by Kirsten Hodgson
This is the second in my three-part series about the 8 most common client service mistakes lawyers, accountants, engineers and other professionals make and how to avoid these.
Last week's post dealt with the first two. This week we look at another three typical, and costly, mistakes.
Number 3. Hiding behind written communications
It’s often tempting to draft a news-alert or letter to clients about issues that might affect their business but by doing this you may well be missing out on great opportunities. How much more valuable would it be to your clients if you called them about the issue, briefly set out what it might mean for them, and organised to come in and talk to them about it in more detail? You could then follow up with your written summary.
I talk to clients of professional services firms time and time again who tell me that their advisers missed out on an opportunity because they sent a generic written summary about an issue that could potentially affect the client’s business AFTER their competitors had done so. Because a number of firms are adopting the same approach, it literally comes down to who can get the summary out quickest. The clients say that, had they received a phone call and a more personalized approach, the adviser would have secured the work arising from this.
Number 4. Focusing on yourself rather than on the client
When times are quiet, attention does turn to business development. However, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to focus on your needs rather than those of your clients. The best way to ensure success is to find out about your clients’ businesses, ask them about their upcoming opportunities and challenges, find out what their current frustrations are and think about whether there are any opportunities for you and your colleagues arising from this.
Once you've done so you can offer a workshop, give some free advice (that then leads to paid work) or send your client something (such as a checklist, article or referral) that could help them. You may want to think about who else in your network your client might like to meet and provide an introduction either in person, or via LinkedIn.
Number 5. Lack of meeting preparation / outcome identification
Given that the majority of people don’t want to fail, it’s amazing how many treat meetings with existing clients as something they can ‘wing’. Before any client meeting you need to identify the purpose and what you want to achieve as a result.
I’d recommend preparing at least three questions you would like to ask the client during the meeting and that you define your target post-meeting ‘next action step’ (e.g. set up a follow up meeting by X date, or introduce them to your colleague by X date).
The key thing is to leave each meeting with a concrete action step that’s time-bound.
I'll post the final part next week.
What's your view?
What other common mistakes do you see professionals making when dealing with their existing clients?