The way clients experience overall client service is a function of a professional firm's culture. This post explains why overall client service consistency matters to the sustainability and profitability of firms.
We know from the classic research into the service profit chain that client satisfaction is significantly determined by the culture of the service provider, i.e. ‘how things are done around here’.
Overall client service consistency measurement
On the beatonbenchmarks Consistency chart, the spread in the score a firm receives for Overall Client Service (OCS), i.e. the standard deviation on the vertical axis, is negatively correlated with the score itself, shown on the horizontal axis.
That is, the higher the score, the smaller the spread tends to be. This suggests the way to achieve high scores is to cultivate a culture in which every client receives the same excellent service, from everyone in the firm, every day.
In firms with large numbers of divisions and/or offices, a high consistency score indicates the firm is behaving as a ‘one-firm firm’ (as David Maister famously expressed it) with a high-performance culture.
The opposite is also true; and not just for large firms. In some smaller firms, we have observed there are differences in service culture between departments, between offices, and even between floors in the same building!
A low consistency score suggests there are ‘firms within the firm’. High consistency means that clients can expect the same level of service across all attributes from all divisions and offices – and over long periods of time.
Finally, where a firm’s scores range widely from excellent to poor, there is potential for real damage to be done to the firm’s brand. This damage occurs because the clients who are dissatisfied with their experience tell many others, thus detracting from the good work done by those in the firm rendering outstanding service.
Achieving and maintaining high consistency is easier said than done. In our experience, these are the key success factors for high performing consistent service to clients:
Clear values around clients and how they are served with statements of explicit behaviours that reflect the values, perhaps expressed in a published client service charter
Unequivocal leadership who 'walk the talk'
Serving internal clients (i.e. staff) the way everyone in the firm is expected to serve external clients (i.e. those 'who pay the rent')
A complaint handling process that encourages clients to voice their concerns and that ensure these are heard, acted on and learnings derived.
Regular, objective measurement and reporting of clients' experience of the firm.
More on this topic
+ Lessons in client complaint handling for every professional services firm by Richard Moorhead
+ The three things that create value for clients by Paul Hugh-Jones
+ Client Choice Awards: Improving the PSF client experience by George Beaton
This post was written by George Beaton.
George is on LinkedIn and tweets at @grbeaton_law, @grbeaton_cee, and @grbeaton_psf and @NewLawNewRules