Why You Shouldn't Over-Service Your Clients

Posted by Paul Tomlin on July 14, 2014

avoid over-servicing clients

Identify over-servicing clients to avoid poor scoping, resourcing and missed milestones

Companies always want to go the extra mile for their clients, both happy and unhappy, but over-servicing those that are dissatisfied with the Professional Services they receive from your organisation often makes your staff feel just as discontented.

To give one example from within Professional Services sector; the results of a survey of 350 P.R consultancies by research firm Question & Retain reveals that:

  • 31% of the respondents agreed that over-servicing leads suggests that their PR model is not working correctly.

  • Only 3% disagreed with the above proposition.

  • 40% find it challenging to measure time effectively without agreeing that it created a drain on their profits.

  • 26% of the respondents are resigned to accepting over-servicing as “part of what you have to do to manage profit and loss.”

Of course, even though this research focuses on PR, it can be seen as representative of all Professional Services firms who share the same challenges that come with selling their time as a service.

The over-compensation trap

To address clients whose expectations haven’t been fulfilled, many of us end up overcompensating to get back on track. This leads to a number of pitfalls, which include poor scoping or resourcing, missed milestones and being unpaid for the extra completed work:

  • Clients’ demands often dilute the financial rewards if too much over-servicing is done to satisfy them.
  • Clients may begin to expect an increasing amount of work to be done free of charge and their heightened expectations become resource-consuming.
  • Staff may also feel over worked, stressed and demotivated.

Managing over-servicing

To avoid this situation, establish a service level agreement with clients and ensure that they are billed for all of the work that’s been completed on their behalf. This will set the expectations of both your company and of each of its clients.

Whilst setting out clear expectations is key, you still need to have a way to measure the work that has been done. So, think about the following too:

  1. Take a hard look at your business model to discover any issues that are leading to over-servicing and the poor usage of human, time and financial resources.

  2. Analyse what your company – and your staff - need to achieve and how best to measure key performance data and ultimately, your success.

  3. Remember that under-servicing clients is as much a sin as over-servicing them. By using an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that’s tailored for your Professional Services company, it’s possible to strike a balance between offering a high level of service and support to your clients without overusing finite resources – including billable time.

  4. Use the most appropriate and objective metrics and measure the right key performance indicators (KPIs).

  5. Avoid the blame game, ask yourself questions such as: “What do we do exactly, regardless of what is written down in our agreements?” This adds clarity of thought and particularly if clients misunderstand what your company offers. This avoids conflict.

By asking questions, ensuring that an SLA is agreed to avoid any misunderstandings, and using and analysing key performance metrics, it becomes possible to avoid over-servicing. Enterprise resource planning solutions can also ensure that all of your company’s resources are properly used to increase the profitability of your firm, to motivate your employees and to meet client expectations. This is achieved by having the right data at hand, analysing it and planning the usage and allocation of resources effectively to increase profitability.

Ensure that both your staff and clients are happy with our eGuide: Why happy clients don't always equal happy staff in a Professional Services firm