The Important Client That’s Ignored
There is a question that I asked many of you. The surprising part was that no one got the answer. The answer might not be very obvious because of the way we treat this important client of ours. In any case, this is your chance to answer the question. I hear you saying, “What is the question, Bro?”
Oops…I thought you figured it out from the headline…Anyway, here it goes…
Who is an important client that you tend to ignore?
Think and Reflect for a few minutes…I mean it…
Take some time if you need to…
Did you come up with the answer?
I doubt so…
What would you say if I tell you that the important client you tend to ignore is your business…?
Do I hear you saying, “What? Are you serious?”
The initial reaction is one of disbelief – How can this be?
But the idea seeps in within a few minutes as you start answering the following questions.
a. How do you treat your important clients?
We cater to their needs. We invest in the relationship. We do everything we can to keep them happy and engaged. Feel free to add anything else that comes to your mind.
b. Do you also treat your business the same way you treat your other important clients?
c. What are the needs of your business?
d. Do you address the needs of your business?
e. Do you take care of your business?
f. Do you invest in it?
I can add a few more questions but you will clearly see the point as you answer the above questions.
The point is that we don’t treat our business as an important client.
If we treated our business as a client, we would care, plan, execute, review and course correct just as we would for our clients.
We say that our business is important to us. We say that our business has value. But how important is it really if we don’t give attention to what our businesses really need? Will it be valuable if we don’t cater to its needs?
A world class business in our industry needs a solid value proposition…a strategy…a plan…people…processes…capital…technology…client experience…
Does your business have many of these elements? Have you invested the time, energy, attention, and capital to get these things right for your business?
The answer is a big resounding NO for many.
The biggest barrier is that most firms have too many clients and thus there is very little, or no time left for any management duties. While you are busy working in the business, there is no time to work on the business. How can you find time for the needs of your business when your schedule is filled with client meetings, industry meetings, operational issues, compliance and other urgent things? Most leaders don’t even have the time to think strategically about their business – because guess what they are busy.
And what do you think happens when your bandwidth is stretched?
There is no time to evaluate what is working and what is not…There is no time to think about strategy…There is no time to get the right people on board…There is no time to train people…And this causes clients to suffer in many ways because you are overworked and unfocused (a subject for some other day).
The reality is that for you, the business might have become your biggest client. And this client has many moving parts such as strategy, client acquisition, marketing, operations, client servicing, technology, talent capital, compliance, and many others. While your biggest client (the business) is getting more and more complex year after year, you might lack the formal training or experience in managing an enterprise with so many moving parts. Unknowingly but shockingly, your biggest client ends up getting your least attention. Because you can either serve clients well or manage the business well.
Imagine doing this to your 10 top clients.
What do you think will happen? Well…I don’t need to tell you the answer…
Just because there is no one to represent your business, you can get away easily here.
But what if your clients or a board could evaluate your business management actions, what do you think they would rate you? What would you rate yourself?
If you do this exercise honestly, I doubt you will give yourself a very high score…The idea here is not to criticize you but to help you see what needs to be done for one of your important clients or rather your biggest client.
The challenge for you is to decide where to focus. Should you give up one (managing clients) to focus on the other (managing the business) or divide your time among these important clients? It’s important to figure out who will perform some key management functions in the business. These functions are as important as client acquisition, portfolio management and compliance. And you will need high quality people in most of these functions. World class firms look at these people as investments that will provide returns rather than as costs to be contained. However, many ignore these needs of the business and simply hope their business has as much value as Prudent (a listed entity in our industry). But my friends, as we all know…Hope is Not a Strategy.