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Relationships: Client Relationship Development

Synopsis

Relationships, the eighth element of the Client Management Model™, explains:

• the aim of relationship development;

• the importance of regular communication;

• Client panels;

• the Client relationship development process;

• types of Client relationship;

• a Relationship Evaluation Process;

• relationship tracking;

• Client segmentation;

• Client data analytics;

• Clients that defect;

• Client Relationship Management (CRM) and systems;

• launching a CRM programme.

THOUGHT STARTERS

• How can you keep Clients interested in your firm?

• What are the communication preferences of your Clients?

• How would you characterise the types of relationship that exist?

• How can you develop stronger Client relationships?

• How should you keep in contact with Clients in-between assignments?

• What is your relationship development process?

• How does CRM operate in your firm?

The Aim of Client Relationship Development

Clients usually have a wide choice of suppliers for professional services. Firms want to become trusted advisers. Clients expect added value during a relationship. Experience shows that those firms that understand the different phases of relationship development are more likely to have a portfolio of loyal, profitable, Clients than those that just view Clients as transactional.

Regular Communication

Clients expect regular communication during their relationship with the supplying firm. One of the most important and least expensive ways of retaining Clients is to keep in touch using a variety of methods:

• sending hardcopy articles that may be of interest - using the personal touch - adding a handwritten note;

• sending emails with links to articles;

• inviting them to a discussion, Client panel, event or exhibition;

• establishing blogs and forums;

• sending them a book that may be of interest;

• asking them to be interviewed for an article;

• asking them to be interviewed and filmed for an internal event;

• newsletters;

• magazines in both hard and digital copy;

• technical bulletins;

• asking for testimonials that can be developed into case studies;

• asking them to help with development of new services.

A CLIENT SPEAKS OUT

A management team agreed to have a guest Client speak to them at dinner during a three-day residential workshop on Client management. This Client was selected since he was very satisfied with their construction work some eight months ago. During his talk about his business, the Client indeed indicated how pleased he was with the project. This drew visible comfort and self-praise from the management team involved around the table.

However, the Client then said: 'What really concerns me is that no-one from your firm has been in touch with me in over six months since that project was completed - and I still have an unspent programme budget worth over £700m.'

This comment created a very different feeling from the top managers seated around the Client!

Client Panels

The use of Client panels is on the increase as firms aim to satisfy Clients beyond provision of advice. Many firms create such panels of satisfied Clients with the aim of:

• improving their services;

• introducing new services;

• welcoming new Clients;

• seeking feedback on working methods;

• seeking referrals;

• seeking ideas for events;

• asking the Client to help with development of new services.

These panels meet regularly to discuss issues of interest to Clients, test innovations in service delivery and generally to keep firms in touch with their markets.

 
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