Shipleys LLP

Chartered Accountants and Professional Business Advisers

Key Client Programmes

Introduction

A key client programme involves working out who the key clients/ customers are and then treating them differently from ‘the rest’. It’s not that’ the rest’ are going to get bad treatment, just that we’ll routinely go the extra mile for key clients.

Selection criteria

The criteria for selecting which clients or customers are included are very flexible but usually include historic purchases, potential purchases (absolute value or current spend as a proportion of total spend in that area), profitability of their work, prestige / kudos, advocacy, fit to with plans in a niche or develop technical expertise & experience (interesting work?). It’s not about ‘big’ or ‘small’ clients.

Advantages and disadvantages

Pros

  • Pay, and quicker
  • More work, and bigger projects (cross selling), - more readily than new clients
  • Refer others, of quality
  • Improved profitability, premium rate / improved margins?
  • Stronger relationships / increased loyalty / Retain clients
  • A customer allocated an exclusive product line might contribute to its promotion
  • Collaborative / ‘extended family’ approach brings  ‘market intelligence’ and strategic opportunities
  • Quicker growth, insight into which clients are likely to grow
  • Better understanding and more focus can permit streamlined and focused processes
  • Helps  focus on value to clients, monitoring to manage cost and ensure in line with benefits
  • Some clients will want to participate.

Cons

  • Risk or alienating or neglecting ‘normal’
  • Consider selection criteria very carefully (e.g. remember referrers).
  • Delighting clients/ customers might create follow up assignments opportunities that the worker is not well placed to service. – conflict with today’s tasks
  • Management time usage
  • Potential to result in reduced margins
  • Less simple work for junior staff?
  • Independence?
  • Disruption?
  • In some industries there may be regulatory reasons to provide a ‘uniform’ service

Ideas or tips for successful implementation

What going the extra mile entails?

  1. Leadership is crucial
  2. Clarity over what is driving it
  3. Recognise it’s not an objective but part of the strategy fundamental to the objectives. (What are they?)
  4. Find out what clients really want, treat them individually, doing what’s right for each. Avoid being too prescriptive
  5. Keep it simple – avoid excessive planning – focus on the meaningful chat with the client -potentially begun by the supplier ‘sharing insights’
  6. Internal ‘dragons den’ feedback reports can help ensure ‘action’. Monitor say quarterly, including introductions.
  7. They are evolving things requiring ongoing adjustments
  8. Make sure the cost to us is in line with the benefit / value to the client
  9. Company wide (but not all clients to participate)
  10. A client charter?
  11. Avoid thinking that just buying software is the same thing!
  12. Avoid conflicts of interest
  13. Ensure all aspects of the business are aligned to the programme so messages are valid – e.g. marketing.