The Performance Group “TPG” Provides Tips on How to Demonstrate Value as a Professional Service Provider

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For companies that sell services, justifying labor projections and demonstrating value can be difficult. At TPG, we’ve established a few measurable goals and objectives to help service providers stay on task and validate their worth.

Companies that don’t sell tangible products can sometimes leave themselves exposed to loosely defined terms and subjective opinions about performance. Take, for example, a service professional who’s been hired by an organization to improve executive communication. What are the indicators of good quality service? Who measures the effectiveness of the service engagement and how often? What are the rules for additional hours and evolving goals?

As an event management agency, TPG provides its clients with several types of professional services that include program management, strategy development, marketing, technology, and registration customer service. To help us measure our success, we’ve created a few rules of engagement to help offset potential challenges. All of the suggestions outlined below emphasize relationships – after all, most service providers are selling their employees’ time and talent.

Setting Clear Expectations
Before a project gets underway, third party service providers need to sit down with their clients to establish mutual goals and objectives. Each party must gain a clear understanding of project deliverables, effective key dates, project milestones, and payment schedules. Once expectations have been set, service providers should solicit input from their clients to determine how best to measure the effectiveness of their work. This benefits both parties by leaving fewer things open to interpretation. Service providers who gain full understanding of their client’s goals are better able to showcase how their services helped them reach those goals. Post-engagement surveys and debrief meetings are also effective ways for service providers to see how they ranked.

Contract Terms
Service providers need to get everything down in writing before they begin a project. The client and supplier contract negotiation period is the perfect opportunity to set clear terms for both parties. Agree to get very detailed about performance metrics and mechanisms. If, for example, “responsiveness” is being measured, find out what that means exactly - does it mean calling the client back in twenty-four hours or four hours? Service providers should also spell-out project start and end dates. Partnerships based on a handshake are susceptible to scope creep. The contract should include a scope-of-service that outlines what is and what is not included in the project deliverables. Service providers also need to find out who on the client side has the authority to accept and sign-off on additional labor hours. Remember, once a formal contract is signed, it’s easier to move into a more creative partnership!

Establishing a Relationship
Clients generally pick vendors who offer a set of skills that match their business needs. But in the service world, there is usually something more behind the choice – an emotional connection. In the service industry, relationships play a key role in driving business results. With this in mind, service providers need to be accessible, flexible and, most importantly, forward thinking. They should take a consultative approach and present ways to elevate solutions and deliverables. In the end, it’s about providing strong business value and offering good customer service. According to a global survey by Accenture, 64% of consumers said they'd stopped doing business with a company due to poor customer service in 2013. Service providers need to value their partnerships, keeping them productive and positive.

Transparency
Professional service providers can draw from a variety of pricing models and payment schedules. Those who bill hourly should expect their clients to ask for labor back-up. When this occurs, providers need to find out how their client wants to see labor reported and how often. To avoid surprises, service providers must notify their clients before going out of scope, and they should offer alternative solutions for staying within the budgeted hours. If cost savings have been negotiated on the client’s behalf, a detailed summary should be provided at the end of the project so that the client can clearly see the added value. Finally, service providers must communicate job status updates early and often - nobody wants surprises on their final bill.

To learn more about how TPG’s services and employees drive business results, visit our blogs & videos at http://www.tpgnc.com/blog.html

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Stuart Patton
The Performance Group
+1 (510) 923-7169
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