Hitting the Reset Button - Reimagine Your Customer's Journey to Improve Client Satisfaction
If client satisfaction is such a top priority at every consulting firm, then why were the metrics most highly correlated to client sat down so dramatically in the SPI 2019 Professional Services Benchmark report? Client referenceability suffered the most with the percentage of reference clients dropping from 74.7% to 71.9%. Projects delivered on time dropped from 79.7% to 76.9%. And to top it off, project overruns climbed from 8.2% to 8.6%. So, we’re certainly not ‘loving on our clients’ the way we think we are!
In the recent Why Client Satisfaction Matters for Consulting Firms: 5 KPIs to Watch webinar, we addressed this very topic. SPI benchmark author Dave Hofferberth, spoke to the 3 top reasons client satisfaction was suffering – the culprits – slower headcount and revenue growth, smaller sales pipeline – so increased discounting, and higher voluntary attrition – it’s taking you a lot longer to hire, train and get your resources billable.
Dave feels that the leading predictor of client satisfaction is on-time engagement delivery. Firm leaders must focus on delivering their services on time by doing the following:
- Implement standardized delivery methodologies – leaders must embed best practices and build in quality in each step and modify or eliminate non-value added steps.
- Increase billable utilization – always balance consultant supply and demand to reduce bench time, and hire resources with several skills to keep consultants billable.
- Minimize project overrun – engagement managers must continually monitor project status, focus on tasks that are over-budget and evaluate scope change cost and revenue.
- Minimize non-billable hours – you need to create detailed engagement plans, keep clients on task, and minimize non-billable work.
Conversely, for the second year in a row, J.D. Power recognized Deltek for providing “an outstanding customer service experience”. Deltek’s Senior Vice President of Customer Care, Brian Daniell spoke on the webinar to share our commitment to providing customers with an exceptional experience, and made recommendations on how consulting firms can do the same.
Deltek’s Customer Care organization started its journey to best in class service by hitting the reset button. Growth and changes in the industry caused us to pause. We made a conscious decision to make customer satisfaction our #1 priority, and that starts at the top. The entire leadership team needs to be invested and focused on the customer! We listened to our customer through multi-channel and multi-touch points – and once we got their feedback – we took action. And it doesn’t stop there – it’s a continuous effort to improve the customer journey.
But not all B2B organizations take this approach. According to Gartner, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price. Another interesting fact from Gartner is that most businesses have the wherewithal to survey their customers to gain actionable insight into how to improve service offerings. However, Brian shared during the webinar that while 95% of firms gather feedback – only 35% actually analyze the results. That’s less than half! Why put out a survey – and have your clients actually take the time to respond, but businesses aren’t reading, reacting or making changes as a result. Only 10% actually implement improvements! And of those who work to satisfy their clients, only 5% let their clients know they’ve actually listened to them and made real, impactful changes.
In B2B, the biggest gap is taking action – companies that fail to take action, aren’t using the feedback to its fullest potential. In effect, they are throwing away the opportunity to create more loyal customers.
The bottom line – stay engaged with your clients! Here are Brian’s recommendations to get face time, and formal and informal feedback beyond the standard ‘customer survey’:
- Participate in Events – customer conferences, industry-focused day events or showcases, virtual events, online customer town halls
- Planned One-on-One Interaction – meet regularly at the client site or your offices, offer collaboration tools for seamless client communications
- Take Advantage of Helpful Online Resources – training, support center/portal, blogs and newsletters
And if you continuously improve and monitor your clients’ success, they will in turn recommend your firm when needed. So, make the effort – it really works!
Why Client Satisfaction Matters for Consulting Firms: 5 KPIs to Watch