One of the most irritating things about working in professional services and dealing with clients is the coordination of documentation transfer. Some friends of mine have recently started a business called Sqrl where they are trying to make this process seamless, as it can be a mess. If you’re looking for an “old school” way to do it, try this Excel tracker I created. It has a calculation of the % of items received, pending, and requested. Most clients have a love/hate relationship with the moving percentage, but they appreciate that you’re prepared.
Depending upon the job, I tried to send an updated status of the “outstanding items” every single day. To make sure I got everything, I had all items sent to me and then I would distribute them to the team members.
While this seems like it takes extra time, don’t fool yourself. If you’re working with other team members, especially if they’re more junior than you, they may not know what the document is. But when you send it to them and let them know it’s related to “X” area, they’re going to get started.
If you're not loving the Excel tracker I linked above, no worries! Ryan Watson came on the podcast and shared Sqrl with us. It's currently a free tool that allows you to white-label requests to clients and reduce the time spent transferring files and following up on requests. Check it out today at GetSqrl.com.
To check out the podcast with Ryan, here it is:
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Always invite them to lunch
I know it can be awkward sometimes, but there really is so much to talk about. Here are some basic questions I always default to to pass the time:
- How long have you worked here?
- Where did you go to university?
- Do you have any children?
- What does your wife/husband do?
- Do you travel to other parts of the country?
- How was your weekend?
- Where did you work before this?
- How many living grandparents do you have? (kidding: unless somehow in contest or there has been a moment of silence for 25+ minutes. If you used this, email me and let me know what happened!)
Then, if they aren’t a complete snoozefest, you’ll go through the same questions about yourself and everyone else at the table. The key is to be genuine and think of the long-term. You may work with the client for 3, 5, or 10 years. Don't you want them to be happy and respect you? Put the time in upfront to show you care.
Never accuse them, just ask
Once I had a client who had multiple employees in the payroll system who were receiving paychecks at her home address. After a fairly thorough investigation, we came up with a complete understanding and there was no foul play at all.
There are people who literally tell the client, “this is fraud” without getting all the facts. It’s always best to play dumb and give clients the benefit of the doubt. After all, they are probably much smarter than you and they definitely know more about the business than you do. It’s their job.
Accusing them of an error or fraudulent activity will most likely just end with you being completely schooled on something you don’t understand. Never accuse, just ask.
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