger pointing and severed ties. Neither party wins in these examples:
- False confidence: The client may give the FinTech provider high marks on customer satisfaction surveys, but good satisfaction scores only represent table stakes in building a long-term relationship. They signify a job well done, but they do not necessarily connote client loyalty.
- Reactive action: The client is looking for a trusted advisor who is proactive, but the provider acts as a hired expert for a particular project. The provider responds to requests but does not anticipate needs of the customer. As a result, the client is not as likely to share future plans or even current frustrations.
In sharp contrast, the desired state from the FinTech provider’s view is to build sufficient trust to be the first and only choice in the consideration set for additional engagements.
The desired state from the client perspective depends upon the parameters they set for interactions with the provider. On one hand, the client may only want a value-added supplier. Alternatively, they may want a trusted advisor –one that anticipates their needs for solutions that reduce the time, money and risk associated with launching new products, for example. Not everyone wants a trusted advisor and that’s okay, as long as there is mutual understanding of where on the model they will align.
A signed agreement initially moves the provider into the role of a hired expert. As the relationship develops, the goal is for the client and provider to move up the scale in sync to the point where the client reaches their desired state. Optimally, the provider views the client as a partner and the client sees the provider as a trusted advisor.
A successful partnership is bi-directional and both parties have a vested interest in optimizing the relationship. This happens over time, aided by continuous attention and constructive dialogs. The client’s expectation for the provider to deliver on the promise set forth in the agreement must be met – this is table stakes but not enough to cement a partnership. To move to the next level, at FIS, we employ what we call TLC – teach, learn and challenge – with our clients. To get more from your FinTech provider ask yourself:
- Teach: Does your provider demonstrate listening skills and provide useful information to drive better results?
- Learn: Does your provider gain a deeper understanding of your needs to more readily identify a solution through active listening?
- Challenge: Does your provider foster a foundational relationship that respectfully facilitates challenging one another to yield the best outcome?
Where on the graph would you plot your relationships?