• Olefile Moea, Executive Director

Establishing the client relationship right from the start

If you are in the business of administration, it is vital to make the connection with the client right from the outset. This reassures the client and lays the groundwork for future communication.

Getting the relationship right from the outset is particularly important in the case of account transfers from one administrator to another. Accounts may be handed over without sufficient data and/or clients may be confused or even angry about how matters have been handled in the past. You may need to rebuild a level of trust.

Here is a short checklist that may help in minimising disruption for the client and ensuring that you can establish that all-important relationship from the outset.

  • Make sure you get as much accurate data as possible from the previous administrator. If there is not sufficient information, you will need to enlist external or in-house tracing services.

  • Once you know the identity particulars are correct, ensure the first income payment is made as swiftly as possible – families may be in a desperate situation.

  • Then send out a standard welcome pack. Let the client know you care about the wellbeing of the family and the beneficiary. This could include a member guide about how your product works, contact numbers, procedures about how to apply for funds and a fee schedule.

  • At this stage the new client should be able to slot into your daily processes and regular communication programme.

  • At this stage the new client should be able to slot into your daily processes and regular communication programme.

  • Best practice channels of accessibility include contact centres, walk-in centres, SMS and roadshows – as well as an ability to provide the language of choice of the client.

One of the keys to success is active communication. It is also very important that staff are as caring as possible and trained in the softer skills of people management. They need to provide a sense of security, explain things clearly and work towards “stabilising” a new client.

Your systems should be able to flag special situations, such as if an account is due to terminate or if the client has special needs. In these cases, additional documentation may need to be sought and a higher level of care provided.

Last but by no means least, have a written procedure for how to handle transfers. This written procedure will help guide all stakeholders in the process, be they IT, finance or operational staff.

In summary, the client must come first and this means from the very outset.