Engineers did you know … engineering firms trail in client service?
September 6th, 2012 | Mel Anderson
At the risk of repeating an earlier blog post, our ad in BRW magazine today emphasises the trailing performance of the engineering profession. On client service, the best-performing consulting engineering firm in Australia ranked only 50th out of the top 100 professional service firms in Beaton’s annual benchmarks study.
Why does this happen?
Here are just some of our observations of the barriers engineers in particular face in becoming client-centric (please excuse the generalisations):
- Lawyers and accountants typically focus on working for clients to address client needs, while engineers typically focus on delivering projects to reach project conclusions. Lesson: focus on clients rather than projects.
- The most technically proficient engineers are typically the ones that get promoted into senior client management roles, however these people may not always be the most adept people at managing client relationships. Lesson: great technical competence does not always mean great client centricity.
- It is not breaking news that engineers have been giving away margin for years, heavily discounting to win work regardless of the costs. Our data shows a small, but positive relationship between perceptions of fees and overall client satisfaction. In other words, clients find it hard to believe that top quality client service can come from a firm charging extremely low fees. Lesson: stop heavily discounting to win work.
In a dynamic environment where clients are involved in purchasing a broader range of services than ever before it is likely that a C-suite buyer of engineering services will ask themselves: “Why are my engineers just not as responsive, reliable or focused on my needs as my lawyers or accountants?”
When put in comparative terms like this, the risk of churn is highlighted as clients may strive to find an engineering firm that can perform at the same level as their other service providers.
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