If you know anything about me, you know I have had many cats in my life. My husband and I are devoted servants to them. (Remember, cats have “staff”. You don’t “own” a cat.)
What does this have to do with global screening? Plenty. Actually, it has to do with client service and client management in general, but I relate it to global screening since cats are very complex, just like global screening. Clients and cats—very similar (and I love them both).
Cats are creatures of habit. Mess with their routine at your peril. Once, I moved a chair from the dining room to the living room and I had an elderly cat in residence. He stared at me as if he could not believe I would do such a horrible thing. The chair was perfectly fine in the dining room. Little did he know, we were going to have company and we needed more chairs in the living room. Once the guests came, the cat was thrilled. He loved guests. He put up with the chair in the wrong place because someone he liked was on the chair.
Here’s the global screening (client) analogy. When I first arrived at ClearStar, I re-arranged global searches like mad. I switched suppliers, which created new (and sometimes more difficult) ordering requirements. I took away searches and added new ones. I was on a mission to upgrade everything right away. I moved a lot of chairs. The problem is, I failed to tell current clients what I was doing or why. I didn’t give them any warning. I just moved the chairs. And then, since I didn’t communicate anything to the clients, I didn’t even bring them the good stuff (the guests they may have liked).
Lessons learned: Understand the cat’s routine before making changes. Existing entities (clients, prospects, co-workers, management) should take time to understand what is the current routine and why it is there. Switch things slowly if you must and be sensitive to the fact that the switch may create issues for the entities. Pet and comfort the cat. Communicate what you are doing and why. Give the cat time to adjust. Give clients warning of changes, if at all possible, and give them someone to talk to if they have questions or concerns.
Here’s another analogy. I’ve had a couple cats who have just been “off”. They just didn’t act themselves. Not as playful, not as vocal, tail not up, sleeping more, making more of a mess in the litter box. Sometimes we couldn’t put our finger on the exact change; we just knew they seemed “off”. Imagine telling the vet the reason for your visit is “the cat’s just not right”. Turns out, the cat had the kitty version of strep throat or was beginning to have a urinary infection or had cancer. We know our cats well and we know when something is not normal, and that usually points to something being wrong.
Pay attention to the routines of your vendors and clients. If all of a sudden, a vendor is making more mistakes, has a higher turnaround time than usual, or isn’t giving you clear answers, give them a call. It could be something going on with the vendor. Be a good partner and be sensitive to the issues your vendor may be struggling with, if you can. It could also be something going on in your organization. Maybe you have new staff, and they are not providing the right information to the vendor. If something is “different” with your client, give them a call. Maybe they are experiencing a volume surge, and you can help out. Or perhaps they have new staff and would benefit from training. Maybe your main contact at your client doesn’t even know about the issues and will discover problems once they investigate.
Lessons learned: When something about your cat seems “off”, do some investigation. Bring in the vet if you need to. Your clients and vendors have routines also, and when things are not working as they normally are, it can be a sign of a problem. Your client or vendor may not be aware of the issue. It may be uncovered when an investigation is done. Know your clients and their routines. Listen to the staff who touch these clients on a regular basis—these are usually your operations processors. Encourage them to let you know when they see a change in a client. Cultivate good relationships with your client and vendor contacts, which will allow you to have the conversation saying that something seems “off”.
And don’t forget to pet the cat.
|Kerstin Bagus – Director, Global Initiatives
Kerstin Bagus supports ClearStar’s Global Screening Program as its Director of Global Initiatives. She has more than 30 years of background screening industry experience, working for a variety of firms, large and small. Kerstin is one of the few individuals in the industry who is privacy-certified through the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) for Canada, the EU, and the U.S.
Kerstin is a passionate participant in the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA, formerly NAPBS) and is a current member of the Board, in addition to participating on several committees. She also participates on IFDAT’s Legal Committee, with a primary focus on global data privacy.
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