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Conducting Optimal Client-Review Meetings

Planning and communication are the keys to mutually satisfying meetings.

Client-review meetings can help you deepen client relationships, uncover any areas of dissatisfaction, identify additional services the client may need and even receive referrals. A successful meeting has three stages: pre-meeting, meeting and post-meeting.

Pre-Meeting

Stress the importance of client meetings as part of your professional relationship, and try to make meetings mandatory rather than optional. To avoid clients asking questions ahead of time rather than during the meeting, have an assistant schedule the meeting on your behalf.

Send a brief client questionnaire and agenda several weeks prior to the meeting to enable the client to gather his or her thoughts. Ask if the client has any concerns since the last meeting and if there are any agenda items to add. Be sure to ask the client for feedback on what a productive meeting would entail. You can simply ask, "What would make this a great meeting for you?" Incorporate the client's response into the agenda; participants tend to have a more positive view of a meeting in which they helped design the agenda.

Meeting

If possible, conduct client-review meetings in a conference room in your office that is free from distractions and interruptions. Meeting the client at his or her home or office is less desirable, but if it is necessary, ask that the client secure a quiet, private area for the discussion.

Go over the agenda and agree on any last-minute additions and deletions. Start the meeting on a positive note by asking about any recent personal or business accomplishments. Don't be afraid to ask about family or hobbies, since this builds a deeper relationship and makes it known you care about the person as an individual and not just as a client.

To get specific information, ask specific questions. For example: "When you've called our office, was our staff able to answer your questions?" Rather than something broad such as, "How are we doing?"

Ask a colleague to take notes so you can concentrate on asking questions; this shows clients what they say is important and it also allows you to follow up with more targeted recommendations.

Lastly, schedule your next meeting.

Post-Meeting

Follow up, in writing, with a summary of what was discussed and the next steps to be taken. This communication can be the starting point for your next meeting. A successful client meeting should leave both you and the client looking forward to the next one.

 


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