Client Data Mining and Data Analytics

This section explains the importance of being able to analyse Client behaviour beyond the routine purchases, analysing your database to establish insights around Client preferences and habits so that communications and campaigns can be better focused.

Current technology enables analysis of Client and prospect data beyond the first level of contact details. Well-known examples of this are in place in the retail sector where stores keep records of Customer purchases and then send out discount coupons for a selection of products already purchased to encourage repurchase. This is known as data mining, using software to sift through thousands of bits of information.

By keeping records of Client activity such as attendance at seminars, it is possible to predict the likelihood of their attending another seminar. Many professional services firms are investing in data analytics, which is the science of providing inferences from data to make more informed decisions. As traffic through websites and social media increases, so data management and analysis becomes more important in understanding the motivations of Clients and prospects. Given the variety of communication channels available today, many firms now ask Clients to regularly update their contact preferences.

One of the most advanced tools is Google Analytics, which can provide reports based on analysis of website traffic and can help to pinpoint the optimum use of digitised content.

Clients that Defect

Here we look at how to spot the likely danger signals of defection through Client satisfaction feedback and media traffic. It's important to watch for press signals about the Client's organisation that may lead to defection. Clients have a choice of whom to use as their suppliers. From time to time, often due to mergers, reorganisation or new people joining, the supplier base is reviewed and some Clients decide to change. There are many other reasons that lead Clients to defect. During Client satisfaction interviews some Clients reveal that they are not totally satisfied; these comments signal the possibility of eventual defection, so it is important to follow up quickly to see if it is possible to salvage the situation.

Clients may also have to rotate suppliers periodically, for example, in audit, due to sector regulations. However, it is important to stay in touch as there may be other work that your firm can carry out. Some Clients may be growing and entering new markets; they may decide to change to a supplier that has greater geographical presence, even if your work has met their current requirements. So it pays to keep aware of developments within the Client organisation and be prepared to deal with such situations. It pays to be alert about any comments related to your firm's response to queries; many companies decide to change if they are not receiving adequate contact from your lead partner.

MOVING CONTACTS

One of your Client contacts Mr A at firm X moves to another company. You may find that the new incumbent Ms B has her own supplier contacts that may not include your firm. Even if you have been in regular contact Mr A, the new situation precludes your firm at present, so you are faced with having to rebuild the relationship with firm X.

However there are things that you can do:

• If you have already developed strong relationships with other people in firm X, they may eventually recommend your firm to Ms B.

• Also, it pays to keep in touch with people that move between companies. Mr A may now be in a position to recommend your firm to his colleagues.

Here are some defection pointers from Client satisfaction interviews:

• Dissatisfaction with services.

• Dissatisfaction with the delivery process.

• Dissatisfaction with the delivery team.

• Projects completed beyond budget.

• Late delivery.

• Lack of access to lead or senior partner.

• Lack of international reach.

• Invoicing detail problems.

• Poor communications.

• Unresponsive to queries.

HOW BIRD & BIRD DEVELOPS ITS CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS

Louise Field is Head of Client Service & Insight at Bird & Bird, a law firm with over 150 years in practice. She joined Bird & Bird in 2009, after eight years at EY, to re-invigorate and manage the firm's key account management and 'Client listening' programmes. These had strong and visible support from the start from CEO David Kerr and the Board, as part of the cultural shift already begun in the firm from 'my Client' to 'our Client'. Regular independent Client feedback helped to explore and confirm opportunities to develop Client relationships and new business. Creating a framework to support and recognise collaborative, team-based key account planning and action encouraged partners to share potential opportunities with their Bird & Bird peers. This shift in mind-set from 'what can I do to develop my practice?' to 'what can I do to develop the firm's Clients?' has driven significant growth opportunities for every part of the business.

Differentiation

By 201 I Bird & Bird had developed a strategic vision of their differentiators in the market, under three 'pillars' of

• deep industry knowledge (sector focus);

• international reach;

• excellence in Client service.

Whilst Partners understood well the first two pillars, it was not yet clear to all what exactly was meant by 'excellence in Client service'. A project team reviewed feedback gathered through the Client Listening Programme and held workshops with international partners and business support staff to find the answer. As it transpired this was already clear to their Clients! The overall feedback was that Bird & Bird are 'surprisingly straightforward' to deal with. They use plain language, have a strong sense of their Clients' businesses, and make their Clients' lives easier. The team harnessed this into a clear and consistent statement that partners now use to communicate the experience of working with Bird & Bird in pitches and relationship meetings.

Communicating the Programme

Communications to Bird & Bird people about the Client listening programme were set up very early in the programme, to share Client insight across the partnership and encourage the ongoing roll-out of interview activity. CEO David Kerr has a regular slot in his monthly report for 'The voice of the Client', containing quotes and anecdotes from Client listening. Quotes are anonymised to protect confidentiality and to retain partners' trust.

Measurement

Bird & Bird's key Client programme uses a range of KPIs to measure success, encompassing increases in spread of work, financial management, relationship breadth and strength and Client development activity. No targets have yet been set for levels of Client satisfaction, as the programme aims first to encourage open and honest dialogue with Clients; experience shows that measuring Client scores discourages partners from nominating Clients who may be less than satisfied (where the need is arguably greatest). The first step has been to report on willingness to participate in Client listening activity.

Evidence (Client Listening Programme)

The interview programme has now been running for several years. By 2012 around 30 interviews per year were being conducted with Clients and prospects from Seoul to San Francisco by senior Marketing and Business Development personnel including Louise Field and Director, Jill Warren. Louise then partnered with an independent Client research consultancy to launch an international on-line Client satisfaction survey, which has been embraced as a valuable complementary offering to ensure that the firm can listen to all Clients.

Louise is also involved in bespoke Client listening projects for specific Clients, interviewing 10 or more stakeholders and reporting back to General Counsel, to review the key messages and agree a way forward to build the relationship.

Evidence (Key Client Programme)

Bird & Bird's key Client programme uses the 'bow tie to diamond' approach to opening up contacts within Clients to embed a relationship with the firm rather than with one partner. The bow tie represents the initial contacts on both sides, opening to a diamond that represents multiple levels of contact between Client and Bird & Bird. To achieve this, the programme encourages regular dialogue with Clients at least quarterly about their business, issues and topics of interest, to generate new introductions. Relationships are mapped and regularly discussed, with partners assigned to developing specific contacts.

 
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