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Care: The Role of Client Care

Synopsis

Care, the fifth element of the Client Management Model™, discusses:

• the behavioural aspects of Client care;

• what a firm needs to do to ensure that its Clients feel highly valued and are at the core of its culture;

• how to establish a Client Care Programme;

• 'Touch Points' and 'Moments of Truth';

• understanding and acting out the Client experience;

• the relevance to Clients of an active Client Care Policy and charter.

THOUGHT STARTERS

• What is meant by Client care?

• Who is responsible for Client care?

• What does the Client experience when dealing with your firm?

• What is best practice in Client care?

• What is a Touch Point? What is a Moment of Truth?

Client Care

Effective Client care comes naturally to many people, especially if the firm encourages Client-centricity. Any interaction with a Client or prospective Client is an opportunity to build a trusted relationship. Although looking after Clients may seem an obvious characteristic and requirement, many firms surveyed recently admit that there are many improvements to be made. For effective Client care, everyone who deals directly or indirectly with Clients needs to understand that the firm exists to serve its Clients - not the other way round! How many times do we overhear colleagues talking about their interactions with Clients: 'Oh, that was just ... one of our Clients ... wanting us to change our invoicing date. Some chance!' or 'That Client ... is always complaining.'

Given that Client care implies looking after Clients, many firms have a Client Care Policy (see later) and document situations where Client care is needed. They communicate the appropriate action required to all employees. They also use these to train and develop the appropriate employee behaviours when interacting with Clients.

Establishing a Client Care Programme

These training situations leading to the development of an effective Client Care Policy and Programme can come from:

• general observations;

• discussions of 'Touch Points' and 'Moments of Truth' (see later in this chapter);

• Client satisfaction reports;

• Client panels;

• feedback from Client meetings;

• research surveys.

Many firms conduct regular Client care training; some have an ongoing programme to ensure that their Client Care Policy is applied consistently.

To establish and embed a Client Care Programme requires considerable planning, Client research and, ideally, commitment from the board. Everyone in the firm has a responsibility to exercise excellent Client Care, but to succeed, they must have an appreciation of what constitutes good and bad Client care.

A best practice Client Care Programme could include the following elements:

• Client Care Policy discussions.

• Workshops to discuss Touch Points, Moments of Truth and act out scenarios.

• The importance of listening.

• How to make Clients feel important - building Client rapport by asking questions.

• How to say 'Yes' more often to Clients.

• How exceeding Client expectations builds the relationship.

• How to interpret and appreciate Client feedback.

• Client satisfaction surveys.

• Client satisfaction report reviews.

• Face-to-face discussions with Clients.

Who Manages Client Care?

Responsibility for the establishment of Client Care Policy and Programmes needs to be at a senior level in the firm to ensure the highest level of commitment. Ideally a board member should bear the responsibility. As a function, responsibility for Client care often rests within, or sits alongside, the marketing and/or business development teams. Enlightened firms appoint a board member to oversee policy creation and to champion stories about Client care around the firm. The human resources team are often used to develop training programmes and workshops with marketing and BD input.

As a minimum, a firm should appoint a Client Care Manager to champion the behavioural aspects and manage Client satisfaction research. The key to a successful Client Care Programme is regular internal communication along with employee training and development.

A MANTRA FOR CLIENT CARE

'If I had a mantra to sum up what I think good Client care looks like, it's 'Be bothered'. If you are, the likelihood is you and your Clients will do well.'

Ms Fran Bosan, Omobono Limited, Marketing Services.

So what does excellence in Client care look like? Here is an example from the retail sector.

GOING THE EXTRA DISTANCE

Mr Crosby visits his local camera shop and asks for a zoom lens to fit the model he is carrying. He says that he wants to take photographs at his cousin's wedding tomorrow. The sales assistant searches the database and says that unfortunately they don't have the lens in stock at this branch, but he can have one in a few days' time. Mr Crosby orders the lens and says to the assistant that he wishes he had come to the shop earlier in the week.

Next day, early on the morning of the wedding, Mr Crosby hears his house bell ringing and, on opening the front door, sees the familiar figure of the camera shop sales assistant holding a box. 'Good morning Mr Crosby. Managed to get this lens for you from another branch - hope you enjoy the day'

We can all remember situations like the above case where someone went the extra distance to help us. It is also well-known that unhappy Customers tell their friends and family about poor service. In these times of rapid communications, such stories can reach millions in seconds across the Internet and have the power to enhance or destroy reputations.

 
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