Recently, Boomer Consulting, Inc. went through Five Star Client Service Training with The Rainmaker Academy. We often think about client service and how
we serve our external clients. However, what about our internal clients - our
coworkers, managers and partners? An organization’s internal client service
skills often reflect upon their external client service skills. What could your
firm accomplish if you focused on improving your internal client service?
When I speak of internal client service,
I am referring to how your team works with one another regarding communication,
collaboration and team work. What if everyone in your organization treated
their coworkers and team members as a "big money” client? Would communication
improve? Would projects run more efficiently and effectively resulting in a
higher-level of quality? When an organization focuses on client service from
the inside out, it strengthens the organization internally and increases the
level of client service they are offer to their external clients.
Southwest Airlines and Disney are
organizations recognized for their outstanding client service. They have exceptional training programs focused
on client service that every employee
must go through. Do you think Southwest
Airlines and Disney could be known for their external client service if they
were dysfunctional internally? Absolutely not!
Building a long-term brand based on Five Star client service is achieved
from the inside out.
Why Internal Client Service is Important
There are many reasons why
internal client service is important. As
it pertains to accounting firms, I believe a few reasons stand out:
- Competitive Advantage – Dr. Maya
Angelou is credited as saying, "if you
have to allocate your resources between managing your brand’s look and managing
your brand’s feel, invest in the feel”.
Excellent client service will set your firm apart from your competitors
much more than a new logo or website design.
Making excellent internal client service a priority will set your firm
up to give your external clients a memorable experience.
- Employee Retention – Your best
employees thrive in an environment that is constantly striving to improve. By focusing on internal client service, your
best team members will learn professional skills that they won’t be able to get
at most organizations. High-performing individuals are proud to work for firms
that have high expectations for client service.
- Collaboration - Henry Ford said it best
"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” An organization that strives for a
high-level on internal client service will see an increase in trust among
departments and team members. This trust will be the foundation for strong
working relationships. Work will be more enjoyable, efficient and at a
higher-level of quality.
Five Star Client Service – Internal "Branding Through Teamwork”
The Rainmaker Academy walked us
through the five steps of internal client service. The steps have been adapted
from the processes Five Star restaurants use to offer their guests excellent
client service. Throughout these five steps, you will notice that communication
is the most important factor. Using these steps, Boomer Consulting has been able
to improve communication internally. Here are the five steps:
Taking the Order
When starting a new project, it’s
important that the order is taken correctly.
Having a clear understanding of the expectations and requirements of the
project will start the project off on the right foot. Too often, conversations and meetings are
rushed and never actually define some of the most important aspects of a
project. Allow time for the order to be taken. Listen, ask questions and take
notes. Recap your understanding of the project back to the person that is
giving the order. Getting this step
right will set the entire project up for being more efficient and effective.
Delivering the Order
Deliver with style, meet
expectations, be on time and on budget.
This builds trust, and in return, keeps the working relationship in full
bloom. If appropriate, set a meeting or
phone call with the person you are delivering the order to and state what you
have done and how it will benefit them. Not all project deliveries need a
meeting, however, delivering with style will make you memorable.
After finishing a big project, be
proactive with getting feedback from your coworkers regarding your performance.
Ask two simple questions:
- What did I do that you liked?
- What could I have done better?
By asking your coworkers these
two questions, you are opening the door for them to offer feedback. Don’t be nervous about what they will say. If
you are honestly trying to improve your internal client service, constructive
feedback is valuable! Most likely, you will be surprised by what they said they
thought you did well. We often do things
well and don’t realize that others see that as a unique strength we bring to
The purpose of dessert is to
leave a good taste in the mouth of your client, whether that is internal or
external. This can be achieved many
ways. Go above and beyond on a project or exceed someone’s expectations. Did a coworker perform well on a project?
Take them out to lunch to show your appreciation. Or give them a "shout out” at
the next staff meeting. This is the fun
part so be sure to give it some thought.
Collecting the Check
When the above steps are
followed, collecting the check is easy. Collecting
the check could be becoming wealthier, improving professional skills, enhancing
the brand or advancing to the next level in your firm. Collecting the check
will look different depending on the project.
Having formal training on
internal client service is crucial to a firm’s long-term success. One of the greatest benefits we now have at
Boomer Consulting after going through the Five Star training is we all have a
common language we use when working with one another. We all understand that our team members are
trying to be Five Star. How can you firm begin to improve internal client