The Necessity of a Client Questionnaire for Executive Protection Operations
One of the most important and basic functions that a majority of the companies who provide executive protection services are failing miserably to obtain, is the client questionnaire. How many of you have been called by a company to provide services and you found yourself with not enough information about the client, besides a name and a location, and you had to literally fight to get more information from the project manager or the person in charge for the specific client? Don’t worry, we already know the answer and most of you have found yourselves in this situation.
The most important part in an executive protection detail is not to get the client or the contract, but to deliver great services and to excel. In a profession where excellence is directly connected not only with professionalism but also with the level of protection, it is vital for the industry to make sure basic steps are constantly applied. However, no matter how vital it is, many colleagues fail to maintain a questionnaire out of pure laziness, or because they do not know what to ask the client or are too afraid of the client to ask the important questions.
A client questionnaire is the first thing you must provide from the moment you secure that client/contract. You can either send the document to the client or the POC, or you can fill it yourself with the information you gather as you speak with the client or the POC. It is a very crucial document for executive protection professionals as it enables them to gather vital information, conduct risk assessments, customize security measures, establish client expectations, and facilitate effective collaboration. It serves as a valuable tool for developing comprehensive security plans and ensuring the safety and well-being, not only of the client but also your personnel.
Client questionnaires can help your operation in several ways:
It can help you gather essential operational information about the client and their specific needs. This includes details such as the client's personal and professional background, their routines and schedules, travel plans, known threats or risks, and any specific concerns they may have. This information helps the protection team tailor their services and develop a comprehensive security plan that addresses the client's unique requirements.
It will be a helpful tool for your risk assessment and threat analysis. Although some companies believe that one should perform a risk and threat assessment ONLY if they charge the client for it, so if the client isn’t paying, they won’t provide one. Crazy? Yeah! And it happens more often than one may think. But this topic is for another time to discuss. Just keep in mind, you don’t run a risk and threat assessment because the client is buying the ‘’product’’, you run one because IT IS part of your functions, and it will undoubtedly benefit your team on the ground. So, when you run a client questionnaire by collecting information about the client, their activities, and their environment, the information gathered enables you to conduct an initial risk assessment and threat analysis. It will help you identify potential risks, vulnerabilities, and areas of concern that need to be addressed to ensure the client's safety and security. It allows your protection team to develop effective strategies and countermeasures to mitigate these risks.
As we all know, each client and each operation have its own needs that can vary significantly depending on factors such as their professional background, public visibility, lifestyle, specific circumstances, and geographic location. The information obtained through a client questionnaire enables you to customize your security measures to suit the client's specific protective needs. This may involve determining the level of security personnel required, implementing access control measures, arranging secure transportation, establishing secure communication protocols, or any other necessary precautions. By knowing your client’s needs, you will also be able to establish clear expectations between you, your protective team, and them. By utilizing a client questionnaire, you enable your clients to have the opportunity to communicate their concerns, preferences, and any specific requirements they may have (Remember, in our industry, what the client wants matters as well). By understanding your client's expectations upfront, you and the protective team can align your services, accordingly, ensuring a satisfactory and effective security operation.
As a project manager or company owner, you also have a duty toward the people you are hiring. Since you are the one who makes that first contact (services sales as well) with the client, you must be sure you require specific information to pass on to your team on the ground. There is nothing more unprofessional, unhelpful, and inconsiderate than to send your team unprepared and expect them to do a great job. Unfortunately, as we mentioned earlier, it happens way too often. Some people are just lazy to do what it needs to be done, others are terrified of the client and believe if they ask questions (which are necessary for a protective operation) will make the clients angry, and some do not know what to ask! Now we can’t do anything about those who are just lazy, however for those who fear the client, let us assure you that, nothing else shows more professionalism and that you know your field, than when you show interest and make the necessary questions that will enable a smooth and successful protective operation. Consider the fact that, for the majority of the time, you won’t be dealing with the client himself/herself, but with their PA, security manager, agency, etc. Those people will be able to provide this information to you because they already know most of the answers, and for those they do not know, they already have communication, trust, and the confidence of the client. So don’t be afraid to do what your job may dictate.
Now for those who do not know what to ask.
Think of the client questionnaire as a mini and first risk and threat assessment. Ask yourself, what would I need to know if I was the agent on the ground hired for this specific client to provide professional and successful protective services? Divide the questionnaire into sections such as:
Personal Information, including full name, DOB, nationality, religion, home address, contact information, and person in charge (if not the client).
Professional Information, including current occupation or business, employer/company name, job title, and business address.
Lifestyle and Routine, including daily routines and schedule, locations frequently visited (home, office, public places), regular activities (sports, social events, hobbies), any upcoming special events or engagements, associations (social, professional, religious, political), travel frequency and destinations, public exposure, or visibility.
Known Threats and Concerns, including any previous security incidents or threats, specific concerns or risks identified by the client or his immediate environment, information about any stalkers, disgruntled individuals, or potential adversaries, any information about the client or anyone in their immediate sphere of influence (SOI) to have been involved in controversial activity (public speech, professional decision, etc.)
Travel Information, including planned or anticipated travel destinations, travel dates, and duration, purpose of travel, mode of transportation (private jet, commercial airline, etc.), accommodation preferences (hotels, rental properties, etc.)
Support Personnel, including names and contact information of personal assistants, drivers, or other personnel involved in the client's daily activities.
Security Measures, including any current security arrangements, if any (i.e., RST, security systems, surveillance cameras, alarm systems, etc.), details of any existing security personnel or teams involved in the client's protection, how many people are to be protected, any family members traveling with the client (what, if any family members are NOT included in this assignment), and length of assignment (days, hours per day).
Communication Preferences, including preferred methods of communication (phone, email, text), emergency contact information (family members, close associates),
Medical Information, including any pre-existing medical conditions or allergies, details of any required medications or medical treatments, emergency medical contact information, and any dietary restrictions, or intolerances.
Legal Considerations, including any legal issues or ongoing litigation that could impact security measures or confidentiality.
Likes and dislikes regarding his/her EP detail – Additional Information, including the client’s preference about the security team, if they have ever hired any EP services before, why they are not using that firm anymore, and any other specific requirements or concerns the client or the POC wants to address.
Bear in mind that the questions in a client questionnaire may vary based on the unique needs and circumstances of the client, and it may need to be tailored with additional questions or sections. The preferable option is to have a document sent to the client, their PA, or POC for the specific detail and ask them to fill it out for you. That way you can have an extra layer of protection (even a legal one) if anything happens due to information not given to you.
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