Thank you to all who completed the 2018 beatonbenchmarks survey. The feedback you provided is fundamental to the larger professional service firms of Australia and New Zealand. It gives professional services firms the ability to monitor how they are performing in the market and understand how they can improve the value they deliver to clients like you.
As a thank you for taking the time to complete the survey, we present some results from the 2018 beatonbenchmarks survey below. These results are high-level, indicating general trends in the data. We hope you find the findings of interest.
The Net Promoter Score (NPS®) is a popular metric used by firms to gauge client loyalty and overall satisfaction. Based on the Recommend question, the NPS® score ranges between 100 and -100. A positive score indicates there is a higher percentage of promoters (happy, loyal clients) than there are detractors (unhappy clients who are more likely to switch firm). In contrast, a negative score indicates there is a higher proportion of detractors than promoters. For each of the three major professions the trend in NPS® scores is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. NPS® by profession.
The overall NPS® trend is up, but in 2017 and 2018 the trend lines start to plateau. This indicates that the willingness of clients of professional service firms to recommend their products and services for the industry as a whole is plateauing.
This plateauing of the NPS® trend lines is also reflected in other important metrics. Figure 2 shows the average Perceived Value that clients receive from their professional services firms. The scores range between 0 and 10, with a 10 indicating that a client thought they were receiving “Extremely high value”, and a 0 indicating that the client thought they were receiving “Extremely low value”.
Figure 2. Value by profession.
Again the long-term trend is up, but since 2016 the Perceived Value scores are starting to decline or remain flat, similar to the NPS®. This plateauing is more pronounced in the Accounting and Consulting Engineering professions, while the Legal profession appears to be better at maintaining the level of Perceived Value delivered to clients. This indicates that either clients now have higher unmet expectations of the value they should receive, or that the overall performance of firms is declining in the value provided to their clients. In beaton’s opinion, the former explanation is most likely.
One of the consequences of the findings in Figure 2 is clients are considering more firms in the way they procure professional services. Figure 3 shows the average number of firms considered by clients for their organisation’s work. The trend lines are relatively flat until 2016 when they start to increase. This increase is slightly more pronounced in the Accounting and Consulting Engineering professions. The two professions that we saw having a large issue with maintaining perceptions of Value in Figure 2.
Figure 3. Average number of firms considered by profession.
While Figure 3 suggests that clients are starting to consider more firms, clients are not following through on this and trialling more firms. In Figure 4 shows the average number of firms used in the last 12 months.
Figure 4. Average number of firms used by profession.
The trend lines for the last three years are relatively flat. This suggests that while there are concerns for professional firms in terms of the plateauing of NPS® scores and the Perceived Value they are providing, and concerns because clients are starting to consider an increased number of firms in their tendering process, clients are remaining loyal. At least for now.
Overall the results suggest that while important metrics like Perceived Value and NPS® scores are plateauing, clients are not talking with their feet and are not (yet?) trialling more firms.
However, clients of professional service firms are making sure they are more informed, and are considering an increased number of firms in their buying and tendering processes. This is a warning to professional service firms that they cannot take their foot off the pedal. Loyalty has to be earned and continuously so; a firm is only regarded as good as its last job.
And if loyalty is not maintained, clients are now better informed and considering a greater number of firms if they do not deliver.