The rationale for this book centres around putting the Client first, everywhere, in the activities of professional services firms. It introduces the Client Management Model™, an assessment process created by the author, to enable firms to determine their level of Client orientation and relationship development. It is evident from the author's recent Client Care Survey that for Client management to be successful, it is necessary to ensure that a number of key elements, supported by effective behaviours and processes, are in place. It is also generally accepted that characteristically professional services firms rank behind their consumer and service sector counterparts when it comes to marketing, sales (business development), service and employee engagement. Also, although professional services firms have audit processes, tax procedures and legal frameworks, many do not apply this structured approach to marketing their firm and managing their Clients. It would seem logical to have in place processes for marketing, business development and Client service.
Clients expect to be looked after by their suppliers; professional services firms aim to become their Clients' trusted advisers. This book shows how putting the Client rather than services first can yield improved results in terms of stronger Client relationships. It stresses the importance of having highly engaged employees and applying best marketing and business development practices in a highly competitive and dynamic marketplace. Attention to these factors provides opportunities for any professional services firm to develop and grow in new, profitable directions. Readers are encouraged to complete a Client Management Review as they finish each chapter and later, through a diagnostic tool, to create their own Client Management Profile™. In collaboration with the author, this data can also used to update the Client Management Index™ to enable benchmarking against other firms.
The words 'Client' and 'Customer' are deliberately capitalised throughout to emphasise their rightful place in the hearts and minds of everyone in a firm. In this book, when the firm is mentioned, it relates to those people who are Client-facing, whether fee earning or otherwise.
My first interaction with Clients in a business context was not particularly spectacular. As a design engineer, it was my task to prepare drawings of furnaces for Clients in the automotive and related industries. These furnaces used nickel and chrome heating elements and a supply shortage of these metals meant that my company had to forecast its requirements for the year ahead. Having spent two months preparing this information, I discovered by chance, to my amazement, that the company had used it to purchase the materials and then sell them while in mid-ocean at a massive profit - letting down at least 40 Clients. Deliveries were going to be late by many months. This episode signaled my search for an alternative working environment and, from then on, my Clients or Customers would come first, whether internally in engineering projects at Procter & Gamble or industrial Customers of 3M and those Clients of my subsequent employers.
The idea of creating a book about Client management came to me just after my retirement from Grant Thornton. Making a difference in this area has always been important to me. My passion for Clients needed an outlet! This book is the result of many conversations with work colleagues, key practitioners in professional services firms, past colleagues in my consultancy career and meetings with many Clients and prospects over the years. With the kind help of the Managing Partners' Forum, a Client Care Survey was created. The responses and subsequent interviews helped me to frame the chapters and to develop the Client Management Model™, the Client Management Profile™ and the Client Management Index™. Many thanks to you all.
My thanks also go to the many top executives and business leaders whose collective wisdom, designs and ideas feature throughout this book. In particular, I am grateful for the support of the following people who kindly shared with me their views on Client management: Alessandra Almeida Jones, Linklaters LLP; Scott Barnes, Grant Thornton UK LLP; Sue Best, ICAEW; Vikki Bingham, GVA; Anne Blackie, Grant Thornton UK LLP; Fran Bosan, Omobono Limited, Marketing Services; Mark Burns, Clarion Solicitors; Dave Chadda, Bid Specialist; Richard Chaplin, Managing Partners' Forum; Douglas Commaille, DCLW Consulting; Darren Cox, Grant Thornton International, Richard Crook,
Savills; Anthony Culley; Dana Denis-Smith, Obelisk Legal Support; Dr Charles Doyle, JLL; Nicola Duke, Mills & Reeve; Allan Evans, BDO; Rob Fear; Louise Field, Bird & Bird; Philip Gardner, Knight Frank; James Harkness, Harkness Kennett; Mark Jeffries, Mills & Reeve; Rolland Keane, Penningtons Manches; Ben Kent, Meridian West; David Kerr, Bird & Bird; Sir Nigel Knowles, DLA Piper; Christian Marroni, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Claire Mason, Man Bites Dog; Diane Nagy, DTZ; Bradley Neill, Grant Thornton International; Ashley Nicholls, The Recruitment Site; Mandy Reynolds, Stephens Scown; Jean Stephens, RSM International; Clive Stevens - Reeves & Co; Caroline Sumnall, Covington & Burling; and Keith Wells, Redstone Consultants.
Finally I would like to thank everyone at Gower Publishing who helped to produce this book.