Monday, April 12, 2010

Client Service Champions Or Just Measurers?

Spring is a good time to undertake a client service survey. You're far enough into the calendar year to evaluate agency and client performance, and it's early enough to take stock of your relationships and make adjustments (even course corrections) if necessary. If you plan to conduct your own survey to measure client satisfaction, then don't just look at it from a standpoint of asking for data. Use the fact that you're conducting the survey as a means to strengthen your client relationships. Here are a few thoughts to consider:

· Thank your clients for their business. We don't do so often enough.
· Send the message that client service excellence is a priority for your firm. Don't worry about overpromising or raising expectations. Clients want to know you care and that you're trying your very best on their behalf.
· Keep it brief. The fewer the questions the better. You don't need to ask 50 questions to demonstrate your priorities and engage in a meaningful conversation.
· Don't be afraid to ask. Sometimes agencies get bashful about asking for client participation, making the excuse: "my client is too busy." Rubbish. It's like saying you won't invite someone to a party at your home because you determine that they may not be able to make it. People like being invited and can get really offended if they're not. Be sure to ask; they'll appreciate it, even if they are too busy. This is also where keeping it brief helps.
· Involve all your client contacts. Don't just ask your primary client contact. Ask everyone who works with your firm - on all fronts. Also remember that the secondary contact of today may be the primary contact tomorrow. Talk to everybody.
· Share the results. Let your clients know that you'll share the results with them. Do not make the mistake of asking for their opinions without follow-up. If you have already done so in the past, I can better understand why you'd be afraid to ask again. This time, promise to share the results, and be sure to follow through on that promise.
· Develop an action plan. Regardless of how good the results, develop an action plan, or at the very least a communications plan. Revisit the plan and discuss progress once a quarter.

Show your clients that you're not just client service measurers; you're client service champions. By doing so, you'll strengthen your client relationships beyond measure.

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