Client Loyalty Post #14: Are key client teams worth it?
This is the fourteenth in our weekly series of posts that provide excerpts and tips from our book Building Enduring Client Loyalty: A Guide for Lawyers and Their Firms, just published in February. Click here to save 15%. Enter code ‘AUTHBEC’ at the checkout.
Client account management (CAM) is a business strategy that law firms can use to think strategically about their important clients and to formally monitor and address client needs, satisfaction, service and delivery and opportunities for deepening and expanding the relationship. It is a systematic approach that focuses on building loyal partnerships with a small number of significant clients in order to ensure the strategic development and retention of these key assets over the long-term by achieving mutual goals and value. Many firms achieve this through the formation of client teams.
Client teams must articulate their objectives and develop an action plan to execute on. Objectives often include:
- Gaining a more thorough understanding of the client’s business: its strategy, commercial and operational model, customer base and distribution channels, revenue and profit model, business, risk and legal priorities, current unmet and future needs
- Increasing knowledge of the client’s industry, its competitors, regulatory and legal pressures, economic trends and threats
- Identifying other law firms and service providers the client uses to both understand how the client differentiates and perceives your firm but also to explore opportunities to collaborate in the client’s best interest
- Improving internal communication, knowledge and coordination so all those serving the client, including administrative personnel, stay current on client contacts, preferences for service delivery, current open matters, recent meetings, CLEs and other meaningful client interactions and future needs and opportunities
- Proactively identifying and addressing client needs in practice areas the firm has been hired for but also others
- Enhancing mutual value by improving service efficiencies through automation and downward delegation and leverage, better budgeting and process management, meeting client budgets, adding value and managing work profitably
- Ensuring integration and continuity of lawyers serving client including laterals and new associates
- Improving overall coordination and client management
- Evaluating and improving consistency in how work is managed, billed, how key personnel interact with clients, the quality of work regardless of which lawyer, support personnel, office or practice group interacts with the client
- Instituting continuous feedback and improvement mechanisms both to collect client feedback and to systematically address and institute changes
- Engaging internally and with the client to explore cross-functional innovative solutions
While most companies have mature customer account management processes in place, law firms lag behind and are not structured or used to investing “extra” time or resources to help manage client relationships. As firms have come to realize how critical it is to work collaboratively to retain and grow existing clients, many have initiated client team programs and have hired dedicated client managers to oversee major client accounts. Please see our book for detailed steps and considerations in establishing and running effective key client teams.
RainMaking Oasis provides consulting and coaching services to law firms and lawyers in the areas of client loyalty and development, business development and growth strategy, collaboration and innovation and succession planning. Please contact Susan Duncan at [email protected].