Yes, you did read that title! This is what happened when three Accounting firms banned chase up emails and chase up letters for managing clients. Let’s be honest, wouldn’t you like to know what happened?
Many businesses need to chase clients to get things done. Examples being Accounting firms, Lawyers, designers (graphic and web).
You know the sort of thing. You can’t proceed until the client does something, sends data, agrees text, content or numbers, and countless other things.
Managing clients can be a pain! However done properly it means your workload is more controlled, your cash-flow improves and the clients think more positively about your services.
You’re into project management
If you think otherwise, think again. Increasingly in today’s society things are more complex, involving more interchange between client, professional and perhaps other parties. Two reasons for the increased emphasis in managing clients are shorter timescales and busier lives we all live.
Core to project management is checking everybody in the process has what they need, is doing what they should and knows what’s going on.
A project management approach to managing clients, and running a firm, would look at each planned transaction and give it a schedule. This would help smooth workload over the year. You would focus on managing clients into a schedule that suits you both. That would involve communication and perhaps some incentives.
Allowing for unplanned transactions, or managing late running ones, is of course critical. Managing those unplanned transactions needs the same skills as the planned ones, but with less focus on the time of year.
Both planned and unplanned transactions need you, and the client, to know where things are at any moment and when the next step will occur.
- Smoother workflow – why accept that so much work needs to be done in December and January, just because you’re an accountant.
- Better cash-flow – getting jobs turned around more quickly and spread across the year is better for cash-flow. No a job isn’t finished until the bills gone out and been paid.
- Happier clients. One of the most common grumbles (maybe unfairly) from clients is that they don’t know what’s happening at each stage of the job. Maybe that’s because in other areas of their lives communication is overdone (I had 4 emails about the order, dispatch and delivery of my recent purchases). Maybe it’s just that we all like to feel more in control of our lives. Either way better client communications, leads to better feelings of service.
This doesn’t have to involve clever software, but it may be easier if it does. With, or without software, project management skills are important.
Engagement and client service
What’s any of this go to do with emails? Well, as these three firms focused on project management and improved communications they said they would not chase up late clients with emails or letters. They were finding such emails appeared to get ignored, or simply add to client stress.
They did something radical, they picked up the phone! The result, data got sent in more quickly and the client was able to deal with any other questions they had at the same time. That’s increased engagement with clients (ignored emails are not engagement), leading to extra client service and improved cash flow.
Something to think about when you next manage (chase up) a client…..