Client relationships

Case study: International Financial Services group

The challenge: This organisation has faced a sharp increase in competition recently following intense regulatory scrutiny of its sector and deregulation. It faced pressure on their fees and lost clients to competitors. Gulland Padfield partners shaped a programme of change to deliver alignment for the whole organisation around client needs.

Our approach: Gulland Padfield partners implemented a programme of ‘client-centric’ transformation with the following elements:

  1. Setup and launch of a key account programme. This includes an ongoing internal communications campaign in support of the programme, and defining the role of key client champions.
  2. The development of a coaching curriculum for all staff to focus on delivering consistently excellent client service across the organisation.
  3. The alignment of HR competencies and incentive frameworks to support improved client service.
  4. A series of actions to minimise the silo mentality and provide tools for improved client management across international offices and service lines.
  5. The development of company-wide reporting for KPIs and soft metrics to monitor client performance, identify opportunities and deepen client relationships.
  6. Creation of a platform of management information to identify client needs and work with the organisation to deliver to their expectations.

The challenge:The outcome:

  1. Clients have responded very favourably to the new key account programme – relationships have stabilised and revenue has increased.
  2. Client teams now work effectively across country offices and service lines to identify commercial opportunities and to plan strategic developments and updates for their clients.
  3. Internal teams are meeting with clients according to the structures set out in the key account programme, rather than on an ad hoc basis.
  4. The coaching curriculum is being rolled out across the organisation and improvements are already being seen.
  5. Standardisation of client facing communications templates and formats across the whole organisation have created a perception that the group is more a unified organisation.

Lessons learned. The next evolution in client relationship programmes

Delivering consistent client service across a global or international network is a major challenge for leading service firms in banking and professional services.

As their needs have changed, clients have put pressure on their advisors to deliver more and to deliver it better. This in turn, presents a challenge for management teams responsible for creating a consistent service proposition across each geography in which their firm has a presence.

A focus on capturing and acting on the ‘client voice’ is key to building this consistent service approach. We see the evolution of a new generation of structured client engagement programmes. Business service firms are investing meaningful resource after many years when the volume of advisory work concealed patchy quality in client relationships. The downturn has been a catalyst for a new determination to tackle the issue which increasingly international clients want to engage with their advisors.

However, few advisory firms use their deeper knowledge of client needs effectively. They are not conducting the necessary programme of initiatives to align their organization around the client voice to deliver a consistent client experience.

How do senior management teams of professional firms successfully implement a programme to change behaviors in response to the client voice? How can you ensure successful alignment of your people around client needs to drive growth and profitability?

We offer 3 suggestions for those seeking to successful implement a programme to drive a more consistent client service approach aligned with their strategy:

  1. Ensure your organisation’s leadership demonstrates its commitment to the programme
    It is vital for the success of any change programme to deliver consistent client service levels to have senior involvement. Senior management must set out why alignment around your clients’ international or global needs is important. They must demonstrate the importance of the programme and its role as part of your organisation’s growth strategy. And its importance to the careers of all individuals within the organisation, whether client facing or not.
  2. Align the different areas of your organisation around the programme
    Ensure there is coordination between all the relevant areas of your organisation in implementing areas of any programme. For example, branding, internal or external communications and HR must all work to embed the client voice and the firm’s response. Any behaviours which you want to encourage, such as more team collaboration across different countries, should be duplicated and reinforced as part of your organisation’s brand values, HR competencies and incentives, and in the coaching and training curriculum across the firm.
  3. Involve the local teams in the organisation to shape and deliver a ‘glocal’ programme
    Involve individuals from different regions of your organisation to shape the overall programme and its local elements. Identify realistic and practical deliverables in each region. Pilot the various elements of the project (e.g. a more standardised way of managing key points along the client relationship) across different regions. Front-line employees on the ground are likely to have a strong understanding of regional variations of their client’s needs and any potential issues with implementing a global approach. Build an understanding of any barriers to change.

To discuss how we can support your organisation’s renewal of its client relationship programme or for more information on how we help businesses to win, keep and deepen client relationships, email us at