« HBR: In Praise of The Generalist. Just in time, too. "Domain expertise" was getting on everyone's nerves. | Main | Cross-Culture: A Dutchman born in Columbia marvels about--and explains--the post-colonial ethnic salad bowl that is Panama. »

June 12, 2012

The Wonderful Twos: One employee per client project is rarely a good idea.

Identical_Twins,_Roselle,_New_Jersey,_1967.jpg
"Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967", Diane Arbus.

Customers need to know you are authentically and earnestly "there". One employee per project is rarely a good idea. Think in terms of twos. Have a second person (at least) for everything.

Two (2) Things about Thinking in Terms of Twos:

1. Staffing. If you are a services professional, any project you do for a customer, buyer or client should have at least two (2) professionals assigned to it. It doesn't matter how small or big the project is. As your co-workers are often traveling, in meetings or are otherwise unavailable, customers who call or e-mail deserve to have more than one member of your office 100% knowledgeable and current on any project. If it's a small matter, just don't charge for it. Trust us on this.*

2. Written Communications. Start this regime on both ends of your communications. Get both your staff and customers to buy into it. Invoices, letters, e-mails or Anything Written--to or from your office--should always be addressed to (customer end) and received by (your firm's end) two (2) human beings. In addition to the reasons given above in Item 1--i.e., for communications received by your office--writings by your firm TO your clients or to any of their agents should copy two (2) humans. Or you will be an Administrative Screw-Up. Reason: Main contact points for customers, buyers and clients also get busy and unavailable. So copy one other human who assists the contact, client rep, GC, in-house person or accounts payable folks whenever you can do it.

It's common sense. But if you are a professional services person--e.g., accountant, lawyer, actuary, mortgage broker, stock broker--you likely don't have any common sense. And you know that. Sorry, Jack, but (gulp) it's just true.

Again, trust us.

*If customers actually need to frequently call you to check on things, you are likely a Customer Service Screw-Up. The work is never about you. Buyers of professional services should rarely have questions. (Any question they have you can and should anticipate 99.5% of the time.) But if they DO have questions--about either an ongoing project or in particular a new matter they inquire about--have two (2) people ready to respond. Customers need to know you are authentically and earnestly "there".

Posted by JD Hull at June 12, 2012 11:59 PM

Comments

Post a comment




Remember Me?