The Road to Client Assessment: Travel Tips

This creative guide is targeted at managers of microfinance institutions and results from the SEEP PLP “Putting Client Assessment to Work”, where participants deliberated on final learning products and pooled their experiences to collectively contribute to this piece. The PLP is a SEEP Network initiative that aims to explore challenges facing the microenterprise field.

The guide proposes that undertaking client assessment is like taking a road trip – it is a process by which an organisation sets out on a lasting journey, learning from and about its clients so as to understand their needs and expectations. It notes that a well-thought out road trip is one in which the following elements are clearly determined:

  • destination (rationale of client assessment)
  • itinerary (client assessment objectives)
  • passengers (who should be involved)
  • cost (human and financial resources required by the client assessment process)
  • the mode of transport (the type of client assessment)

In addition, it is also noted, that the trip should plan to:

  • acquire needed supplies (assess human resources)
  • take the trip (look at the research design and implementation)
  • write a travelogue (report the results)
  • send postcards (communicate changes to staff and clients)
  • review the snapshots periodically to relive the experience (review the client assessment system)

The purpose of this guide is to provide a client assessment checklist for MFIs that outlines:

  • necessary preparations for conducting and institutionalising clients assessment activities
  • which stakeholders should be involved in the process
  • the financial implications of conducting client assessment
  • potential trade-offs and pitfalls of the process that need to be recognised upfront

This innovative guide sets out the key elements of undertaking client assessment as if planning and setting out on a road trip! It is based around answering a series of key questions for road-trippers and includes text boxes of real examples to illustrate key points. It also comes with caution signs, where bumps in the road may hamper progress.

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