Client Satisfaction Research
We offer a client research service which is designed to help account managers and sales people to improve their account handling and sales techniques, particularly consultative selling techniques. The method is to research your clients, or the buyers your sales people call on, and get their opinions of your firm and your people.
This produces feedback both for individuals and the whole company. Feedback for individuals is about their strengths and weaknesses and what they need to change. Feedback for the company as a whole is about what buyers think of the company’s image and style, what new messages you should try and put across and so on.
This research makes a difference – “I found the research to be very informative and was pleasantly surprised at the results. There were a few key areas highlighted as having room for improvement, which we have used to further strengthen our relationship with our clients. Sean was persistent though polite in all of his dealings with clients. I would highly recommend the service to anyone wishing to protect their current client database.” – Douglas Gray Head Of Business Development AKD Systems
The research is a very useful staff management tool. Sometimes your staff may be set in their ways. They may not be aware of ways they could tweak what they do which would make a difference. Or perhaps they know they should change. After all, you’ve told them often enough! But they don’t believe it is important. The solution is to bring in a third party to confirm that change is required. Transformation! Your people learn what clients have said. They hear an independent third party confirm that a change in their behaviour will make a difference. As a result, your people change their behaviour. So you achieve an valuable change in behaviour – without any conflict or aggravation!
Overall, our aim is to surprise you. We look for you new things you can do to win more clients, make more money from your existing clients and keep them longer. Sometimes, that means finding that clients would pay more if you changed the way you deliver a service (eg if you delivered it quicker, or offered a guarantee, or added in a little extra which they don’t currently get). Sometimes, it just means making clients aware that you already offer a service.
We look for new ways you can make money. Not necessarily difficult ways. Often we come across little tweaks to the way you work. Perhaps a small add-on service, for which clients will pay. Or a slight change in the way you deliver your work to reflect a client’s preferences. Either way, clients feel you’ve paid attention to their preferences, so they stay with you longer and they ask for new services from you.
So our research will be a trigger for change and improvement in the ways you do things. We focus on things you can do. We don’t dwell on problems which can’t be avoided.
Plus we will ask for positive testimonials from clients. Independent studies consistently show that testimonials improve the results you get from business development. For example, controlled tests show that promotional letters which include testimonials get better response than promotional letters without testimonials. You may not have the time to go round clients collecting positive comments from your clients. But we can do it for you.
Positive comments are also good news stories which you can use to celebrate what your people are doing within the rest of your company.
And sometimes, you don’t even need to act on the survey to get a benefit from it. Your clients will feel valued just because you asked for their opinions.
A special form of client research is post pitch research. For example, “why didn’t we get the business”. Again, clients will be open with a third party about things they wouldn’t tell the agency. Will they tell you that the guy on the end seemed a bit casual about that last question? They will tell us.
Our strategy is to focus on areas where you can do something, not areas where you can’t. For example, if we are aware that there is only one person who can deal with a given client, we won’t spend time in the interview with that client dwelling on the details of a personality clash between sales person and buyer. Of course we’ll mention it in case you want to switch people between accounts, but then we move on to more actionable findings.
However, not all the opportunities we find to improve client satisfaction will be easy to act on. If we come across something that clients want which would be difficult to implement, we use the research to probe the pros and cons for you. If you changed how you did things, could you charge more to compensate for the extra costs? What is the risk that clients will defect if you don’t change? We will give you a clear picture of the pros and cons.
You may think your clients are already open with you about problems, because you get on well with them. But sometimes it is harder to complain to someone you get on well with than anyone else. You probably don’t know everything your best friends think about you! Get an objective view of your strengths and weaknesses. We aim to surprise you.
If you learn nothing new from our work, we’ll refund half the cost.
Overall, traditional quantitative research is backward looking. It is a record keeping exercise. Our research is forward looking, change inspiring – it talks about the ‘how’ and not just the ‘what’.
In particular, quantitative research can only tell you that some kind of action is required. But it can’t tell you exactly what action is required. If a client only scores you three out of five for speed of service, what does that mean? Before you act, you need to know when the client found your service slow, and what happened. Then you need to know how costly it would be to meet the client’s expectations for speed on that kind of occasion. You also need to know whether your slowness affected the client’s propensity to continue using your service – it may be the client doesn’t care that you’re a bit slow. Or they think your slowness is inevitable given the quality of your work. In that case, if you speeded up, the client might conclude that your quality of work must be suffering! And finally, before you act you need to know whether the client would be willing to pay more for more faster service. Quantitative research could not reveal this kind of opportunity to make more money from a client – it is too crude a tool.
Also, traditional quantitative satisfaction scores tend to be less motivating, and they do not allow your people enough room for manoeuvre in how they respond. “Our speed of service only scored 3 / 5, get onto it!” Your people won’t respond well to this message. Direct quotes of what clients say make so much more sense to the people who handles the clients. So much more involving to hear a detailed account of how the slow service on a project affected the clients plans and how the client would have liked it handled. Then you can have an intelligent conversation about the pros and cons of changing how you do things. Then you can reach a group decision about what to do. Everyone will leave that discussion feeling motivated to do what was agreed. Our research is designed to motivate intelligent people who tend make up their own minds about what to do – even though sometimes you would like them to just do what you say!
First, we will agree with you a list of the clients to research, ensuring your most important individual clients, and broader client sectors, are all represented. We carry out the interviews by phone.
We use a structured, standardised questionnaire, but we will not confine ourselves to this, if new issues come up in the interviews. You can insert your own questions for particular clients, eg if you want to ask about a particular project.
We produce a comprehensive report which tells you what your clients think of you. We will also give you a clear set of recommended actions you need to take to maximise client satisfaction in the future. We can either come in and present the report or we can produce a set of presentation slides which you can use to present the findings
Contact Sean Sinclair now to get a quote on this very effective way to develop your staff and make more money from existing clients. Our research will also help you keep clients longer and win more new clients.