Being a Good Client

Being well organized can help maximize the effectiveness of your service providers

I just read an article by a professional service provider in a totally different field than school safety. Part of the title referred to being a good client. He has been a client numerous times in his field working with a variety of expert service providers around the country, and the article spoke to various gray areas that come up between service providers and people and organizations that retain their services. 

He made some excellent points in the article. I thought that something a bit similar might be helpful to campus safety officials and their service providers.

During my master’s work in quality service management, I was trained to think in terms of the service provider taking responsibility for communications with clients, quality assurance, matching services to client needs etc. At the same time, I have also found that service providers can usually provide more to their clients when there exists a true spirit of  collaboration, communication and concern for the other parties in a project. 

For example, we were able to produce an additional 10 custom video table top training scenarios at no cost for one client because she was very organized while our video crew was on site for filming. The time she saved turned out to be enough for her to triple her deliverables in this area at no cost. That is a pretty big win for the client.

Starting with an assumption that the service provider does a good job on their end, my experience has been that the organization being served will get more out of the provider if they also take the same approach (which many if not most do). 

While there are instances when a service provider does not take the best approach and this must be addressed, a client can get more from their time and money investment in a service provider if they are thoughtful in:  

  • Defining what their needs and expectations are 
  • Defining their deadlines
  • Providing early awareness about any unique challenges such as political climate, sensitive issues, etc.
  • Requiring the service provider to do the same for them
  • Promptly answering questions, requests for clarification, etc.
  • Communicating patiently and clearly with the service provider
  • Paying close attention to logistical details  

While many of these may be spelled out in contracts, proposals and documents provided by the service provider, a good old fashioned discussion to clarify things can really help create a win-win situation. I hope all of your communications with service providers go well to enable you to better serve others.    

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About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at [email protected]. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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