Steve Santer – Exploring the practice of design

How professionals create value with other people

This short write up on how 3 professions create value to their clients, is based solely on personal experience and not on any research beyond these interactions. It’s also based on a mere handful of professionals that I have interacted with, or observed, over the years. What is interesting is considering how they offer value and comparing them to a design practice.

These notes are written from my point of view.

Real estate

A relationship flow between Vendor and Real-estate Agent

Real Estate Agents

(From a Vendor’s point of view) Real Estate agents, the good ones anyway, seem to understand they’re in this for the long haul, and spend time and effort to understand their client and to build a relationship that may extend over decades. They realise people tend to buy multiple properties these days. Either adjusting lifestyle and moving their main residence, or perhaps a few of their clients will pick up an investment property. Which means for the agent possible multiple sales and management of investment property.

By spending time on the relationship between vendor and themselves they are achieving multiple goals:

  • High likelihood of referrals from the vendor,
  • Be the first choice in future sales from that vendor,
  • Reduce time, effort, and money chasing other clients,
  • Having gained trust with the vendor, selling and managing property is that much easier with that client.

The value the Real-estate agent adds for their client, is being the trusted person to take them through a stressful transaction, and making the process smooth and as uncomplicated as possible, thereby making it a positive experience. And the client knowing if things do go downhill at any point they have an understanding ally that will take control. If trust, empathy, and understanding is not present, the whole process will become worse for all parties; vendor, purchaser, and agent.


 

Accountant

A relationship flow between Accountant and client

Accountants

In a similar vein to how Mike Monteiro describes his lawyer[1], I could describe the 2 long term accountants I’ve had over the past 15 years : They are my allies. They advise on the best methods of dealing with issues of tax. They help structuring business accounts. They assist when you want to create a new business, partnership, or company. Or perhaps a relationship breakdown.

They handle all your business financial needs as well as personal financial affairs in my case. To do this there needs to be an incredible amount of trust between the client and the Accountant. In my experience this has happened because they have, and I have, shared stories of our lives outside of the immediate needs of accounting and business. Time was given to have a cup of tea and a chat. This builds empathy. Understanding of a greater context than accounting practices. The nature of this sort of accounting isn’t just to do your end of year taxes this year. It’s to do that and more for the foreseeable future. It’s an ongoing relationship that has mutual trust at its core.

The benefit for the accountant is similar to the benefits of the Real Estate agent mentioned above.

  • High likelihood of referrals from the client,
  • Ongoing work from the client (when doesn’t tax stop!?),
  • Processes are far easier to get through because of the mutual trust between parties,
  • Referrals mean less time and effort and money are needed chasing new clients.

Accountants like what I’ve described above add substantial value for their clients by gaining trust. From trust and establishing a relationship they will know a the greater context of their clients, and knowing them enables them to work and act in their clients’ best interest at a moments notice.
Accountants in this scenario become close colleagues for their clients, rather than an external supplier. For the accountant, it becomes an easier task to deal with ongoing clients rather than setting up new relationships with new clients, and financial / business histories of each new client being understood and considered.


 

Medical Specialist

Specialists (Medical)

The type of Specialists I’m referring to here run their own practice. They may be dermatologists, cosmetic surgeons, or eye or dental specialists. Of the 3 examples here these sort of Medical Specialists, in my experience, don’t attempt to offer any effort to establish value beyond their service. Which is why I’ve chosen to explore it here.
In many ways this profession of Medical Specialisation acts like a production service rather than a value service. Why may this be the case?

A few ideas from my experience and observation:

  • You’re paying in the vicinity of $20 — $50+ per minute to see the specialist, the last thing you want is to chat for 20 minutes about what you did on the weekend,
  • The fact they are specialists and you can only see them via referrals from GPs seems to transfer the trust you have for your GP to the specialist they have referred you on to. Though with modern GPs this trusted relationship is becoming harder (that issue is for another post),
  • The Specialist will have all the relevant information in hand based on from the referring Doctor. They know your case. Your history. What else do they need to know? They may ask a pointed question to get more insight to your case, but this is direct and relevant to the situation. It’s about the case at hand not establishing a connection.

As the diagram above indicates the value a Specialist adds to their service is the ability to solve your medical problem. It’s not in building a long term ongoing relationship, like a patient and a ‘traditional’ family GP. It’s the specialist’s ability to solve your immediate concerns.

I have had some unpleasant Specialists that seem to have forgotten patients and Specialists are the same species. Some are aloof, mumbling and whispering into their recording devices, back turned; hardly reassuring. The Specialists don’t expect, or want, either positive word-of-mouth referrals or their patients to want to come back; they’ll come back if they need to no matter what. But if they solve your potentially serious health issue then does being pleasant matter to them? Or you?


References

[1] https://creativemornings.com/talks/mike-monteiro–2/1