Establishing an International Client Satisfaction Programme

Many professional services firms have established some form of Client satisfaction processes, monitoring and reporting. Those firms that are part of an international network may not have local control over how Clients are managed. This can result in considerable inconsistencies. Some firms set operational standards in an attempt to overcome these, but cultural and other local factors often inhibit or modify the outcomes. As mentioned earlier, accounting firm BDO makes the NPS a mandatory requirement of all its global members.

The same elements as mentioned earlier are required to establish a Client Satisfaction Programme with the added dimensions of globalisation. To raise the standard of Client management by introducing a global Client Satisfaction Programme requires commitment from the international board of management. A small, multi-country team is usually established to manage the programme comprised of a mix of 'well-established' to 'beginners' in Client satisfaction measurement. A typical process for globalisation of Client satisfaction would be as follows:

1. Audit the current situation in all locations.

2. Report back on the gaps between the best and least effective operations.

3. For countries starting a programme, conduct local research with their Clients based on best practice.

4. Establish a global standard for all members to follow based on the best that exists now.

5. Discuss and test the standards with pilot group of locations ranging from best to least effective.

6. Revise the standards where necessary.

7. Roll out the programme region by region.

8. Create regular communication on the programme results.

9. Report on Net Promoter Scores by location.

10. Assist local members with improvement programmes.

11. Establish strategic Client management where appropriate.

The effectiveness of such a programme relies on the attention to detail throughout the process. For example, if a set of Client satisfaction questions has been agreed, it needs to be tested for cultural differences and understanding. Experience shows that many Eastern cultures are not as open or transparent as their Western counterparts, so there may be some reluctance from Clients to answer some of the questions. When establishing standards, such factors have to be taken into account.

Table 4.12 An Example of a Client Satisfaction Audit Summary of a Global Network

Item Region

Client feedback

Surveys effected

Face-to-face interviews

Telephone surveys





Promoter Score

Strategic Clients

Asia & Pacific


Very few



In place






With top Clients

With most Clients




In place with variable results

In most countries

Middle East & Africa








Far East



Majority of Clients

Very few



In some countries




With top Clients

Smaller Clients


In place with good results

In place

A partial audit summary is shown in Table 4.12. This shows that there are regional differences. Within each region there are also likely to be variations of implementation. One way forward could be to have a representative European team working with Middle East & Africa colleagues and another working with the remaining regions. Such a programme may take several years to establish to the required standards, especially where the process of surveying and interviewing Clients has to start from scratch.


Richard Crook, Head of Business Development & CRM, says 'Savills has always focused on Client satisfaction, using external consultants to conduct Client interviews. Recently this programme has been increased in volume and now includes members of Savills' internal research team and board members, such as the CEO, to interview key Clients. Post-transaction surveys are usually sent out with invoices as this is usually a good test of the Savills platinum service. Social media are also used to monitor trending about the firm. The residential business uses "mystery shopping" techniques to test the quality of its office locations.

Savills measures ratios like:

• repeat vs. retained vs. new business;

• how many service lines are sold per Client;

• satisfaction and favourability scores;

• Net Promoter Scores (these have increased over the past two years).

Given Savills' global reach it is developing these measures as management tools to maintain their leading position.'

Rewarding Excellence in Client Satisfaction

Many firms have implemented a reward policy to drive up Client satisfaction. This takes into account factors such as:

• increase in fee income over a defined period;

• increase in Client satisfaction survey score/Net Promoter Score;

• reduction in Client churn;

• increase in number of services purchased by the Client.

The challenge with rewarding excellence in Client satisfaction is to ensure a fair approach, given that many people collaborate in delivering Client service. Some firms provide a Client team bonus structure based on Client expectation feedback, for example if the team:

• Consistently exceed expectations, bonus = inflation + 5 per cent of salary.

• Exceeds expectations, bonus = inflation + 3 per cent of salary.

• Meets expectations, bonus = inflation indexed salary.

• Does not meet expectations = no bonus.

Client Satisfaction Breeds Loyalty

Satisfaction shows the importance of keeping in touch with Clients as work progresses, through leaner times, to seek qualitative and quantitative feedback from Clients on their experience with the firm and act on it. However, achieving a 'satisfied' rating is usually not enough to retain a Client - the tipping point occurs when the firm augments its service delivery with added-value offers and finds innovative ways of increasing Client loyalty.

Use of Client satisfaction metrics like the Net Promoter Score can signal potential opportunities and defection warnings for a firm. Use of Client panels and testimonials helps to retain Client loyalty over time. Those Clients that provide additional business opportunities through referrals and testimonials should be nurtured as their loyalty value can be assessed.

Establishment of a Client Satisfaction process is now considered best practice in professional services firms. It requires board-level leadership and the involvement of all Client-facing and supporting employees. A fair reward structure based on meeting or exceeding Client expectations will usually drive up satisfaction ratings and contributes to a stronger Client relationship.

Client Satisfaction and Loyalty

Chapter Review Questions

To what extent does your firm:

1. Regularly benchmark its service against competitors?

2. Identify each Client's requirements and preferences?

3. Identify service performance gaps?

4. Use a performance/service matrix for groups of Clients?

5. Monitor Client effort in dealing with the firm?

6. Set targets for Client satisfaction?

7. Use the NPS with all Clients?

8. Regularly review Client satisfaction surveys at board level?

9. Regularly update its Client satisfaction targets?

10. Know its NPS by sector?

11. Know its NPS by service line/practice area?

12. Know the referral value of its Promoter Clients?

These questions also form the basis of the Satisfaction section of your Client Management Profile™, which can be found in Chapter 15.

Client Management Model™

Client Management Model™

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