Client Relationships: What’s Our Score?

Jennifer Cosenza, Senior Vice President, Strategic Accounts

by Jennifer Cosenza, Senior Vice President, Strategic Accounts As Senior Vice President of Strategic Accounts, Jennifer Cosenza brings to Scivantage 11 years of relationship management experience alongside an expansive knowledge of wealth reporting and B2B trading systems. Responsible for overseeing strategic relationships at Scivantage, Ms. Cosenza manages the development and implementation of account plans, inside sales account activity and overall client relationships.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have high expectations. Striving for perfection and a controlled environment is something that is comforting to me. There isn’t usually a day that goes by that I don’t think (or act) in that manner. However, business doesn’t always happen that way, I get that. Yet it is still important in our careers to strive for something better and score yourself on the progress (or lack thereof) that you have made. “What’s our score” is something that should be in all of our minds as we manage our business and our client relationships. A client scorecard is something that helps do just that. Particularly as a business or department is working towards transformation, change and improvement. A scorecard can help highlight areas that still need improvement so that actionable steps can be taken to get better and drive client growth. Here are the three steps to building a client scorecard:

Step 1: The Foundation

A client scorecard should reflect all of the disciplines/departments within the business that play a role in supporting and growing a client relationship – even finance plays a role that is often overlooked. Ask yourself questions such as, are we billing according to contracts, are we meeting our SLA’s, are we resolving defects timely, what is the quality of our releases, and are we communicating effectively to share our vision, product enhancements and strategy? Draft a framework where these topics can be highlighted for both the client and the partner. Essentially, you are creating a structure where there can be two grades –- one from the client and one from your business. For each discipline, create some measurable, quantitative measurements to score your firm and have your client score against. (A note on grades: I prefer a Red-Yellow-Green grading system as it is a straight-forward categorization. Your business may prefer a number scale, but I’d suggest not having too many “levels” as the process can become overwhelming and if 1-10, a client may never reach a 10.)

Step 2: The Conversation

The conversation is a unique aspect to the scorecard process. This is where you meet with your client and discuss the areas that were scored. The key to this is to have an open, friendly debate about the different disciplines, why your firm scored something one way and the client a different way. An example could be, your firm recently released code into production which had fewer defects than the last code release (and as a business you heard less client concerns). So, as a firm, you scored that area green. However the client, while acknowledging that there were fewer defects in this release, still had defects and concerns…so they scored that release a yellow (meaning there is still work to do). The discussion would center on the different viewpoints, and how you each got to those conclusions. The point is not to “settle” on a status, but to identify what needs to happen to move all categories to a green status.

The Final Step: The Action

Taking action is the final step in any relationship process and there certainly is no exception in scorecards. You want to create and document a call–to-action on the areas of the scorecard that need improvement as well as what each firm (client and business) will do differently in order to improve for the next measurement. As you document and take action, don’t forget to communicate progress with the client. A true partnership within a client relationship is possible only with action and communication. Doing what you say you’re going to do is key in any relationship.

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