According to recent studies, between 68% and 82% of customers will stop using a company’s services because they believe the company doesn’t care or have had a poor customer service experience. In the security industry, most companies charge their operations departments (OPS) with managing those aspects of the customer relationship. For OPS, overseeing customer service and experience usually entails managing client communications and their company’s responsiveness. Simultaneously, OPS is also tasked with ensuring that security officers are well trained and well matched to their posts.
But the reality of most operations departments is that most of their time is spent filling posts, managing disciplinary issues, getting new officers trained, etc. Accomplishing those critical tasks usually leaves little time to have meaningful communications with the customer. So who is truly communicating with the customer? If there is no one other than OPS responsible for that crucial function, you run the risk of not capitalizing on opportunities to show your customers you care.
So how do you ensure that your customers needs are always met? With a client advocate of course.
What is a Client Advocate
By definition, a client advocate is one or more people within your organization who is entrusted to study client needs and help your company satisfy those needs in a cost effective and timely manner. In a security company, ideally, client advocates should not be part of OPS. In most organizations, the business development representative who acquired the contract would be a logical choice. They already have a cursory understanding of the client’s business, as well as having established some level of trust. In other organizations, a member of the executive management team might be the better choice. Whomever the client advocate is, they will need the support of the management team and a seat at the table for client related discussions.
Client Advocate Goals
If you decide to implement a client advocacy program at your company, here are several goals that you should establish for the client advocate:
- Be the voice of the client – When internal discussions are occurring regarding the client, the client advocate should be the voice of the client. They are responsible for seeing the discussion through the client’s eyes and aggressively protecting the client if necessary.
- Understand the client’s needs and vision – The client advocate should know how the security program affects the client and plays into the client’s overall departmental and organizational goals.
- Find the middle ground – The client advocate is responsible for making sure that a balance is struck between the client’s goals and needs and your company’s goals and needs. If the two conflict, it is the client advocates goal to facilitate a win-win situation for both organizations.
- Be dedicated to getting answers – The client advocate figures out what safety/security related questions clients have and gets those questions answered. That means whether the question is about your organization’s services, or some other product or service, they find the answer. Being the “Go-to-Guy” for these types of answers also represents a great value added service.
Whether you have one client advocate or dozens, they need to be champions for your customers and be capable of getting results; All while understanding the operational needs of your organization. Remember, if your client is not talking to you about challenges or issues, then they are probably talking to your competition about them.
By Courtney Sparkman