The Professionalism Committee of QRCA gives a presentation each year at the conference and this year rather than a more high level discussion of professionalism, I chose to study what constitutes professional behavior in the minds of clients vs. suppliers.
This was an identical survey to the supplier side on-line survey. It was given so attendees would have a personal assessment to compare with the findings of the study.
What surprised me was how far this study went around the world with the help of social media, in particular LinkedIn.
I was quite surprised at the enthusiasm for the topic. Each question had a space for comments which we not required to move to the next question. The client side alone generated 11 pages of single-spaced comments. Plus 34 for the supplier side. I was also pleased and surprised how many people who I did not know requested the findings and took the time to write a personal note about their appreciation for the topic being researched. I had hypothesized that younger respondents would differ in their opinions from older respondents. Though the sample for those with five or less years of experience, they were split in their opinions and perceptions amongst each other and it wasn’t possible to make a generalization about the younger sample.
A slightly higher percentage of suppliers say professionalism has gone down dramatically while a higher percentage of clients said professionalism has gone down moderately in their career.
These were a few key comments from clients for each question.
Before I share the results of this question, let me share with you my belief was that not only the internet but that Jerry Springer is responsible for unleashing society’s acceptance of bad behavior.
Clients believed that the internet has hindered communication in business more so than suppliers. Though I forced a yes-no response which frustrated some respondents, I did it intentionally to force a discussion. And it worked. I received lots of comments about this question.
Both groups are in agreement and most think carelessness is unacceptable and can leave a negative first impression. Has my husband says, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”.
Again, clients and suppliers agree this type of behavior is inexcusable!
All comments are from clients.
This was a three part question and the results surprised me!
Clients are a little more forgiving about timeliness, especially if they’re alerted ahead of time and more so about costs because they are aware the client’s requests and changes are often the cause of increased costs. However there is NO room for error according to the clients which differs slightly from the suppliers’ viewpoints. The key is suppliers don’t know which side of the fence their client is sitting on.
Suppliers have higher standards for themselves than do clients in this area. However there is a line that once crossed is not easily recovered.
Much to my surprise, clients are very understanding that research suppliers travel a lot and have built up perks. Many don’t envy the travel suppliers have to do and understand they have earned the perks. Again, you may not know how your client feels about this, so err on the side of generosity.
Suppliers were harder on themselves than clients and a significant number of suppliers felt this was very important versus clients. Do note that NO ONE thought this was not at all important and only 3% in each group thought it was not very important.
Professionalism: Has technology changed what clients expect?
Professionalism:Has technology changed what clients expect? What You Need to Know to Build Business Success! Presented by Diane M. Harris D. M. Harris Associates
Our time together How this topic arose You’ll take the short survey Explain the research conducted Findings of research conducted with clients & suppliers; data and qualitative Tips to improve how clients view you as a professionalJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 2
Professionalism Professionalism Committee’s annual presentation Change it up and get more practical My personal observation over my career We’ve gotten more casual Was it because of the speed of business? The Internet? Or just what?June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 3
About the research Did Qualitative prior to Quantitative Sources of respondents – not random My clients, QRCA friends and their clients LinkedIn – nine different groups Responses from around the world Asia, Romania, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and CanadaJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 5
About the survey 244 responses 59 clients and research buyers (55 actual qualitative research buyers) 185 research suppliers 45 pages of comments! Many e-mailed or left appreciative comments Hypothesized younger would react differently I was wrongJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 6
How much has the face of professionalism changed throughout your career? Jack WelchJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 7
Supplier Viewpoint 13.5% 44.9% 26.5% 10.8% 4.3%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 8
Client viewpoint 11.9% 52.5% 20.3% 8.5% 6.8%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 9
Comments It seems like time & money is an excuse to forget professionalism People are more casual now, which isn’t always good Expectations of instant response have led to communication without critical thinking “Formalism” has changed, but not professionalismJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 10
This was my hypothesisthat the Internet was the cause So this was a key question
With the inception of the Internet, has the increased informality in communication been a help or a hindrance to professionalism in our work society?June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 12
I blame Jerry SpringerJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 13
He gave the green light for bad behavior to be acceptableJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 14
Supplier Viewpoint 49.7% 50.3%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 15
Client viewpoint 39% 61%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 16
Comments I appreciate the more efficient information transfer . . . More details come faster When done properly, the informality invites engagement, but the lack of discipline has hindered quality of thinking and quality of communication It can tend to not be respectful of another’s time/schedule, is interruptive and undermines professional presentation.June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 17
If you receive writtencorrespondence from a supplier thathas typos, text/Internet abbreviationsor incomplete sentences, does thataffect your decisionto do businesswith them?June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 18
Supplier Viewpoint 89.2% 10.8%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 19
Client viewpoint 89.8% 10.2%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 20
Comments Demonstrates sloppiness, a lack of thoroughness and commitment If I KNOW them, I can forgive some typing errors. If I DON’T know them, typos can cast a bad impression Mrs. Roland is still whispering in my ear that “your writing is a reflection of your competence.” I believe it!June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 21
Tips for You Type e-mail like a business letter Keep it short and simple Don’t just use spell check; proofread it Don’t send an e-mail when angry Don’t send anything confidential via e-mailJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 22
When having a face-to-faceconversation with a businessassociate or supplier and theytake a cell phone call that isnot an emergency or textduring your conversation,does this affect yourimpression of theirprofessionalism ina negative way?June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 23
Supplier Viewpoint 96.8% 3.2%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 24
Client viewpoint 96.6% 3.4%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 25
Comments That would be the last conversation I had with them When you are in the meeting, you are IN the meeting It tells me they don’t have good manners and I’m not important to them I’ll ask the person to leave the meeting Non-urgent calls are unforgivable, but it’s important to be flexible and allow urgent callsJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 26
Tips for You Be ALL there Keep it private Learn to vibe Alert them if expecting an urgent call; excuse yourselfJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 27
If the following business actions occurred,would it affect your decision to dobusiness again with a supplier? Deliverables and deadlines were not on time Costs were +10% higher than bid Quality of deliverables did not meet your expectationsJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 28
Supplier Viewpoint 2.2% 21.4% 3.2% 97.8% 78.6% 96.8% Deliverables Costs QualityJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 29
Client viewpoint 8.5% 23.7% 91.5% 76.3% 100% Deliverables Costs QualityJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 30
Comments If a study runs long, the recruit more difficult, etc. first check then add 10% is okay, but deadlines and especially work quality is not negotiable. Sometimes higher costs are justified by client actions Higher costs I can live with as long as I’m informed while the study is going on and given optionsJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 31
Tips for You Keep your word; Integrity, integrity, integrity No surprises, inform client of changes before the fact Return phone calls and e-mails promptly Take ownership and responsibility for your work You don’t know if your client will be the forgiving type, so strive for 100% on time, on budget.June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 32
How important is the appropriateness of a supplier’s clothing attire and grooming in your decision-making about what supplier to use?June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 33
Supplier Viewpoint 28.1% 57.3% 14.1% 0.5%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 34
Client viewpoint 18.6% 52.5% 25.4% 3.4%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 35
Comments Don’t smell bad or have dirty fingernails First impressions mean something. They don’t need to come in a suit and tie but they need to look neat and know what they are talking about. I consider it very demeaning if the supplier is not appropriately dressed “executional distractions” are not helpful, if all else is equal, then certainly the one with fewer wardrobe malfunctions would get the business.June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 36
Tips for You You are a brand; anchor yourself in a stable image Business casual; think business first, casual second Dress for the job you want Err on the side of formality Mirror or better the client’s dress code Invest in quality not quantity; shoes, pens, briefcase, handbag Showing up unshaven, wet hair etc. signals unorganized, lazy or lack of respectJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 37
If you travel by air and the supplier upgrades to first class because theyhave a premier frequent flier status and you sit in coach, does that affect your impression negatively of them? June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 38
Supplier Viewpoint 68.1% 31.9%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 39
Client viewpoint 27.1% 72.9%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 40
Comments It shouldn’t matter but it does It would be nice to have the time to discuss business, but I wouldn’t begrudge them the upgrade I would love it if they would offer me their seat or to switch halfway; nice and professional gesture Personal manners count Good for them!June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 41
Tips for You Think of the relationship first You don’t know which viewpoint your client might have Err on the side of generosity (who is paying the bill) Use your judgmentJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 42
How important is a person’s etiquette in your decision-making about what supplier to use?June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 43
Supplier Viewpoint 50.3% 45.9 3.8%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 44
Client viewpoint 39.0% 57.6% 3.4%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 45
Comments You have to sell yourself! You are the product you are selling. I will not do business with a slob no matter how good the person is It’s very important that a vendor know how to conduct or participate in a meeting, e.g. weirdness is a death-knell Similarly to clothing, if it were really bad, it would make me wonder about themJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 46
Tips for You Dining & Entertaining Go with what you know Choose table in advance Settle the bill early Talk business later Don’t order food that’s hard to chew or cut Don’t overindulge in food or drink The guest orders first All guests should be served before eatingJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 47
Formal Dinner Place Setting 1. Napkin 6. Dinner Plate 11. Butter Knife 2. Fish Fork 7. Dinner Knife 12. Desert silverware 3. Main Course Fork 8. Fish Knife 13. Water Glass 4. Salad Fork* 9. Soup Spoon 14. Red Wine Glass 5. Soup Bowl and 10. Bread and Butter 15. White Wine Glass Plate PlateJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 48
Tips for You Proper etiquette Ask open-ended questions Don’t start sentences with “I” continuously Send a thank you note, hand-written Don’t interrupt Profanity=less about the language and more about caring about others Ask, “May I give you my card?”June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 49
Client Respondent Information 93.2% 6.8%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 50
Supplier’s work experience 1.1% 8.6% 8.1% 82.2%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 51
Client’s work experience 5.1% 10.2% 18.6% 66.1%June 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 52
Let’s be PROS Put others first Relationships are the key to success On your honor, on time and on budget Show respect for yourself, it instantly shows respect for othersJune 5, 2012 D. M. Harris Associates 53
Thank you! Diane M. Harris D. M. Harris Associatesdmharris@zoomInternet.net