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In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we asked one of our learners, a senior manager, to Identify a few clients who are difficult to manage in relation to the scheduling and completion of work. Discuss underlying issues and solutions.

Learner Reflection

We understand that delays in the completion of work can have a significant effect on WIP and achieving time cost budgets. If the client does not understand or appreciate the importance of providing information on time, we need to be proactive in changing their behaviour. It’s not easy with some clients

1st client

Lack of communication from the client and always has his records in late. Never stick to timeframes and does not respond when asked (continuously chasing). Not always pays on time. Can be rude to staff on the phone.

Solution – Revisit expectations from clients (commitment/client buy-in letter). Sign off meeting with Tash so issues can be addressed.

2nd client

Lack of communication from client, not very easy to get a hold off. Avoidant of issues (payment, debt & IRD)

Solution – Revisit expectations from clients (commitment/client buy-in letter). Sign off meeting with Tash so issues can be addressed.

3rd client

Hard to get a hold of (can be a last-minute Larry with information), needs face to face meeting to get information. Never pays monthly invoices correctly.

Solution – Meeting with client in the beginning of the year with an accurate checklist of information required. Checking with all staff with possible information required

4th client

Lack of communication from client, not very easy to get a hold off. Requires constant follow up for everything! Hard to book appointments with client.

Solution – Carol has to give client a lot of TLC, client now answers and has a good relationship with Carol. Alternative point of contact Holly.

General comment – Most of the above might be resolved with firmer meetings around drop off and sign off meetings.

Feedback from our experts

All of these examples focus on lack of communication or timely response from clients. The simplest solution is to set the ground rules up front and ensure they are followed as work proceeds.  It may seem difficult to do this for established clients who don’t appreciate the impact that their lack of engagement has on the firm’s ability to get jobs completed on time and on budget.

Whether you are dealing with new or established clients, the simplest way to address this is to reset the ground rules at the beginning of the financial year for all clients. Set schedules for incoming work, establish checklists if appropriate and try to ensure that work is not started until all information is received. This is sometimes difficult, but a careful review of work up front will usually identify key outstanding issues or information.

3 actions for your firm to consider:

  1. Develop and Implement a Communication Strategy
  • Define clear communication channels and designate specific times for updates and discussions.
  • Schedule regular check-ins to discuss progress, concerns, and any changes in information or requirements.
  • Establish a system for prompt response to emails and calls, and clearly communicate the expected response time to clients.
  1. Create a Clear and Comprehensive Client Onboarding Process
  • Develop structured onboarding procedures, including timelines, to set clear expectations right from the start.
  • Provide clients with a checklist of required documents and information, and a schedule for submission.
  • Clearly outline the scope of work, deliverables, responsibilities, and any deadlines in the engagement letter, ensuring the clients understand and agree to the terms.
  1. Enhance Workflow Management
  • Utilize project management tools to track progress and manage tasks efficiently.
  • Assign responsibilities and tasks to specific team members and ensure they have the necessary resources to fulfill them.
  • Implement workflow automation where possible to reduce manual errors and save time.

Key take-away

Clear communication and effective strategies to set and manage expectations are critical in taking control of client relationships. Remember that you run the show, not your clients.

This assessment task and response is taken from the Responsible Workflow Manager eLearning Course. Click here to explore this course

Also, take a look at the Ultimate Practice Manager eLearning Course.

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