Client satisfaction, customer orientation, customer relationship management and so on are very clear and common sense concepts for me. You don’t have to overthink it, you have your client and your only purpose is to make his/her life better. Be it with optimisation, be it with project management, be it advice only maybe, what have you, the main idea is to respect your client and be aware of his/her needs. I like to say you must love your client (not in a romantic way, obviously) and put him/her first.
Why I’m saying that … I keep hearing around me consultants gossiping about the client. I am not talking about gossiping on the high heels of the client’s PR (yes, you’ve all done it), I mean gossip on the client’s business skills and overall capability. Which I completely disagree with. The questions that immediately come to mind are: how can you work with/for someone you have no respect for? What kind of relationship do you have with them? How honest are you about your advice if you actually don’t appreciate the people you work with/for?
In service business this becomes an acute problem from my point of view. You must absolutely respect your customer. Yes, some of them are hard to handle, stubborn and hard to work with but your job is to respect them. Maybe you won’t love them, but respect them and your relationship with them. If that’s not there and they’re not good enough for your respect but good enough to pay you, then that says a lot about your character as a person. And that’s not a person I would like to work with.
Think of it like a marriage: would you criticise your spouse to the people outside of your household?
If you can’t respect your clients, you are obviously in the wrong position/business. Move on!