Sunday, August 21, 2011

Four Steps To Improve Client Relationships and Interactions

In the Diving Journal's last post I explored the components of client interactions,  the building blocks of a client relationship. Below is a method that can help improve client relationships and their interactions in a systematic way.

It's called the Client Relationship Improvement Process (CRIP) and serves as a four-step cycle focused on improving interactions and their component parts. 
The goal: increase client retention and grow revenue.

  • What is the context of the client relationship? Assess the organizational culture, structure, decision-making processes, internal relationships, etc.
  • What are the client’s desires, expectations, needs and skills (both stated and unstated) related to interactions? What is the client’s readiness to engage in the interaction? Ask, listen and observe. Focus on the message, medium and style.
  • Define which interactions to improve. Prioritize based on impact of change and ease of implementation.
  • Design and deliver the best interactions for the client and situation, based on the assessment.
  • Evaluate the interactions by capturing feedback about performance and value.
  • Determine what’s worked and what hasn’t.
  • Document, share, practice those interactions that work best.
  • Prepare to cycle through again.

The CRIP focuses on improving  interactions, those "hows" of a of client relationship that are too often ignored or, at best, dealt with on a crisis basis. With a little practice, account and project leaders can learn to lead clients, not just react to them.

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