The question is how do you do it? How do you as leader create the environment for this to happen? In our experience there are five key steps.
How will you know if you have improved your clients’ experience if you don’t measure it? Of course, the only opinion that matters is your clients. So the first step is to reach out to them to get feedback that is not just qualitative but quantitative. This is typically done by establishing a Voice of Client (VoC) program. With this done you can set a baseline or benchmark for the future.
Measuring and tracking the client experience at the firm level is just the beginning. The real power of establishing metrics for your clients’ experience comes from being able to assign accountability for that experience to a professional (typically the key relationship owner) in your firm. The net promoter system or NPS is designed for action but there must be someone whose responsibility it is to take that action.
If a client has given important feedback you need to acknowledge it. This is particular true if the client is unhappy. Invest in an NPS service provider that can provide real-time dashboards tailored to each client relationship owner. At ClientCulture we assign a client to one, or more than one, relationship owner (be that a partner or manager or associate). This person is notified by email when new survey results are available so that they can login to their dashboard and follow-up with the client if need be as quickly as possible. This is known as closing the loop in the language of NPS and it is very important.
The feedback and learnings from clients need to be put into action. This will always be a mix of systemic service issues and more subtle changes in the work delivery and communication styles of key professionals. Unless clients see steady and consistent progress in service delivery your client experience program will lose momentum and clients may disengage.
Research and our own experience working with professional services clients shows time and time again the strong connection between client satisfaction and staff engagement. This finding is perhaps not surprising, particularly in services businesses. The reality is that in professional services your people are your product. Nevertheless, sadly this link is not always recognised by management. Poor management can lead to high levels of turnover which hamper your ability to deliver consistent service levels. Building a strong culture, that values and supports your people, provides a stable base of motivated people, ready and willing to delight your clients. Without it you are always playing catch-up.
Mastering the client experience is key to making sure your firm thrives over the long term.