Cohesive professional services delivery
Collaboration is not a new word – it’s been lingering around professional services firms for a long time. It’s just that no one knows how to make it work right so there is real revenue generation as a result. Collaboration has taken on a new spike since the publication of articles by Harvard professor Heidi K. Gardner and her book Smart Collaboration. Her thinking and findings have very much stimulated our thinking. With that in mind, we have developed a concept for implementation in the mid-sized to large professional firm that focuses entirely on the client.
Like collaboration, the client centric experience is not new – it’s just not working the way that serves the following defined purposes: (1) Increased revenue generation; (2) Clients that are continuously loyal to the firm and; (3) Loyal clients that expand their services to you and not other firms.
Imagine quality collaboration resulting in a strong client relationship that is mutually beneficial and reciprocal. That’s what we call Client Centric Collaboration™.
Collaboration is not Cross-selling
Bottom line, collaboration is about client needs – looking at what is truly best for the client from all angles. It is not about cross-selling whereby for example, a professional would hand over a file to a colleague in another practice area to cover certain expertise. Over time, adopting Client Centric Collaboration™ and implementing it will result in higher revenue generation.
Whatever you want to call the collaboration process in professional firms, if it works, revenue generation will be the result. As Gardner says:
“As additional practice groups serve a practice, the firm can bill a higher amount, and each group earns more, on average. This suggests that the practice groups are collaborating to create additional value, not merely cross-selling discrete services.” – Heidi Gardner
Collaboration can be Simple – Don’t Complicate It
Clients and corporate leaders are seeking simplicity, and in fact, are already collaborating within their own organizations – you already know this. You don’t want to frighten clients with the vision of groups in your office sitting around a boardroom table “collaborating” on them and chalking up chargeable time.
Clients are only thinking how their professional services firm’s collaboration will benefit them without relative increased costs under the guise of added value. Clients get nervous with increased and unaccountable fees. They expect that those working for them have thought about their issues, how their organization works, and can address business emergencies as they may arise assisting them with tailored longer-term planning, advanced strategies and solutions. This tailored client relationship is meant to be a close one.
For instance, a client of a law firm may not need a real estate lawyer until they buy some property. The client is going to be impressed that his/her real estate lawyer already knows about their business. This was because of the firm’s client centric collaboration program.
Making Clients Comfortable with Collaboration
Your client expects that the on-going collaboration in your office about them is not costing money.
Your firm has high-caliber professionals with cross-practice teams. You need to get across to the client that collaboration at your own firm is not a nasty word but one that many successful corporations have implemented for years within their own organizations.
You need to ensure that clients who appreciate collaboration will allow you to be more efficient in how you conduct their work and respond to their requests with better timeliness. In some cases, actually building in a small budget for collaboration with the client’s approval would be the way forward. Imagine if you were a perspective client and received a request for proposal that listed collaboration costs and the direct impact in reducing the gross fee – this would stand out from the crowd of bidders.
As Gardner says:
“To acquire more-sophisticated work, professionals must learn how to determine what a client needs beyond what they can offer.” – Heidi Gardner
Imagine a client realizing their firm is going above and beyond to improve their business and then imagine the rewards.
So, How Can You Get Client Centric Collaboration™ Working in Your Firm?
First, you need to remember a few things:
- It’s not about you. It’s not about the firm. It’s about the client.
- No client. No firm. No you.
- It’s not about working in silos.
- It’s not about cross-selling.
- It’s not going to change overnight – It’s a firm mindset that builds over time.
- You will need the support and endorsement of the firm’s leadership, a team of Collaborative Captains and Collaborative Lieutenants.
So how do you get started on the road to Client Centric Collaboration™ and revenue generation? Simply put, the starting point is collaborating with you, our client, on the process. We have the basis to get started but the process is a collaborative effort since each professional firm is unique with its own nuances.
“Firms that understand if they can serve the most complex needs of their clients, will earn their loyalty and the lion’s share of the most valuable revenue streams, and leave their competitors to scramble after the increasingly lower-value, commodity work.” – Heidi Gardner
For a no-obligation meeting to talk about Client Centric Collaboration™ Larry Stroud can be at 416 728 7409 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.