[IMGCAP(1)]Someone has an off day and doesn’t give great service. A communication mishap between the relationship partner and your technology consultant delays implementation of a key software update for a few days. A new senior on the account pesters the client with questions they should have known the answers to, had they asked the relationship partner. An invoice goes out the door 20 percent higher than the estimate due to “scope creep” that wasn’t proactively discussed with the client.

Unfortunately, with a large client that uses many services and crosses paths with numerous service professionals, these missteps are bound to happen. If they happen at a frequency of one or two a year, everything will probably be just fine long term. However, if they are concentrated into a short window of time, you could have a serious problem on your hands and a client ready to “shop you” as soon as spring arrives. Even if they don’t actively shop you, they may be less impervious to your competition’s advances.

This is one of the double-edged blades of cross-selling – you need to cross-sell to add the high-value services and boost long-term client retention, but each additional service adds a small layer of complexity to an already complex service relationship. If not managed well, these additional services can become a liability.

This is why, as managing partner, you need to have your fingers on the pulse of satisfaction of the firms’ largest and most cross-sold clients. So, before the client has the chance to “shop you” post-March 15 or April 15, go out and meet with the client about their level of satisfaction with your firm. Ask them these questions:

1.    Do we understand and meet your key expectations?
2.    Do you feel as if you are a valued client of the firm?
3.    Rate us on responsiveness, accessibility, and knowledge of your business and industry.
4.    Do we demonstrate investment in your success, and are we bringing proactive ideas to you on a regular basis?
5.    Are our invoices always within the range of what you expect?
6.    What do you like most and least about working with us?
7.    What’s important to you that we’re not offering?
8.    How can we help to address your most significant challenges in the next 12 months?

As managing partner, the buck stops with you. You need to be 100 percent confident that the firm is doing everything it can to retain its best clients, and frank, open discussions with clients help us to discover what we’re doing well, what we’re not, and how we can change to make the client experience better in the future. So, what are you waiting for? Another client to shop you to the competition?

As the director of practice growth and marketing consulting services at Koltin Consulting Group, Art Kuesel helps firms grow and add millions of dollars of revenue to their top lines. Reach Art at 312-662-6010 or akuesel@koltin.com.