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We need to get better at client collaboration in our firms

Feb 20, 2019 10:20:12 AM

Client collaboration is essential to your firm’s success. Therefore, it is important to develop close, mutually-beneficial relationships with your clients, ensuring you use all client data available to foster trust and cooperation from the outset. 

By building client collaboration utilising existing client data, you can then, in turn, use this collaboration to extract even more client data and information, enabling you to provide an even greater level of value.

In order to get the most out of your collaboration initiatives, it is paramount to build trust between your firm and your clients.  No matter how many times you’ve worked with a client before, ensuring you are continually investing in fostering trust through placing the client’s outcomes at the forefront of every piece of work will make all tasks more efficient.

So how do you build this trust, and how do you ensure you show the client you’re focused solely on achieving the best outcome?  

The answer is very simple: your firm needs to eliminate all distractions, processes and inefficiencies which can take focus off the outcome, and instead aim to streamline all processes towards your combined end goal. 

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While it may be easier said than done, there are a number of steps you can undertake to help make this a reality:

1) Your firm should invest in auto-auditing management tools to minimise time wasted on such activities. Auto-auditing solutions not only improve efficiency, but also provide in-depth reporting, which can help deliver real value to the client;

2) By streamlining communication as much as practicable, you ensure all messages are consistent, all information is delivered to its rightful recipient, and nothing is – as they say – ‘lost in translation’. However, this does not necessarily mean creating a single point of contact to which your client has to direct all inquiries; on the contrary, this can often lead to an increase ‘lag time’ between sender and receiver. Rather, opening and encouraging direct communication between yours and the client’s teams can help you reap greater efficiency by removing unnecessary steps in the communication chain;

3)  If practicable, have your firm’s project team work as a ‘team of the client’.  This team can help gain a greater knowledge of the client and their industry, while providing coordinated and integrated advice.  They can also act as a two-way portal into both your firm and the client, enabling speedy responses to inquiries and faster problem resolution;

4) By not only driving, but also owning the security of the client, you can instill faith in your firm while also increasing their capabilities.  By searching for, highlighting, and taking ownership of the elimination of vulnerabilities, your client will be in a stronger position to concentrate on their core business without the need to worry about aspects of security.  

5) By providing the client access to your firm’s unique capability, they will be able to see greater value in your services. If your firm has the tools and know-how to solve an issue the client is experiencing, allowing them to use this expertise will ingratiate you with them, and may just be your edge for winning future contracts with both them and others.

Only once a client believes you are genuinely working for the best outcome will they be willing to share the most valuable pieces of their information jigsaw – the pieces you need to create a more complete profile of your client and the environment they operate within.  

One very important piece of the jigsaw is a client’s risk profile, which your firm should encourage them to share.  By gaining an in-depth understanding of a client’s willingness and ability to take risks, your firm will be able to identify an acceptable level of risk for your client and help them to mitigate any threats.  Similarly, this information will feed into your own projects, helping you create individually-tailored solutions for each of your clients and their differing needs.

When you are working closely with a client, collaboration across the board will help you both realise efficiencies which may otherwise be out of reach.  It is important, therefore, to ensure you draw all required resources into the collaboration effort, as this will provide maximum return and deeper value.

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