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#160: The CC of Client Communications

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, October 23, 2009
Who should I include as "CC" or "BCC" on my communications with my client?

Obviously, the best answers we can give without knowing the specifics of your situation are, "It depends" and "Remember your ethical responsibilities."

But there are some things to consider. What has been your practice on the engagement until now? A deviation will be spotted immediately so be sensitive to entrenched norms inherent to this particular corporate culture. In many cases, you are dealing with client confidential information. Even though you are generating content, as a work for hire, it may or may not in fact belong to the client and not you. It would be wise to establish the parameters with the client sponsor. To make it easy on your client, you might suggest in advance a predetermined list of types of information and to whom they might be copied, but that you would like permission to copy in additional relevant parties at your discretion and that you will not abuse that privilege. Inform the client that, where appropriate, you will sometimes send confidential notes to people without copying in others. Ask your client to immediately bring it to your attention if he or she ever feels you have overstepped in any way. Being sensitive and taking responsibility up front should not only result in the clarification you desire, but additional respect from the client.

Tip: Make the decision on whom to copy an easy one for the client and a reduced risk of mistakes for all. Establish and communicate your proposed plan and your client can either accept or modify it. In the interests of transparency and risk avoidance, when dealing with client information, never blind copy anyone unless you have the unambiguous permission (or better, direction) to do so.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  engagement management  ethics  goodwill  reputation 

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