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Passion, People and Principles

Implementing a Client Service Strategy

post # 465 — November 13, 2007 — a Client Relations, Strategy and the Fat Smoker post

One of the most common topics I am asked to advise on is achieving distinctively high levels of client service. I find that many firms underestimate how tough a diet and exercise program (see STRATEGY AND THE FAT SMOKER) it would really take to pull this off.

Among the changes that most firms would need to make are:

  1. Adopting a culture that no longer allows people to “opt out” on the topic of client service excellence on the grounds that their skills lie elsewhere. A firm can’t get a reputation for something that not everyone does.
  2. Finding some way to monitor client feedback in real time (not just once a year) and make it credible to everyone that there will be a follow up for anything less than excellence.
  3. Providing training in client counseling skills
  4. Providing research support from the marketing department to help service delivery people stay current on client industries
  5. Enable sharing of experiences (workshops and workbooks) among practitioners on an ongoing basis to establish a continuous improvement approach to client satisfaction.
  6. Implement disciplined project management systems, including mandatory processes for communications strategies with clients mid-process.
  7. A systematic program of senior officer visits to clients to “role model” the firm’s commitment.

None of these approaches are new or innovative. (I first wrote about them in the 1980s, and I wasn’t the originator then) However, it is still my experience that firms are less than systematic in implementing a client service strategy.

What systems do you think are need to pull this strategy off? What else needs to be in the “change package?”


Karen Morath said:

I think it is the client that gets to decide whether we have delivered great client service or not, so ensuring we know what they want and expect is a vital part of systemising our approach. I think it’s important to start the process at the client selection stage and do everything we can to make sure we agree only to work for individuals and organisations we like and respect.

posted on November 13, 2007

Andrea Howe said:

My suggested additions:

8. Provide training in the mindsets and attitudes, not just skills, required to be an extroardinary service provider. (Just because I’m technically great at “active listening” doesn’t mean squat if I don’t do it from a place of true collaboration.)

9. Bring junior people into this conversation and training as early as possible — striving for “Trusted Advisor” status should not be horded by the senior folk (and the junior folk are a firm’s leaders of tomorrow … just like their junior client counterparts).

10. Solicit 360-degree individual feedback, not just general client feedback, to help uncover the blind spots that inevitably get in our way.

posted on November 13, 2007