06 Jul Granular level communication – Key for consultants
By Dave Racer, MLitt[i]
Normally, I would not write a piece like this, using DCI as an example for consultants. Yet I believe it is a vitally necessary and important message for all consultants, no matter your area of interest.
Our company, Dattilo Consulting, Inc., consults with employers about group benefits.
Recently, while attending a company staff meeting at DCI, I realized an incredibly important fact about what it takes for any consultant to be successful. I know all the people at DCI, and they are each talented, experienced and committed to serving clients and their employees. What I did not know is the granular level at which they communicate with each other to ensure they’re crossing all the “t’s” and dotting all the “i’s” on behalf of their clients. What I saw at that staff meeting is a model for any employee benefits consulting firm.
Employee benefits are made more valuable when each worker knows that his or her employer pays attention to personal details about them. Employers, of course, must always make profitable productivity a primary company goal.
Employee benefits are complicated, tuned as they are to individual needs but within a group structure. They’re made more complicated by federal and state laws, regulations, vendor contracts, time requirements, life events, and more. Hence, employers and H.R. turn to benefits consultants, like Dattilo Consulting, Inc., for support.
The consultant cannot deliver value without taking internal communications within his or her business seriously. “Good internal communication benefits organizations by aligning, connecting and engaging all members of the organization towards a collective, common goal.”[ii]
Because it matters
Each client matters. Each employee of each client matters. Each employee’s dependents affected by the benefits plan matters. The consultant can only achieve his or her company goals by making sure to take care of the client’s employees – and this means working hard at communicating with each other as the client’s support team.
At the DCI staff meeting I attended, each person carefully discussed details by employee name, about the status of active cases which the company managed in support of clients. It impressed me that DCI’s staff members took care to call employees by name and attend to their unique needs. Everyone on the DCI staff would know, or at least have a good idea, of the status of each person’s tasks.
Not only that, but the staff reviewed internal processes to look for gaps that need more attention, or improvement, and reviewed each other’s schedules.
On a daily basis, each staff member keeps notes about their work product. They share these notes with each other on a master record and with the company’s management staff. Everyone helps everyone else serve all clients, providing long term stability and security for employers and employees. This creates continuity within the consultant’s office to deliver a better level of service.
It takes work to communicate at this level. It impressed me that DCI understood that to help its clients move “towards a collective, common goal” of business success means spending time and considerable energy communicating with each other.
Benefit consultants are no different from other service providers. They deal with a crush of details, often too many at one time. The “tyranny of the urgent” (getting things done just because there is so much to do) could negatively affect quality. This makes internal, granular-level communication among support staff even more important. This does not happen by accident – time must be scheduled for this vital task.
It is personally gratifying to observe a group of people function as a team to serve clients by working so hard at communicating with each other. It takes an understanding that attention to detail pays its own rewards and is at least one reason why DCI has historically retained 97 percent of its clients year-over-year.