When we work with professional services firms to help them execute their strategy by delivering client service and business development solutions, we talk a lot about the often undervalued importance of the ‘office visit’ experience and the need to provide support staff with training too.
The focus of nearly all programmes and client service strategies introduced by firms is on the ‘professionals’ and client facing delivery teams. And quite rightly so. They are at the front end, meeting, advising and creating value for clients. By developing a deep understanding of clients and their issues, together with a wide knowledge of the full service offering of their firm then they can continually provide their clients with options for solutions. From there it is just about executing the service, so that it meets, or exceeds, client expectations!
The above is the essence of the business cycle for Professional Service firms and is absolutely essential. And so is ensuring there is a similar focus (and even investment) on others in the firm who have responsibility for client service. Which is just about everybody… but specifically those who have a massive impact on the brand, how clients think about the firm, and how much they feel valued.
This week I visited a firm in London for the first time. Without doubt, I was given the best ‘office visit’ experience that I have ever encountered. I was greeted at the front desk by an extremely friendly and welcoming representative using my name, asking about how things were in my business and asking how my fellow director (who she had met before) was. I was early, and my contacts were not yet ready for me, but I was taken to the more spacious meeting room by a representative from the team who made sure I was absolutely comfortable.
Because the meeting involved the use of some IT, I had an immediate visit from a member of their technical team to set me up with WiFi and to ensure all of my equipment was working. My meeting was straddling lunch, and I was visited by a support team member who asked if I wanted any refreshments and offered me various options – all at their expense. He asked me what time I would be leaving and what time my train back to Nottingham was – and five minutes later he came back to give me a travel update, highlighting a possible tube and train delay. And don’t even start me on the quality of the coffee and biscuits!
Did I feel welcome? Unbelievably so. Valued? Absolutely. The impact that these people had in making a first impression that stayed with me was massive. Now I know that this isn’t a groundbreaking statement but in our experience this inital ‘impact’ may be taken for granted or left to chance. Interestingly, front desk personnel, administration staff and even marketing are usually labeled ‘support staff’. I think a better description is ‘core team’.
Because of the power of their impact and the impression they leave people, we believe they are at least as important as ‘fee earners’ in the context of the overall client experience.
There are certainly others that share this view. I know of one firm where a member of the front desk team was promoted to Director level (one level under partner), based on their considerable positive impact on clients, client retention and on helping to win prospects. The value that they added to the firm’s strategy was clear.
Now back to my example. There may be many firms who provide their clients with the same sort of attention and care. But the thing is. I was not a client. I was there to run a Management Development programme. I’m a supplier! And at the end of the post course debrief with my contact, I learned that this was just standard practice for everyone who walks through the door! I’m looking forward to my next visit!
Can you confidently say that clients and visitors receive the same treatment at your firm?
How do you keep your ‘core team’ motivated and fulfilled?
We would love to discuss how you can improve your approach to client service and business development – in fact we love to discuss anything that could help your firm to achieve its potential. Please get in touch on 01892 610060 or email email@example.com.
theGrogroup specialise in helping Professional Service Firms grow business results by optimising: strategy, talent, business performance and business development.