If you run a client services organization, then you know one of the worst things that can happen is to lose a services delivery manager—that main client contact—in an abrupt manner. Clients lose confidence in your organization; services will suffer; important knowledge and information does not pass to the next employee; bad turnover suggests organizational problems and a bad future outlook to clients. It’s bad for business!
Invista Performance Solutions (IPS) is a client-driven services organization. We have 30 diverse clients in our portfolio and each of those clients has many points of human contact for managing the project side of the learning and development services we provide. IPS works very hard to ensure that every customer gets the time and attention they deserve according to our Customer Experience philosophy.
As Senior Project Manager for IPS, I have held this role since 2010. That is over 7 years of long-term client relationships which I have sustained and nurtured and hundreds of projects. And now, I am leaving to take a new step in my career at a community college on the East Coast.
I feel an obligation to carefully transition my clients, to do minimal damage to the web of relationships that has sustained our operation these past 7 years. How do I do that?
To prepare for the transition I worked closely with the team at IPS and did some research first. The major point in all of the research was an emphasis on the personal aspect of transitioning client services. It didn’t neglect what keeps services moving uninterrupted—the facts and figures of client contracts, contacts, and details about services, but concentrated on how to transition a client from one account manager to a new account manager highlighting the importance of interpersonal skills. It is those skills that become the vehicle on which the contract and projects rest; therefore, they too are essential.
As a DiSC© personality type ‘i’ (Influential, People-Oriented), the interpersonal was my natural first concern. I planned in-person meetings with clients to introduce them to their new project manager. I made personal phone calls to instructors to share my news with them and discuss transition plans for our projects.
And because the new project manager is a ‘D’ (Dominant, Task-Oriented), I covered all the pertinent details about open projects and answered all the new manager’s questions. I also made tasks and follow up lists organized by client, project, and instructor. I delivered all the resources and plans within my span of management.
The combination of our personality types has made for a well-rounded transition. Clients and instructors have all heard from or met us to make a personal connection. And we identified and handed off all the tasks required to complete the projects.
Here are some steps I recommend for transitioning clients:
- Craft a communication plan in advance and plan methods of communicating appropriately to your clients
- Meet face to face to make personal introductions of the client contact to the new account manager
- Use email or phone calls to make personal introductions when face to face meetings are not possible
- Provide detailed information to the new account manager about the client’s project details.
- Do not neglect to describe the human side of the relationship and the client’s style and preferences for communication by taking into careful consideration how the new account manager and the client will mesh. The DiSC profile as a descriptive tool is very useful here.
It’s time to say good-bye! I’m happy to say I’m leaving IPS in the best possible manner I can because I would not wish to undo any of the hard work, relationships, and project success I helped create and now must pass on to another person. I care about the team and want to leave them set up for future success. Best wishes to all!