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How would your clients rate your service?

a phone with an option to star review and speech bubbles coming out of it.

I’m currently running a very interesting programme for lawyers, helping them to develop their skills in new business development, and managing relationships with existing clients. Part of the purpose of this programme is to remind participants that the levels of service from professional services firms is just as important as technical ability and knowledge. It also looks at the importance of a whole-organisation focus on client engagement and business development. When the entire organisation has this at its heart, it delivers more opportunity and better service levels.

One of the exercises involves asking each person to reflect on a company they have used where they thought the service was excellent, asking them to consider the reasons why. Unsurprisingly to me, the answers were all about service:

  • Efficient dealings throughout

  • Listening to needs and explaining the service or solution clearly

  • Pleasant, positive attitude

  • Unexpectedly high levels of service, going the extra mile

  • Delivering on time

  • Good, clear communication

  • Advanced notice of any issues

Using these experiences, we talked about whether we would use these suppliers again, or recommend them to others, and the reasons why we’d say we had a good experience. Applying this perspective to the way professional firms deal with their own clients – who are often paying a considerable amount in fees – gives people a much clearer idea of why client service is so important. It can affect a company/firm’s reputation and, in turn, its bottom line, and should be given equal importance to technical skill, if an organisation wants to grow.

 

You have to work hard for positive reviews

Without going into the in-depth psychology, the well-documented ‘negativity bias’ means that we are more likely to complain than praise. That means, even if you think you are doing the basic levels of service well, your clients will count that as ‘expected’ service, and would be unlikely to rave about you to their business or personal contacts or, leave you a positive review.

Yet, it may not take much for them to feel that they have received bad service, and they are more likely to be quick to complain or give a negative review. An article in the magazine Inc., shares some interesting statistics about how this works in practice:

 

  1. When customers are unhappy, there's a 91% chance they won't do business with you again. (Lee Resources).

  2. Dissatisfied customers typically tell nine to 15 other people about their experience; some tell 20 or more (White House Office of Consumer Affairs).

  3. A negative customer experience is the reason 86% of consumers stopped doing business with a company (Customer Experience Impact Report).

  4. Good customer experiences leads 42% of consumers to purchase again (Zendesk Customer Service Study).

 

So, in order to get those positive reviews, feedback or recommendations, you need to do four things:

  • Review your current customer service levels so you are confident you are exceeding expectations.

  • Train your people to build good client service into every interaction, and to understand why it matters.

  • Be proactive – ask for referrals, recommendations and feedback to help you grow this side of your business.

  • Act on friendly criticism and make changes to your service approach where necessary.

 

Good news about good client service

According to research by Heinz Marketing and Influitive, 85% of people start their buying process with a referral source. Other reports state that people who come through a referral process are four times more likely to buy from you, and will have a 16% higher lifetime value.

These are great stats for businesses who are serious about building genuine client service levels. Trust and positivity take a long time to build, but once you have that, you’ll find that clients are more engaged with your service and with your people, more likely to discuss issues that arise, rather than just remove their business, and are more likely to stay loyal even if there are personnel changes, or fee increases.

So, for the success of your firm or business, a positive approach to client service can only be good news.

 

How would clients rate your service?

Thinking about the measures we discussed earlier in this article, how do you think your clients would currently rate your service? Could you do more to engage with your clients and show them that you appreciate their business? Is it time to ask for feedback? When was the last time your people had training specifically focused on client engagement and development?

If you are serious about new business development, great client service has to play an important role. Blending vital soft skills with technical expertise is the formula for success – no matter what business you are in.

Fundamentally, clients are needed to keep your organisation going. They are hard won and rarely just keep coming back unless they feel appreciated. In organisations where individuals have their own client base, it’s even more important that they understand how servicing clients well impacts not just on the business, but on their own career prospects.

If you’re interested in learning more, or you’d like to talk about running a similar programme in your business, contact me for a no obligation conversation.