Thursday, April 14, 2011

Solicit Complaints

The best of client relationships are imperfect! The reality is that — whether a relationship is business or personal— negative issues may arise which, for a variety of reasons, one party may avoid telling the other. And oftentimes these little negatives, left untold, fester and build into bigger negatives as time goes by.

That is why I have always believed it is critical not only to respond to complaints — you must solicit complaints in client relations.

And thus our Quality Commitment Program was born.

On a regular basis, our firm’s senior management, as a group, reviews every client relationship and the work of each account team. Simultaneously, we ask the clients for their formal written review of the firm’s performance. (We have found that comments written on an evaluation form tend to be more direct than those given in person, perhaps because it is easier to relate a negative — or pass along praise — in writing than fact-to-face.)

The questionnaire is a no-holds-barred attempt to get to the heart of the matter. Are we achieving agreed-upon objectives? How does the client rate our work? Is the client getting value for the money? Are they satisfied with all the people on their account team? Is there anything we should be doing that we’re not? Would the client give us a positive reference?

A Client Review Committee meets monthly to assess our client relationships, identify new client service opportunities and find ways to prevent budding client dissatisfactions from becoming full-blown problems.

In effect, our company-wide QC program represents a more formal enactment of the model of client agency interaction that we try to make an integral part of the daily work habits of all of our professional staff.

Every client interaction is seen as an opportunity to perform a gap analysis — to identify new opportunities to give satisfaction to the client. Every action is subject to analysis against previously established criteria for success. And the endless loop continues with the identification of new opportunities to create value for the client.

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