Collaboration adds value to our clients

The importance of demonstrating genuine value add, beyond core services for clients, is more integral than ever before. Clients are now looking to professional services firms to provide a more collaborative and insightful service for functions such as Finance, HR (Training and Development), IT, Corporate Social Responsibility and Project Management resulting in a full client service solution.

Marketing and BD professionals are in a prime position to help support fee earners and wider service teams with collaborative activities. Based on my personal client facing and relationship management experience, the demand for increased key account management support with in-depth sector knowledge is a significant priority.

Adopting a collaborative client approach internally
Marketing and BD can play a key part in understanding where a client genuinely sees value. Have you defined key clients? What stage are you at in a key client programme? How do you receive feedback to understand what clients really want? Defining clients into a key programme based on a sector and multiple practice group approach is essential, as is gaining extensive client feedback, whether that be via organic relationship review meetings or via independent listening. It is from those discussions where our clients become aware of the extended functions stated above and further services our firm can perform.

How firms are currently supporting clients as advisors from a collaborative perspective
Clients are expecting their professional services firms to be advisory and have sector expertise; putting into practice a collaborative service approach will help achieve this. Firms are often ahead of in-house teams when it comes to adopting tools, technology and new solutions. Let’s not forget that clients are interested in hearing what has worked for their competitors from a shared best practice perspective. From arranging calls or meetings with our IT leads on technology solutions, to our finance team looking at how management information can be better applied for procurement functions, to ensuring clients are front of mind for training and development sessions (both technical and soft skills) to partnering on pro-bono and charity activities, there are many ways to engage our clients beyond fee earning and to ensure measurement as genuine value add.

What does the future hold?
A number of firms are using tools to make internal processes more efficient. Demonstrating this to clients via virtual solutions led by IT teams such as shared dashboards, live matters/project information, updates on key trends and what is on the horizon are essential. In addition to this, one of the most significant recent value adds for clients is providing tools and methodologies to make their processes and teams more efficient. Adopting a broader service and delivery based approach is now seen as a real consultative solution and firms must see this as an offering alongside primary services. This is an example of real ‘innovation’.

Amit Champaneri, Committee member, PM Forum London