Clients Working with Their Advisors to Develop New Services
Many firms work with their Clients to develop new services; for example, a law firm decided to create for its top 50 Clients a portal via subscription with secure access, enabling the search of any documentation relating to matters completed or in progress. Clients were involved at the inception and worked alongside the law firm's specialists to develop a user-friendly site. This portal was extended to 50 Clients after piloting with five Clients to iron out any issues. It has now become standard for all Clients who want the added-value, chargeable service.
Competitor Regulation Impact on Clients
In the UK, the Competition Commission1 exists to regulate practices to avoid unfair market dominance. In the past few years it has been indicating a need for auditor rotation in the accountancy sector to reduce the dominance of the big four firms in the large corporate market. The introduction of such a directive will alter the way that accounting firms operate. It will lower the barriers to entry for the mid-tier firms who have the capability to deal with the complexities of the larger corporations that usually select the larger accounting firms. The Competition Commission cited the following lack of competition in UK listed companies market:
FTSE 100 firms:
• 31 per cent had the same auditor for more than 20 years.
• 67 per cent had the same auditor for more than 10 years. FTSE 250 firms:
• 20 per cent had the same auditor for more than 20 years.
• 52 per cent had the same auditor for more than 10 years.
In February 2013 the Competition Commission published its full provisional report into the audit market, after an earlier summary, and concluded that the audit market was not serving shareholders well enough. Its 297-page report concluded that a lack of visibility on audit quality was having a negative impact on competition and was putting companies off changing auditors more frequently.
The Use of Technology to Target Clients
Enlightened firms will increasingly realise the power of the data they hold and the legitimate use through analytical methods to segment their Client base for specific service offerings. Data analytics enables a firm to drill down through its Client or prospect information to reveal business opportunities. For example, let us suppose we analyse the 3,000 prospects in our database. Over the past year, through various marketing campaigns and activities:
• 3,000 were offered invitations to events;
• 2,500 were sent technical literature relevant to their situation;
• 1,300 attended events;
• 1,200 attended webinars;
• 400 attended meetings with a partner of the firm;
• 150 purchased for the first time.
By using data analytics, we can discover whether there are any patterns or triggers leading to purchase. As an example, our analysis shows that:
• our conversion rate was 150/3,000, i.e. 5 per cent;
• 60 per cent of purchasers attended at least two events and had a subsequent meeting with a partner;
• 25 per cent of purchasers received technical literature and had a subsequent meeting with a partner;
• 15 per cent of purchasers had a variety of triggers.
From this analysis we can conclude that it would seem logical to follow up multiple-event attendees and requests for technical information with a meeting involving a partner. This is a fairly simplistic example, but data analytics can provide even deeper insights into purchasing behaviour.
Using Social Media Channels to Build Client Relationships
Social media includes blogs, Facebook, Google+, Linkedln and Twitter. Many of these channels are being exploited in a variety of ways by organisations wishing to keep in regular contact with their Clients. Professional services firms have been traditionally slow in picking up on new trends; however, they ignore social media at their peril! These channels, along with other digital platforms, should form an integral part of any marketing campaign. In many instances these channels can be the first Moment of Truth for a prospective Client.
Firms researched recently in the Client Care Survey indicated that they use social media to:
• engage Clients on a regular basis;
• build Client relationships;
• attract new Clients;
• contact alumni;
• publicise articles.
Many firms also use Linkedln to better understand individuals within a Client, as a majority of people create a personal profile in this channel.
SOCIAL CRM: AVIEW FROM IBM
Welcome to the age of Social CRM, a different way of thinking about Customer relationship management that focuses on using social media to enhance Customer engagement. How prepared are companies to make this shift? Despite widespread adoption of social media, for most, Social CRM is still in its early stages, execution is patchy and concerns about ROI remain. To fully exploit the power of social media to connect with Customers, organizations need to move beyond isolated projects to integrated programs and, ultimately, a Social CRM strategy.
-  From Social Media to Social CRM: Reinventing the Customer Relationship - a report published in 201 I by IBM Institute for Business Value.