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Developing Client Trust

Most managing partners in professional services firms will say that they want to be their Clients' trusted advisers. Very few surveys can reveal the level of trust that exists between the Client and the supplying firm. However, it is considered that repeat purchasing behaviour and a recommendation related to a high Net Promoter Score (discussed later) are clear indicators of the level of Client trust. Some form of scoring is best used to enable qualitative comparisons.

By listening to your Clients, you will discover many points that you can leverage to improve your relationship, fee income and, ultimately, the level of trust. How well do your teams score in commerciality, personal chemistry, understanding your Client's business and issues?

Client Care Survey Results

In this recent research, only just over a third of key Clients received annual satisfaction reports, as shown in Table 4.4 below. Given their 'key' status, this seems a very low proportion. It is also remarkable that only 15 per cent receive post-transaction reviews. These figures would therefore seem to indicate that the definition of key Clients may vary considerably from firm to firm.

Table 4.4 Who Receives Client Satisfaction Reports?

Monthly

Quarterly

Six-monthly

Annually

Ad

hoc

No reports

Unsure

Board

12.5%

12.5%

7.1%

15.8%

23.4%

22.3%

6.5%

MP/CEO

17.4%

10.3%

9.8%

13.0%

26.6%

17.9%

4.9%

Management team

16.8%

14.7%

6.5%

12.0%

24.5%

21.2%

4.3%

Practice group leaders

15.8%

1 1.4%

7.1%

8.7%

32.6%

20.1%

4.3%

Source: Client Care Survey 2013.

Table 4.4 shows who receives Client satisfaction reports and at what level of frequency. What is of interest here is that less than 20 per cent of respondents at board and management level receive monthly reports, yet less than 10 per cent of respondents stated that offices received regular reports.

Table 4.5 Proportion of Key Clients Receiving Satisfaction Reviews

All key Clients

A

majority

Around half

A

minority

No

reviews

Not sure

Annual satisfaction reviews

34.5%

12.1%

1 1.5%

19.0%

21.3%

1.7%

Post-transaction satisfaction reviews

14.9%

14.9%

9.8%

31.6%

23.0%

5.7%

General relationship satisfaction reviews

24.1%

18.4%

9.8%

26.4%

16.7%

4.6%

Source: Client Care Survey 2013.

Table 4.5 reveals that only 35 per cent of key Clients received annual satisfaction reviews and only 24 per cent had general relationship reviews. There is considerable room for improvement here, as many of the Clients not surveyed may feel neglected.

Table 4.6 How Many Post-transaction Reviews are Acted Upon

All

Clients

A

majority

Around half

A

minority

None

Unsure

Reviews with a high level of satisfaction

24.6%

17.9%

7.5%

23.1%

14.2%

12.7%

Reviews with an average level of satisfaction

28.4%

18.7%

6.7%

26.9%

8.2%

11.2%

Reviews with a low level of satisfaction

54.5%

18.7%

4.5%

9.7%

3.0%

9.7%

Source: Client Care Survey 2013.

The Client Care Survey revealed a low level of post-transaction follow-up. Table 4.6 shows that less than 25 per cent of high-scoring reviews and only 54.5 per cent of low scoring reviews were acted upon. Yet the mere act of following up can often lead to new opportunities with the Client, even if there was a complaint to resolve. This would seem to indicate that the level of commitment given by professional services firms to Client satisfaction is in need of considerable review and that there is much room for improvement.

Table 4.7 Who Follows Up Commitments Made after Client Satisfaction Reviews?

MP/CEO

Management team

Marketing team

Practice group leader

No formal follow-up

Reviews with a high level of satisfaction

8.2%

19.6%

14.7%

20.7%

37.0%

Reviews with an average level of satisfaction

8.2%

21.7%

17.4%

19.0%

33.7%

Reviews with a low level of satisfaction

23.9%

23.9%

10.9%

21.2%

20.1%

Source: Client Care Survey 2013.

It is also interesting to note that top managers, i.e. the CEO or Managing Partner, were only involved in following up around 24 per cent of low-scoring reviews, as shown in Table 4.7. What is also revealing is that 20 per cent of reviews with low-scoring results have no formal follow-up. These findings would suggest that the follow-up process is also in need of review.

Table 4.8 Current Level of Post-transaction Reviews

Number of Clients

None

1-25

26-50

51-100

Over 100

Unsure

Face-to-face meetings

9.0%

50.7%

14.9%

9.0%

9.0%

7.5%

Telephone surveys

33.6%

29.1%

8.2%

3.0%

14.2%

11.9%

Web-based surveys

53.7%

10.4%

9.0%

3.7%

17.2%

6.0%

Postal surveys

66.4%

4.5%

3.0%

3.0%

9.7%

13.4%

Source: Client Care Survey 2013.

Table 4.9 Desired Level of Post-transaction Reviews

Number of Clients

None

1-25

26-50

51-100

Over 100

Unsure

Face-to-face meetings

1.5%

25.4%

22.4%

20.1%

26.9%

3.7%

Telephone surveys

1 1.9%

18.7%

17.9%

16.4%

28.4%

6.7%

Web-based surveys

26.9%

7.5%

8.2%

7.5%

38.1%

11.9%

Postal surveys

65.7%

5.2%

3.0%

1.5%

10.4%

14.2%

Source: Client Care Survey 2013.

Tables 4.8 and 4.9 from the recent Client Care Survey indicate the volume and types of post-transaction reviews undertaken, and desired, by professional services firms. There is a clear signal here that firms want to increase the number of Clients receiving face-to-face and telephone post-transaction interviews.

 
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