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The Boomer Bulletin - 2013
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Internal Client Service and Your Brand

Posted By Tina Greim, Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Ascertaining Satisfaction

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 group.

Offering Dessert

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 service?

Tags:  client service 

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