Whether you want to win a new account or grow and retain an existing client, tender preparation is an opportunity to map out how your firm can (and will) deliver first-rate service. In the flurry to submit tenders, bids, or proposals many professional services firms miss the chance to create an effective client service plan.
Make your tender effort count and stand out. Rather than simply cutting and pasting old material, or providing a perfunctory update, develop a relevant and tailored client service plan in anticipation of your win. Then, come negotiation or appointment time, you can face your client with a clear sense of purpose – you and your team will know what’s been promised, what you need to implement, and how you will go about delivering on your promises.
Ideas for your client service plan
When you are preparing your next tender response, keep client service top of mind and focus on:
- setting expectations (and perhaps boundaries) on service standards, and how you’ll go the extra mile
- outlining communication and touch points for each phase of the project, from initial receipt of instructions through to completion
- allocating a dedicated client relationship partner/account manager/team
- scheduling regular formal relationship review meetings with key personnel
- describing escalation procedures for queries and complaints
- defining timeframes for reporting and billing
- setting up your system for custom reports and invoices, and including examples to show the client what they can expect
- planning for value added service delivery, not just making vague promises.
Remember, the more concrete and actionable your plan is, the more sophisticated and desirable you will look to tender evaluators.
Once appointed, your tender response becomes a valuable reference tool or “client bible” to guide your team on deliverables, standards, and expectations.
During a tender process, you really do have the client’s full attention on the bigger client service issues. So in addition to formulating a detailed client service plan, use the tender process to:
- breathe new life into an existing client relationship by showcasing any new team members or enhanced service capabilities you have that they may be unaware of
- re-engineer workflows and service models to increase efficiency and profitability
- report back to the client on other changes and improvements your firm has made since the last tender, especially anything that you have done in response to feedback from that client
- work out your profitability, true cost of production, and resourcing issues to support pricing and alternative pricing options
- identify gaps in your expertise, technology, procedures, and policies and how to address them
- find and present ways you can help your client save money and/or time
- produce an alternative tender – this may be an alternative pricing proposal, fully fledged innovation, or even a way to respectfully re-scope the original RFT by showing them how you’d do things differently, tackling issues your client may not have considered, or offering them something significant they didn’t know they needed.
Don’t squander your tender preparation and subsequent win: get smart and set the right tone for your service relationship by doing the hard work upfront to create an effective client service plan.
Tender readability remains a problem for some in the 21st century. I still see submission documents that cling to a handful of really old hat tender presentation and formatting techniques. I suspect this is because some of these ‘rules’ are viewed as being more appropriate to a ‘formal’ style of document such as a tender. […]