Are You Externally Focused Enough?

My boss posed to me this question the other day, and it really got me thinking.  In my current role, I’m asked to play both a management role but also be a primary client relationship manager for clients at SVB.  In reality though, everyone in our organization should think of themselves as playing a client facing role, but my team and I actually own our clients at Silicon Valley Bank, and that means that we should be primarily outwardly focused from our organization.

He suggested looking at our emails to determine how externally focused we were, so I devised a plan with his guidance.  I went through one month’s worth of sent emails (I chose February), and segregated them into one of four buckets:  Clients, Other External, Internal, and Friends/Family.  I was a little nervous going through the process, but ended up finding it to be a really enlightening process, and I suggest you go through this exercise as well to get a feel of who you’re really “talking” with the most.

Now I’m not under any disillusion that email is the only form of contact with clients and others, and I also know that many internal emails are directly impacting client experience here at SVB.  We do a ton of face-to-face meetings, telephone calls, ballgames, concerts, etc. that all involve client interaction but that wouldn’t necessarily show up in this “study”. But, it is an interesting proxy and a place to start in getting a feel for where you’re at from an email interaction standpoint and understanding better where you’re spending your time.

So I went through 1,600+ emails (Outlook ends up being great for this type of project, as they count the emails for you).  I set up sub-folders for each of the categories, and started dumping my sent emails into the appropriate sub-folders.  I quickly realized that I didn’t need an internal folder, as the majority of my email stream was internal, so I started just focusing on those emails that fit into one of the other 3 categories.  The following are my results (which I realize open me up to tremendous scrutiny, but I’m ok with that):

  • Clients – 20%
  • Other External – 5%
  • Internal – 60%
  • Friends/Family – 15%

What shocked me the most wasn’t the 60% level of internal emails (although I’d like to get this below 50%), but is the fact that only 15% is spent on friends and family.  I thought that this would be higher, but it’s likely reduced somewhat due an increased level of text messaging with my friends and my wife recently.  I will admit that I’d like to see my client emails go up significantly (maybe 30%+), and this process has helped me to realize that I need to make a more concerted effort in this area.

If you’re up for the challenge, let me know how you did by responding to this post.  To provide context, it would be good to know the relative nature of the role you were in when you conducted the experiment.

Now, time for me to go reach out to some clients.  Cheers!

About svbmark

I'm a father of four boys; live in the Tri-Valley of the SF Bay Area; technology enthusiast; work with entrepreneurs and venture investors; SF Giants fan; budding wine lover
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