Establishing a Client Charter
This section sets out why it can be useful to have a Client Charter and includes some of the key pointers for an effective Charter. Many professional services firms have created a charter to state their mission with Clients. Some firms retain these solely for internal use; others publish their charters to the outside world, often through their websites and in reception areas.
Clients expect superior service from their suppliers. Many Clients benchmark procured services across and between supplying organisations, so, for example, they might compare the quality of service from their lawyers with that of their accountants. Some organisations create a specific charter mark that can only be displayed by member firms attaining their standards.
Examples of basic Charter statements include the following.
Contact with Clients
• We will answer the telephone within three rings.
• We will advise you in advance when key team members will be on leave and who will be their temporary replacement.
• We will acknowledge all written communications on the day of receipt.
• We will advise Clients about our Client satisfaction process.
• We will ensure that our Clients receive an interview annually with a member of our Client Care team.
• We will agree and deliver work as promised, to the highest level of quality, on time and to budget.
• We will have regular meetings with Clients to fully understand their business.
• We will seek feedback on all aspects of service and act on any findings.
• We will agree costs at the start of an assignment and advise the likelihood of any unanticipated changes.
• We will supply a table of hourly rate charges for senior partners, partners, senior managers and managers.
Here are some examples of published charters.
• Tell you who is dealing with your matter and who your contact is. We will keep you informed of any changes.
• Do our best to communicate with you in plain English and keep legal jargon to a minimum.
• Explain to you the legal work that is needed. We will keep you informed of your legal rights and provide you with the necessary advice to enable your matter to be completed or resolved as effectively as possible.
• Progress your matter as quickly as reasonably possible and inform you of the up to date position and the timescale for future actions on your behalf.
• Update you when appropriate as to whether the likely outcome of your matter justifies the likely costs and risks of continuing.
• Deal with your enquiries and communications as quickly as reasonably possible. We will endeavour to return telephone calls the same day, and reply to letters within two working days.
Charges and Pricing
• We offer a range of pricing options for the work that we do.
• At the start of your matter we will establish with you the pricing option that is the most suited to your individual requirements.
• We will keep you informed of the likely charges for the matter at least every six months and also if there are any unusual or anticipated costs.
• We will inform you if there are any unusual or additional charges prior to incurring these charges.
• We will consider carefully all your comments about our service. If you feel that you are not receiving the service that you hoped for, please tell the person dealing with your matter immediately.
• We may ask you to complete a feedback form at the end of your matter which we will use to help us improve our service.
• We operate a complaints procedure which is available on request.
• We treat all Clients fairly and do not discriminate against anyone because of their age, race, sex, sexual orientation or disability.
• We will represent your interests and keep your business confidential.
THE INDEPENDENT SURVEYORS ASSOCIATION
• The Independent Surveyors Association is a National Network of like-minded professional surveyors and valuers with considerable experience and skill committed to providing a service of quality and Putting the Client First.
• By instructing a chartered surveyor entitled to display the Charter Mark of ISA, a Client can be confident that the member:
- Is not only a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and as such committed to rigorous professional standards, but also has at least three year's post-qualification experience as a principal, partner or member of senior staff.
- Operates as an independent firm and, as such, will act personally and directly for the Client, but with ability to call on the wealth of specialist disciplines and skills provided within the National Network.
- Will engage in discussion with the Client and explain any aspect or findings in further detail.
- Confirms terms of appointment and the fee basis on acceptance of instructions.
- Offers total loyalty to the Client and absolute discretion.
- Responds promptly to telephone calls and correspondence.
- Is committed to act in a timely manner and to an agreed time-scale.
- Reports clearly and concisely in plain English.
- Is committed to act courteously.
- Maintains a procedure for addressing complaints according to established principles set by the ISA and the RICS.