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Case Study #9

Key Clients at Risk of Feeling “Taken for Granted?”

Consider your Firm’s largest and longest-standing clients.  Among them may be Fortune 500 companies or other important entities that share relationships with the Firm going back more than one generation of partners and conceivably representing an irreplaceable slice of the Firm’s annual revenue.

During our in-person Client Interviews with executives of such Key Clients, we have frequently encountered their feelings of being “taken for granted,” attributable to any of a number of reasons, such as:

1.     Bumbled Transitions — Including overdue replacements, unaddressed succession planning, or diminution – for various reasons – of the lead partner’s effectiveness.

2.     Relentless Competitive Intrusions — Initiated by other firms attempting to get their “nose under the tent” and providing comparatively superior service when they do.

3.     Communications Shortfalls — Such as failing to remind and assure the client regarding how hard the Firm is working on the client’s behalf and how much the client is “loved.”

4.     Low Proactivity — Including too little effort to “surprise and delight,” introduce new ideas, or show interest in enhancing the relationship and maximizing the value of services.

5.     Suspicions About the Firm’s Culture — Such as compensation systems that underpay working on established clients and instead over-emphasize the acquisition of new clients.

6.     Resentments About the Firm’s Priorities — Including management’s greater interest in mergers, laterals and new offices than in providing outstanding service to existing clients.

7.     Lack of Face Time — Including partners’ not meeting often enough with their clients’ executives, resulting in some competitors’ partners achieving more effective relationships.

8.     Attitude of Entitlement — As one client executive said, referring to the partners at his company’s primary firm:  “They should treat us like an account they had just won.  For example, in presentations, they should always attempt to make the best impression.”


Aronson/Heintz Associates LLC
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