Client Management-A Critical Tool
In the search for a sustainable competitive advantage, professional services marketers often overlook the obvious: superior client service. In a market where it is becoming easy for competitors to match technical service skills, pricing, distribution, and promotion, it may be that superior client service will be the only way for a professional service firm to differentiate itself. Although client management is a relevant tactic to consider for all four strategic options for growth (as discussed in Chapter Three), it is clearly more central to the implementation of a market penetration or market development strategy. In fact, client management will be instrumental for any professional practice wishing to maintain and build market share, either in their present market or through expansion into new geographic markets. The client management concept should be considered part of the practice philosophy for all or most professional firms. Client management is a tactical management tool that, in reality, is an umbrella for a number of activities. Thus, the key to understanding and implementing a client management program is to think comprehensively about the professional practice. Client management should be seen as a solution to managing and overcoming the difficulties caused by the Four I's of professional services (intangibility, inventory, inconsistency, and inseparability).