Analysing Client Satisfaction Survey Responses
Responses to two key questions - on overall satisfaction and on recommendation - can be used to classify Clients. For example, those Clients scoring 8-10 on these questions could be called 'Loyal', those scoring 5-7 'Indifferent' and those scoring 0^ 'Unhappy'. Responses from Clients can then be grouped into the following categories:
• Those Clients that award high points for satisfaction (Loyal), i.e. at least 8 out of 10.
• Those Clients who are neutral about satisfaction (Indifferent).
• Those Clients who are clearly not satisfied (Unhappy).
Reports can then be produced indicating overall and individual performance.
Establishing a Client Satisfaction Programme
Many firms have yet to consider the need to invest in monitoring and measuring Client satisfaction. Some of these firms tend to operate on the principle that 'If all is going well and the Client pays the invoices, all must be well' and 'The Client will soon tell us if something is wrong'. That's often too late. So what are the key elements of an effective programme?
Lead, plan, research
To create a Client Satisfaction Programme requires leadership, careful thought and planning; it is also critical to have board-level support at the outset. As stated earlier, Client satisfaction has to be research-based to be successful. This research usually starts by organising a number of interviews with top-value Clients, conducted by people in your firm who are not working directly with the Client. This task is often carried out by senior marketing people, but can be effected by a third party. Many Clients accept the digital recording of such interviews on the understanding that they will only be used internally and to improve the service and relationship. Digital recording is an effective way of providing accurate transcripts that can be produced internally or outsourced to a specialist agency.
Discuss client feedback to establish service goals
The interviews are then distributed and discussed internally with a number of senior people, including the lead partner for that Client. This group, which is ideally cross-functional, can then determine the firm's mission in serving its Clients. What drives Client satisfaction is best discussed at top level so that any changes that may be required have their support. If your firm plans to increase its focus on its Clients through some form of Client Satisfaction Programme, internal communications will play a crucial part. Client service goals need to be established and communicated.
Secure top-level support and regular communications
As mentioned earlier, the key to a successful Client Satisfaction Programme is having top-level support and full employee engagement through regular communications. When everyone understands how they can make a difference to the Client experience, through communication around the firm of success stories and reward systems, they will create a culture that is clearly noticed by Clients. When case studies are produced featuring loyal Clients, these can be used when pitching for new work and can also be a good source of material when new employees are inducted.
Allow time for new behaviours to happen
The development of a Client satisfaction mentality can take several business cycles to become part of the firm's fabric and culture; however, the investment in time and resources pays off in the longer term. People often need training and development in Client-related competencies, developing new skills and habits, and especially understanding the importance of obtaining regular formal and informal Client feedback.
Appraise and reward excellence
Appraisals or performance reviews should also reflect the firm's Client management objectives. Employees should be recognised and rewarded for excellence in Client service. They also have to be told how Client concerns were carefully resolved so that they can learn about Client retention.
CLIENT SATISFACTION OBJECTIVES AND METRICS
To take a particular example, let's look at some top line objectives set by a professional services firm:
• Acknowledge non-Client enquiries within a working day of receipt.
• Respond to Client enquiries within two hours of receipt.
• Achieve at least 75 per cent level of Client satisfaction in loyalty zone within two years of the start of the programme.
• Ensure that the lead partner visits the Client at least twice per year.
• Resolve invoicing queries within two hours of receipt.
• Communicate any team changes within a working day.
Whilst each of these service goals and external Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) focus on meeting a specific and stated set of Client expectations, all of them have specific internal agendas. On the other hand, very few, if any, of them can be achieved by one department working in isolation. Teamwork is vital in achieving consistently high Client ratings.