Investing in relationships by adding value

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While “adding value” has become a catchphrase for professional services firms, what does it actually mean?  If you are giving satisfaction doing what the client pays for, does that meet the “adding value” challenge?

Certainly it’s the basis for a healthy relationship, but I believe more can be done in adding value to any service provided.

In my view, if real value is being added to a relationship, a professional firm should be giving a little bit more than what is covered in any contract or agreement.

To me it means being generous with your time and knowledge and not only meeting the firms’ obligations, but adding to them in ways that helps clients.

For example, at Pritchitt Partners we hold regular functions to bring clients together with journalists and others in a relaxed and useful way. One such event, together with our Value Alliance associates, is a reception every January when we have a Guest of Honour.

We also try to be generous with our time and have the overall philosophy of being on our client’s team – so we’re always trying to do what is best for them. This means not only getting them the best deal possible, but passing on any discounts or commissions.

This approach not only adds to our own professional satisfaction and helps us cement relationships with existing clients, it is also useful in business development.

Being generous with time, and working to help clients beyond the contract, usually means new ideas are developed, which in turn helps develop new activities.

Our clients are not only the basis of our business; they are also a major source of new business, in themselves and through referrals.

Word of mouth is always the strongest driver of referrals for a professional service firm and its marketing should always be aiming to enhance this.  Existing clients should be a firm’s best advocates.

Marketing to existing clients is the easiest discipline of all because of existing relationships and ease of contact – or at least it should be.

All professional firms looking to expand should be involved in building relationships that offer clients new ideas and opportunities and have strategies in place that create ongoing and regular contact with clients to enhance relationships.

Personal contact is still key and it should not be difficult to develop activities that involve clients in a way that they see is adding value to the relationship.

Social media is one vehicle that provides a cost effective way of creating new opportunities for contact with clients and providing them with insights.

Professional firms need to understand how to communicate through social media – whether it is through avenues such as Twitter to draw attention to developments and provide instant and useful information, or through chat rooms on websites, and regular blogs on subjects useful to clients.  These also show expertise and knowledge not just to clients but to all website visitors.

On the other hand, emailed information or newsletters that are already two months out of date are inevitably counter-productive, as are websites that are not frequently updated.