The benefits of face-to-face service reviews with Key Clients

What can your firm gain from face-to-face client reviews?

All too often, client dissatisfaction comes as a surprise. Why? Because most clients aren’t asked the right questions.

A client satisfaction review will reveal your client’s perspectives on the work you conduct and how effectively you manage the relationship.A review can alert you to problems before they become unsolvable. But it’s also a great tool for broadening your firm’s relationship with the client. You can learn about potential instructions on a greater range of work and how your service compares to your competition. In fact, just being asked can make a client more loyal to your firm.

The advantages of a face-to-face conversation

Contrary to what you may think, face to face interviews (as opposed to written questionnaires) actually encourage clients to be more candid. It’s easier to explore the subtleties in a relationship or issue as an interviewer can tailor the discussion as it progresses. You’re better able to explore all facets of the relationship and tackle issues that might not otherwise be addressed. And of course, taking the time to meet in person demonstrates a high level of commitment to the relationship which other feedback methods do not.

Topics to explore with your clients

By nature, each face-to-face review will be unique, but here are some areas typically discussed:

  • The full range of services used by the client and the firms used in each area

  • Your service strengths and weaknesses and the client’s specific service preferences

  • Their perception of the strengths and weaknesses of your service offering – are there areas where the client would not use your firm?

  • The client’s selection criteria and process for appointing a supplier

  • The types of added value services that deliver the greatest benefit to the client

  • The client’s preferences on fee structures and the firm’s performance on fee estimates, communication on fees and degree of estimate variation

  • Your competitors’ fees and your current share of work from the client

  • The future plans / priorities for the client’s organization

  • The steps necessary for your firm to retain and grow its share of work from the client

  • Their view of the effectiveness of existing marketing initiatives

FAQs

Q – How are clients selected for a face-to-face interview?

A – Face-to-face research is typically reserved for a firm’s leading clients.In addition to your highest billing clients, criteria for selection can include profitability, potential for growth, range of services used, depth of relationship, degree of recent or upcoming change within the client’s organization, timing of your appointment or the prestige of representing the client.

Q – Will clients take part?

A – Clients typically welcome the opportunity to provide feedback, particularly if they feel the investment of 45 minutes of their time will result in an improved service and relationship with their provider.As a result, very few clients turn down interview requests.

Q – When and where do the interviews take place?

A – The meetings are scheduled at a time and place most convenient for the client.

Q – Are the interviews confidential?

A – Interviewees are encouraged to be candid and to allow all their comments to be reported back internally, but are given the choice to keep all or select comments confidential.Permission is also requested to record the interview so that verbatim comments can be used in the final report when appropriate.

Q – Why is an independent third party the right choice to conduct these interviews?

A – Seeking the candid views of your clients is critical for a true evaluation of the firm’s performance. To properly assess the service quality and the strength of the relationship often requires someone completely independent from that relationship to ask the right questions and probe any issues that could be hurting the relationship.Using a consultant will also help ensure a consistency in questioning, reporting and analysis across all interviews.

Q – How can we ensure an independent interviewer is well informed?

A pre-interview briefing should be held to address a range of issues including:

  • Relationship & billing history, fee arrangements

  • Services currently used and target services

  • Key relationships / personnel

  • Competitor firms’ strengths & weaknesses

  • Any known service issues / problems

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