Consultancy Skills Toolkit

Working with Clients

Clients & Professionals Working Together

Clients and professionals do not always have comfortable relationships.

For example, some typical comments Clients make about Professionals are;

Also, some typical comments Professionals make about Clients might include;

The Clients World

They are buying your service, and almost by definition they are buying a service the details of which they donít understand and probably donít want to understand. How ideally should one handle them?

The key is to working successfully with clients is to really understand them and the world they operate in, and ensure that your actions as a consultant help rather than hinder the client-without compromising your professional standards. Three points about the clients world:

  1. They are representatives of Others
    Often, a representative for others in the customers organisation, nominated or appointed to represent them in terms of what they want and expect from you. Clients have to respond to and manage the pressures and wishes of these others - perhaps why they often change their minds frequently. They may need the professionals help in doing so.  
  2. The project to them is - "Just another brick in the wall"
    To the professional the project is very important, vital. It is their main if not sole task. To the client it is only a small part of a larger scheme. When professionals get angry at clients for changing (for example) the wording in the booklet, they forget that to the client it is not just another booklet but a Government White Paper committing the country to a new tax. Delays or weaknesses in the service provided often have a ricochet effect on the larger scheme and then on the clients career.
  3. Their future career depends on Your performance  
    For many clients the project is only a part of their working world. They have bosses, colleagues, peers, and perhaps aspirations of a career. Yet their performance in that world often depends upon the professional.

So what they invariably want from their consultant is:

It is this perspective of the client that explains the value they place on the softer peripheral aspects of the service.

The Professionals World

The main point about professionals is their specialism and expertise. They enjoy practising their craft and get a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from practising it well, as judged by their colleagues, fellow professionals at large, and of course their clients; often in that order.

They often belong to a group of similar such professionals with whom they discuss their craft, even at lunch or after hours. People outside the group often donít understand the finer nuances of their craft.

To them it is the core technical elements that is important. It is where they practice their craft, it is what that their colleagues respect, and it is often where they see as their future. And it is through this that they themselves define quality of service.