A prospective client visited us during a 'beauty parade' when reviewing his company's existing adviser relationship. His company had a portfolio of numerous patent and trade mark applications around the world. It was the kind of client that any firm would be proud to have.
Naturally we asked what the company's existing advisers were doing wrong. The problem wasn't the quality of the work: it was the quality of the communication.
Wearily, our contact pulled out a thick sheaf of paper: it was what he had received so far that month from his advisers. Scarcely a day went by without him receiving another letter, another printout, another invoice. Everything that happened on the portfolio led to a separate report and bill.
Our contact was caught in a blizzard of paper. What he needed to know was in there somewhere - but digging it out took hours. He had everything, but he knew nothing. That isn't communication: it's just noise.
When we won the client's business, we distilled the whole lot into a three-page report and a single itemised invoice every month. Anything that couldn't wait a month was dealt with in a quick exchange of e-mails. The client was freed to do what it does best: to delight its own customers.
That's not all. The portfolio we took over was bloated, with territorial coverage out of all proportion to the client's commercial interests. We helped our client to prune the portfolio, saving a fortune and allowing it to concentrate on developing strong core protection in its key markets.