No one disagrees with the notion that excellent client management is important. Good client management means that clients continue to give work and they include us in their thinking when new opportunities for work arise. Also, the image of being recognised as a client-focused business is a positive one for us.
In practice, many businesses find excellent client management a challenge. Often there is a desire to look after their clients better, to win a greater share of their work and to know that competitors would find it extremely difficult to win work from their clients. From our experience, this desire is not backed up by the will and motivation to make key client management a reality. Desire and will are not the same things. With desire the imperative is missing.
Over the years we have helped many clients improve their retention and development of key client relationships. Such experience enables us to support clients through a variety of different ‘client relationship management’ services, including:
- Tailored skills and process training/development programmes
- Key client reviews and other research
- Executive and group coaching
- Consultancy – key client protection strategy and implementation support
- Train the trainer programmes
- Facilitation of board and strategy meetings
For more information on our thinking and approach to client relationship management please select one of the links below:
Why Client Relationship Management?
When businesses start to go hungry they are forced to go out to hunt – their most desirable potential prey being the key clients of their competitors.
Given this scenario, firms that make every effort to ensure excellence in everything that they do for their key clients tend to be in a stronger position to defend these relationships and keep voracious competitors at bay. Through these activities defending firms can retain the business of the small number of clients that almost invariably make up a disproportionate percentage of overall fee income. The professional management of key client relationships has never been so important.
The nuances of client relationship management in professional services
Relationships are paramount to professional services firms. The quality of client relationships has a direct correlation to the degree of success a firm experiences. The cost of finding new clients compared to the cost of retaining existing ones, is well documented. Those firms who do not invest in building good relationships, face a greater turnover of clients (and probably staff) than those that do.
Firms that are more successful at Key Client Management tend to view it as a strategy which is fundamental to the firm achieving its most important objective(s), rather than an objective in its own right. This strategy is the broad direction the firm must take in order to meet its business imperatives.
In ensuring the strategy is successful, the key client management programme needs a defined leader or ‘champion’ who can gain buy-in at every level. Recognition and rewards must also be in line with the strategy so that client retention and business from existing clients is rewarded as much as new business from new clients. The most successful firms also work hard to build the necessary motivation and discipline at ground level so that best practice is prevalent throughout the firm.
Improving client relationship management
Over the years, we have helped many organisations improve their client relationship management. In doing so, we have helped our clients:
- Understand the process of managing key clients
- Undertake key client planning
- Manage key client relationships
- Segment their client base
- Conduct successful and responsible cross-selling
- Market successfully to existing clients
- Develop key service skills
- Develop a service strategy
The Key client management healthcheck is designed to help professional services firms assess how they perform in 12 core aspects of key client management. In our experience, greater success in these aspects leads to greater protection of key client relationships and generates a more profitable and loyal client base.
What does it do?
The Managing Key Clients Healthcheck is a perception questionnaire that generates a detailed assessment of a firm’s approach to its key client relationships. This report enables those involved in client relationship management to gain a better understanding of the firm’s approaches in these fields by:
- Giving a snapshot of current strengths and weaknesses
- Identifying areas where support and development is needed to realise greater opportunities
How can it help?
Some firms use a number of their people to complete the questionnaire, in order to obtain a more holistic view of its overall performance in this area. As a result the Healthcheck is a valuable tool when used:
- To determine the short and long-term strength of the client portfolio
- To identify and support client protection strategies
- Alongside fee-income reports – to understand how certain activities and approaches, result in particular income levels from existing clients
- As part of a firm’s Personal Development Reviews/Appraisal Systems – to ensure support and development are given in the areas that need it most
- As a guide for a firm’s marketing and business development plans – to focus investment on the areas that need it most
For more information about using our Managing Key Clients Healthcheck service, please contact Wendy Fountain on +44 (0)1932 260062 or email him at [email protected]
View PACE Key Client Management Case Studies by clicking here.