“Our firm is committed to taking the time to understand each customer’s business objectives, both immediate and long-term. We focus on creating value-added, quality solutions based on those objectives through developing and maintaining a partnering mindset on every project. And yet, we are struggling to achieve our targeted revenue growth. We’ve got good people. How do we drive the results we want?”
As I stood there speaking with Tom, I could feel his frustration. He knows his team is doing the right things to drive customer experience and loyalty. And yet, he recognizes there is a missing piece. What can he do to leverage the value they are providing to their existing customers with potential customers? How can he stay top-of-mind with customers and make them aware of all the services his firm offers to increase opportunities to do business with them?
Here are two suggestions I offered Tom. Do they make sense for your firm as well?
Quantify your lists of raving fans!
I’m sure Tom is right in his assessment of which clients love the work his firm is doing. However, there is a gap between the customers who value what his firm is doing for them and those who actually voice that appreciation regularly. This might seem like a fine distinction, but when we tell someone directly how much we value what they do for us, we bias ourselves in their direction (Influence by Robert Cialdini). In other words, the very act of stating rather than just thinking, makes them more likely to tell their peers the same thing.
Implementing a customer feedback program gives your firm a tool to identify and quantify your raving fans. It also keeps your firm (and your customers' appreciation for what you are doing for them) top-of-mind. You talk to your customers regularly as part of your work with them, but those conversations are focused on next steps, tactics, and whatever is the most immediate need. Is your team asking them, "How is my firm’s process working for you?" or “Does our style of communication function well with yours” Probably not. For most of us, that would feel like an awkward conversation.
Using electronic feedback as part of your service delivery process gives your customers the chance to:
- Answer that “How is my firm’s process working” question so it is comfortable for everyone involved.
- Directly state how much they appreciate the work your team is doing for them.
- Let you know about any challenges they have (which gives you have the chance to adjust demonstrating how much you value the relationship).
- Tell you directly that they would happily refer you to a peer (Net Promoter Score or NPS question).
Plus, using electronic feedback lets you give your customers the chance to voice their appreciation of the work you are doing for them on a regular basis. Client Savvy recommends you develop a schedule for requesting feedback that makes sense for projects that differ in size and duration. Our research shows that response rates remain high (40% plus) when recipients are asked as often as every 6-8 weeks, especially if you communicate the feedback checkpoints in advance. We work with our clients to develop the cadence that is right for their firm so that they (and the great work they are doing) remain top-of-mind.
Get more referrals.
Let’s focus on #4. We recommend you include the Net Promoter Score question, “How likely are you to recommend us to a colleague or peer?” as part of your customer feedback program. In addition to the other benefits of gathering feedback data, asking this question lets you quantify who your raving fans are (and will let you know if there are any customers you thought were raving fans that are not!)
Now that you have your list of customers who have said they would happily refer you to their colleagues or peers, it is your job to help them do that. Remember, just because a customer says they are likely to recommend you, does not mean they know who you would like to be recommended to and how to do so. And if they are making recommendations, are you aware of when those conversations happen? It is up to you to facilitate the referral process. There are three key phases to getting the referrals you want and making the process positive for your customer – research, relate, and react. Our whitepaper, Activating a Promoter gives you a step-by-step guide to take you through each phase of the process with checklists and suggestions.
Win more work
Quantifying your raving fans and activating on promoters lets you receive the benefit of the customer-centric culture you have developed. Here’s one additional proven benefit based on over 14 years of R&D at Client Savvy: firms that include a description of how they will employ feedback to ensure success throughout the project as part of their proposal, and demonstrate that process by sending a feedback request after submitting the proposal, are 50% more likely to win the job!
What would that do to you win rate and bottom line?