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In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we asked one of our learners, an administrator in public practice, to consider how staff behaviour reflected the firm’s approach to client relationship management.

Learner Reflection

We try to be a client centric practice. We have had many good intentioned discussions and training regarding this very topic. Our practice is made up of one partner, 12 managers and 2 administration staff.

Although it is our expectation that everything we do is for the benefit of the client, we do get held down by the day-to-day workload and just trying to get the work done and out the door. Much of our work is very reactive rather than proactive.

We are very open to software helping us streamline processors and free up time to service our clients better, I believe we have enough technology (software) in place to make our processors more efficient. We introduced a software program that enables our staff to monitor all of their KPI’s including productivity, recoverability, WIP, workflow and lodgements. We do struggle to get the managers to monitor this, It’s designed to allow them to better organise their workflow. The office manager regularly keeps an eye on this and has regular workflow meetings with managers however, managers tend to wait until these meetings to look at the software. This is something that could be worked on.

We have got an engagement letter that goes to all clients. It is a very standard we do this work for you for this fee etc. We don’t have a “service agreement’ as such and is another area that can be looked at.

One of our biggest hurdles is the change doesn’t come easy to our managers. Many have been at the practice for 10 – 20 years and are used to the managing style of the previous owner and is still very old fashioned in its ways. The manager deals with the clients and admin is done behind the scenes. This is also another aspect that could do with some work.

I think overall we are heading the right direction; it’s just trying to implement baby steps to achieve a more client centric practice.

I have included our staff training module, which provides an insight of what we have been trying to achieve within the practice, it shows our good intentions but has not changed a great deal from this time.

Feedback from our experts

Every professional service firm will say that their approach to client relationship management is strong, indeed it has to be to retain clients.

However, staff behaviour doesn’t always reflect a firm’s ideal approach to managing clients proactively and professionally. Issues arise when staff are simply too busy or lack the communication skills to effectively engage with clients.

The learner in this example is honest in expressing the firm’s ‘good intentions’ in managing client engagement and communication. The firm appears to be doing most of the things required to maintain client relationships.

The key challenge arises when the firm is trying to really develop client relationships to provide additional value and develop strong advocate relationships. This requires strong internal systems and processes to allow staff, especially managers and partners, to focus on building client relationships through rich conversations and proactive contact.

What is your firm doing to transition from good to great client relationships? Do you believe your staff really engage with clients proactively.

Take a look at our 5 steps for developing stronger client relationships. What could your firm do better?

  1. Strong Client Engagement with Service Agreements

Develop customised service agreements that clearly outline the scope of services, deliverables, timelines, and expectations. Tailor these agreements to meet the specific needs of each client, demonstrating a deep understanding of their business.

Schedule periodic reviews of the service agreements to ensure they remain relevant and adjust them as needed based on changes in the client’s business or financial environment.

  1. Client Discovery Sessions to Identify Financial Needs

Conduct thorough client discovery sessions to understand their financial goals, challenges, and needs. Use these sessions to gather detailed information that will help in providing tailored advice and solutions.

Treat discovery as an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Regularly update client profiles and financial needs assessments to stay aligned with their evolving circumstances.

  1. Proactive Management of Workflow to Free Up Time for Advice

Implement efficient workflow management systems to streamline routine tasks and processes. Utilise technology and automation to handle repetitive tasks, freeing up time for staff to focus on high-value advisory services.

Provide training for staff on effective time management techniques to maximise their productivity and ensure they can dedicate more time to proactive client interactions.

  1. Opportunity for Clients to Provide Real Feedback to the Firm

Establish multiple channels for clients to provide feedback, such as surveys, feedback forms, and one-on-one meetings. Ensure these channels are easily accessible and encourage honest, constructive feedback.

Demonstrate responsiveness by acting on the feedback received. Communicate the changes or improvements made based on client suggestions to show that their input is valued and impactful.

  1. Regular Touch Points to Reach Out to Clients

Schedule regular touch points with clients, such as quarterly check-ins or monthly updates, to discuss their financial status, upcoming deadlines, and any changes in their needs or goals.

Use these touch points to provide valuable insights, industry updates, and proactive advice. Ensure that each interaction adds value to the client, reinforcing the relationship and trust

Key takeaway: To develop strong client advocates, you need to ensure that systems, processes and behaviours all reflect the firms’ focus on client relationship management

This assessment task and response is taken from the Client Service Administration eLearning course (assessment task 1.1). Click here to explore this course

Also, take a look at the Client Concierge eLearning course.

Discover the pulse of our eLearning community as we unveil daily feedback from enrolled learners. Exciting times ahead as we share this valuable information with the accounting, advisory, and administrative experts in public practice!