Making the cut in the Client Choice Awards comments on the characteristics of those firms that will be announced as Finalists on 1st February*.
It's the time of year when the online surveying for the Client Choice Awards has drawn to a close and our researchers are analysing the data. This year we have collected more than 16,023 ratings (a record) of firms in accountancy, law, IP specialist, consulting engineering, and management consulting firms in Australia and New Zealand.
Over many years, beaton has analysed why their clients rate some firms so highly for consistently delivering excellent client experience, and therefore what it takes to make the cut in the Client Choice Awards.
Sources of serial success
Our observations point to those who enjoy serial success in the Client Choice Awards finalists doing three things extraordinarily well.
First, in these firms all their people know that clients come first. They understand the primary reason for the firm’s existence is to meet clients’ needs effectively and efficiently.
Second, these firms regard their people as being as important as their clients. They know how people, including principals or partners, feel about their treatment by the firm is how they, in turn, treat their clients. Leaders set the tone in these firms, act as exemplary role models and serve their people as 'internal customers'.
And third, these firms are consistent. beaton’s analysis shows consistency is the key to being truly excellent in how the client service experience is managed. Clients have very high expectations, so the slightest of errors, delays or brusqueness is damaging. Every touch point, by every person in the firm, every day with every client adds up.
Rising client expectations
Clients' expectations are rising, as this chart shows. How clients perceive value and their overall satisfaction are increasing year-on-year, but the perceived level of the fees they are paying is not. This is true in all the professions beaton measures and has deep implications for matching your clients' (rising) expectations and keeping up with your competitors.
Firms that do not continuously improve their client service experience will fall progressively behind.
How to make the cut
The surest way to make the cut is through properly-designed client feedback on which the firm can confidently act.
Episodic, informal feedback is not helpful exceptions, with rare exceptions. Client feedback must be as close to bias-free and purposeful at three levels: how your brand is perceived in the marketplace, your relationships with clients, and transactional, i.e. during and/or after jobs, matters or engagements you undertake for clients.
It's a fact and should be no surprise, finalists and winners in the Client Choice Award make more use of the beatonbenchmarks (which measure and compare brand positions and clients’ satisfaction with firms) than firms who don't make the cut, i.e. reach the finalist stage. The reasons are clear. Hard evidence helps managing partners and CEOs drive change more effectively. And the ultimate winners will be your clients. And your firm.
Firms in this elite group actively manage their cultures to make excellence their mission. And it shows in their passion of their people
* From amongst the finalists the 2017 Client Choice Awards winners will be announced and celebrated on 7 March in Sydney at the Financial Review Client Choice Awards dinner.
More on how to make the cut
+ Client centricity: How to execute and measure ROI by Paul Hugh-Jones
+ The three things that create value for clients by Paul Hugh-Jones
+ Some firms do. Some don’t. beaton wonders why. by George Beaton