What is your working process with clients?
Do you implement specific methodology, step by step process, forms, worksheets, online applications, tools. Please share what has worked the best to clarify and streamline your business, help you prioritize, be more productive and organized. State what type of business you have and who is your audience for context.
We are sharing step by step "processes" that professionals implement in their business in order to do their job better, serve clients more effectively, be more organized, efficient and understood so please share with those who may be wondering how to improve in this area.
Please note this question is specific to tools, steps etc and the goal is to elaborate in enough detail for others to understand the process fully.
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Methodologies are important for purposes of consistency especially where more than one person is involved and they also help to create structure. However, methodologies should act as guidelines as one size cannot fit all clients and clients' needs are diverse. Most big consulting firms use methodologies which are step by step processes and these are helpful especially in training staff and for efficiency purposes. The methodologies can take any form such checklists, worksheets, application programs etc the key thing is standardization.
I start all of my clients off with a Complimentary Coaching Session to introduce them to the process of coaching and so that they can see if there is a connection that will help them achieve their goals.
Each client is different. I first determine what is the client's capacity for change? From the answers that I receive, I develop a plan to address the client's needs. If the client's need is improving profit margins, I start with financial statements to in order to establish a benchmark or where is the client now. Then we develop a budget/forecast and set realistic goals to reach his/her desired level of performance. During this process, we may discuss what I call the four systems of performance--Sales, Operations, Finance and People.
I really think this question is tapping into each other's areas of expertise too much.
I wanted to answer this when it was first posted, but felt I was giving too much away.
We all have our specialties, and I feel that the wording of this question is way too personal.
Sorry, but that's the way I'm feeling.
The process is very simple: Listen to the client, take good notes, ask questions, and involve the client in every step.. In accounting you have a checklist for EVERYTHING. I could go on and on. If you wish you can always contact me directly.
I have an administrative consulting practice advising and supporting C-suite professionals and small business owners. My process is quite simple:
2. Create Solutions
5. Follow up
A quick insight from someone on the 'other side of the fence', who has dealt with many consultants as a client.
A large percentage never really listen attentively to what one is saying, and are then completely dismayed to find that the wonderful design/ object/program/cunning plan, etc that they roughed out over the weekend contains very little of relevance to the client's requirements.
My company engages with clients before starting a project. We typically have our program managers have an initial meeting where they are trained to diagnose the customer need to match the open innovation services we provide. Throughout the process, we have regular meetings to make sure that we are delivering solutions that are within the scope of what the client needs. This often can evolve as the client determines what is/not needed throughout a project as well. Through our other open innovation services, clients are able to monitor their project progress through our open innovation platforms as well as interact with program managers. In this way, we strive to keep lines of communication open and convenient. To round out the experience, our business development team will follow-up and gain more insights from client feedback, which helps to improve our client offerings.
Understand your clients. There are three things that I think you can do that will significantly help you (and none of them have anything to do with forms, tools, etc):
1. Read and study on how people behave. This is hard because the best material is not in the deluge of business books out there (two pages of value crammed into two hundred pages of fluff). The best material is captured by top notch researchers -- and they don't all fall into a neat category. Eric Beinhocker's The Origin of Wealth, Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, Scott Page's The Difference are three I recommend. You can also google these guys and read their research papers if you're inclined to do that.
2. Watch how your clients (and people like them) actually behave. There is a story about the Toyota engineer who was tasked with designing a minivan for the North American Market. He spent a year driving a variety of cars in all the states and provinces in North America. He spent days watching people in parking lots and how they used their vans. This is where you can develop insights that may not (probably will not) be obvious to your clients. There is a phenomenon called, "The curse of knowledge." It means that your clients (or any of us in general) know way to much about our specialties to see some of the more glaring errors -- or to be able to explain what we mean clearly -- we simply know too much.
3. Listen you your clients -- really listen. Hear what they mean and the messages they are trying to send and the ones that they are sending without realizing it. Use Active Listening techniques. Take lots of notes and then rewrite your notes into coherent "stories" about what your clients told you. Ask lots of questions. Talk to more people than just the person who "hired" you. Get lots of perspectives.
Put all three of those together and you will have a great foundation for understanding what you clients really need and how to deliver it to them -- and elate them.
It shouldn't take more than three or four years.
Honest follow-through. Don't promise what you can't fulfill. Sorry that your question is so vague as to be open to endless discussion.
Generally my clients already have an in-house process that needs to be faithfully followed. I work in quality and regulatory areas in which the FDA or other federal or state agencies demand you adhere to standardized processes. There is always some wiggle room, such as your own approach to meeting spirit of the code. I do advise, however, when their processes fall short or miss steps, but only after evaluating whether or not change is really required. Often the rigor is there if you study it carefully. But committees don't always get things right. Process to me suggests "continual improvement", the ultimate goal of quality systems.
Nothing is perfect, a word I hear far too often in office settings for my taste. It is said to denote positive sentiment when "acceptable" or "adequate" is meant but would seem a chilly response.