• Q&A

Why CX matters in professional services

In today’s Q&A on Research.Reveal. George Beaton talks with Michael McGlynn, Head of Marketing & Communications for Tonkin + Taylor, a leading New Zealand-based built environment & consulting engineering professional services firm Finalist in the 2019 TVNZ NZ Marketing Awards.

The conversation is about CX, the holy grail for marketing-savvy B2C and B2B companies seeking to manage customers' experience over the duration of their relationship.

Professional services are starting to discover the concept and value of CX. What better way to learn more about this important trend than to…

  1. hear from Michael who is well down the CX path, and

  2. let our readers know about the opportunity to join beaton's forthcoming research project on how clients view CX – please refer to Footnote 1.


Q: Michael, in today’s hyper-competitive world of professional services, where in your opinion should smart professional services firms start when they decide to be more deliberate in lifting CX for their clients?

A: I think smart firms do two things:

  • Firstly, smart firms start with EX (employee experience) before lifting CX. To state the obvious – and remind us of the famous work on the service profit chain (see footnote for details) – unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers. In other words, you are wise to work from the inside out for enduring and successful CX results.

  • Second, to formulate and execute their CX strategy, smart firms rely on feedback from their clients. Afterall the second word in CX is experience; only a client can feel and reflect on their experience.

Q: You’ve referred to client feedback in your response. In your view, what types of client feedback are most powerful in providing a firm and its people with a baseline so that as they go forward they can track the impact of their efforts on CX?

A: The quantitative data from beatonbenchmarks is valuable because it is benchmarked and can be filtered and diced in many ways. The rational responses captured in beatonbenchmarks are useful, and combined with qualitative, emotion-rich responses, become very powerful for designing CX.

Q: Thinking of aspects such as feedback on transactions and the relationship with the firm, what clients think and how they feel, specificity of the behaviours that make them glad or mad, ability to track and benchmark the feedback, the cost and intrusiveness of gathering feedback and offering clients anonymity if they so choose, what’s the logic behind your answer the previous question?

A: My logic is simply that consumers purchasing decisions are driven by unconscious urges, the biggest of which is emotion. We now know this is true in professional services. Emotion is what really drives the purchasing behaviours, and also, decision-making in general. Emotion, embodied in words like glad and mad to which you have referred, is still eschewed by most professional practitioners I know (George: “Me too!”). This is exactly the reason that smart firms have already hopped onto the CX train to create deep competitive advantage.

Q: From what you say, it sounds as though you advocate listening to clients (and prospects?) in a particular way; please share your thinking with our readers.

A: We use ethnological research with empathy interviewing techniques. This uncovers the emotional reasoning to the rational responses we get in beatonbenchmarks. It also enables us to understand the decisive moments critical to our clients’ success and how consultants can make it easy to do business.

Q: Finally, the service profit chain tells us that well-satisfied clients are more often than not found in firms with engaged, happy and competent staff (George: for a handy reference, see Footnote 2). What are your tips for the leaders of firms striving to maximise their clients’ CX and their staff EX?

A: Integrate CX and EX and SX (shareholder experience). When decisions are made there should be aligned value for all three stakeholder segments.

Thanks for joining Research.Reveal. readers today Michael!

Our guest

Michael McGlynn is Head of Marketing and Communications for Tonkin + Taylor, a leading New Zealand-based built environment & consulting engineering professional services firm.

Michael’s passion for CX started on a New Zealand Marketing Association strategic marketing management course in 2013.

You can find Michael on LinkedIn.

Tonkin + Taylor is a serial winner of beaton’s Client Choice Awards.

Footnote 1. Contact shanan.kan@beatonglobal.com or +61 8373 2606 to discuss how your firm will benefit from involvement in beaton's forthcoming research project on how clients view CX.

Footnote 2. The Service Profit Chain(1997) by Harvard Business School professors James L. Heskett, W. Earl Sasser, Jr. and Leonard A. Schlesinger.