Do you fully understand your clients’ needs? Are they really satisfied with your service? Daphne Thissen explains the benefits of using a consultant for client reviews
Your client relationship starts and ends with every piece of work you do for a client; every piece of professional work counts in the relationship. It is down to your relationship-building skills and interaction with the client as to whether any single matter will lead to recurring business.
This way of viewing client relations can be embedded in a company’s culture. For example, once new business is won from an existing or new client, you can start a client relation trail. The chances are the business was partly won through a personal connection: make sure to honour that by keeping in touch with the client throughout the work.
One way of keeping in touch - and on track - is bespoke client reviews carried out by an independent consultant. These can take the form of a documented interview following a set of pre-agreed questions. These can be a positive step for both the firm and the client. Here are five immediately noticeable benefits of in-person reviews.
Using an independent consultant ensures the measurability of the information gained. This is especially so when you use a set of questions that is made in-house covering topics which are important to your firm, for instance on client engagement, fees and so on.
It provides a genuine and first-hand understanding of external perceptions of your firm and how these measure up to internal perceptions. These insights can enable firms to reinvigorate important client relationships through a range of simple strategies ranging from training key employees in interpersonal skills, adjusting reporting frequency for particular clients, and more frequent personal contact for others.
There is real control over who responds to the questions. This is rather different from online or emailed questionnaires as the most appropriate person to get feedback from is sought out and sent a request to be interviewed.
The high quality personal contact starts with the interview request and is followed by at least 40 minutes of one-to-one contact with the client. It is preferable for the interview preferably takes place at the client’s office / home as it is important that they are in an environment in which they feel comfortable and can talk freely.
Naturally, we all find it hard to hear negative – and surprisingly often, positive- feedback. The independent structure has proven an invaluable ‘reality check’ with firms discovering new things about themselves and their clients.
The consultant reports back to the firm after the interviews, offering a set of action points if relevant. These can vary from personal phone calls from the responsible partner, to shifting team responsibilities to capitalise on individual aptitudes that have emerged in review feedback.
Due to the consultant’s impartiality, the client is much more likely to speak candidly, often producing valuable and credible quotes for use in internal and external marketing material. The insights are also often a massive boost to employee morale precisely because these have been gathered independently.