Why is it, Ford R. Myers asked himself, that my company can deliver jobs of equal quality to two clients, and one thinks we're great while the other never wants to deal with us again?

Myers concluded that Ford Myers & Co., located in Haverford, Pennsylvania, could better serve its clients by tailoring its operating style to each individual client's expectations. Now he culls a customer profile from a one-page list of questions that he asks all clients. Getting the information for the profile takes Myers only about 15 minutes per customer. He briefs the staff on every new client and staples the typed profile to the job folder so everyone involved can easily refer to it.

The questions try to ascertain procedural ground rules: On the project's satisfactory completion, will you require a detailed itemization of costs, or will our invoice be adequate? And they attempt to set priorities: Which is of paramount importance to your company--scheduling and budget, or innovation and creativity?

Afterward, Myers often likes to chat informally with the client. When asked which is more important, maximum quality or staying within budget, many clients will say both, but Myers' probing often reveals a distinct preference for one or the other. "I believe every client has one real primary concern," says Myers.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing