Immigration consultants: good practice, satisfied client
Immigration consulting is basically providing a service to a client. In Canada an Immigration consultant is a person that is certified, tested and authorized by the Government to provide immigration advice for immigration issues related to either work, study, immigration or asylum applications. As a regulated profession it is regulated under a Canadian government approved and sanctioned body known as the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). This organization ensures that not only are the Immigration consultants under it are skilled and knowledgeable about the immigration process they should also conduct themselves in a manner that is professional and ethical.
In the United States, “immigrations consultants” or the so called “notaries” are considered to be in breach of the law because it is considered illegal for any person who is not a member of the Bar to provide legal advice for any matter or issue that is considered to be official or legal in nature. Canada on the other hand has considered the indispensability of having a system where immigration consultants play an official role in the immigration process provided they adhere to standards that are acceptable to the Government and other stakeholders. Immigration consulting is therefore a legitimate, respectable and credible undertaking that is as accepted in the immigration process as those of a Lawyer or a member of the different provincial bar associations or Notary public in Québec.
One of the most important factors in assessing the ability of an immigration consultant to provide value to the immigration process is his ability to provide good service to his clients. Practice management relates to the immigration consultants ability to manage how he relates to and provides superior service to the clients requirements and his ability to provide it in a fast, reliable, affordable and ethical manner. His ability to provide superior service is usually dependent on how his practice is organized .This factor dictates the kind of clients he will accept, how his office will be designed and what kind of service levels he will maintain.
Satisfied clients or customer satisfaction is one of the most important goals of any service organization as it is one of the greatest determinants of success or failure. Since a service organization really has no tangible product, it sells a service that is highly dependent on client satisfaction that is determined by the clients real and perceived appreciation of how his needs and wants were actually satisfied.
To illustrate this process I will provide a case study to show how a good practice can lead to client satisfaction which can lead to more business and more satisfied clients.
M used to work for AB an ICCRC member. M worked as a filing clerk and was very good at it. Unfortunately AB was not very focused on his practice because of a family issue. Because of this lack of focus M noticed that the quality of service that they used to provide for their clients suffered. Most client’s inquiries were not answered on time and some of their billings were often late or misplaced. M noticed the difference in the service between the time AB was focused with the practice and the lack of service that resulted when he lost his focus. This situation persisted to the point that clients started to complain and slowly the inquiries and clients that once were always available became scarce and then disappeared. This situation led to the dissolution of the firm with the resulting loss of employment and income for most of the staff and employees. Fortunately M took an Immigration consulting course with a local college and was ready for any eventuality. Having experience in the AB’s immigration practice he was able to start a practice of his own and was determined to improve the service level of his firm to attract, retain and expand their customers.
His immigration practice would be anchored on two major concepts. Superior customer service and price. He noticed that the whole immigration consulting business relied on the premise that an immigration consultant is hired to provide fast, reliable advice to people who can do the service themselves but are unsure of what to do and need someone who will be there to guide them through the perceived difficulty in going through the process. They just need someone they can ask what to do and be available to answer them when they need an answer. He also priced his services in such a way that it will be slightly lower than more established consultants but he provided for easier payment schemes ( lay away, low down, etc.)
Having established his practice based on these principles he organized his office systems and procedures to reflect these values. All client inquiries were answered within one day either by phone or by an email. He would always be answering questions to make sure that the clients are informed and updated about their applications and concerns. While this took a lot of effort and time it paid off because most of his clients felt that they were really being serviced by a consultant. Their need for someone to guide them through the process was satisfied therefore they felt convinced that M was really performing his role an immigration consultant. Since his consulting fees were also easier on the pocket he attracted more clients that gave him more leeway in hiring more employees to help him in providing superior consulting services.
M is now a successful Immigration consultant who attracts and retains clients not from an aggressive marketing campaign but rather from referrals of previous clients who are more than happy to recommend him to their friends because they perceive him to be a reliable and affordable immigration consultant provider. By simply analyzing the needs and wants of the client he was able to configure the way his practice was organized to provide them with what was needed.