ClearlyRated’s latest accounting buyer research reveals an unsurprising truth about the journey of purchasing services in the accounting industry: Buyers want to know what they can and should expect to experience when working with your firm. Beyond high-quality work that is good value (table stakes concepts that are expected and don’t offer much by way of differentiation) – how can buyers expect their experience to be different than the one they would have with a competitor? And will it be a better experience?
Turns out, you’re not the authority on these matters – your clients are! A key opportunity that professional service firms can use to credibly differentiate involves measuring the client experience with tools like customer surveys and Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology – utilizing the voice of the client. To prospects, the perspective of other buyers helps stand out in a crowded, seemingly-commoditized market.
Embracing Buyer Behavior
There are two common misconceptions about accounting buyer behaviors: (1) Assuming that accounting buyer behavior isn’t changing along with the rest of the world (it is) and (2) believing that measuring client satisfaction is only about identifying and recovering from issues. The real power is in the positive and finding ways to utilize the positive for firm growth!
What’s most important as you begin a client satisfaction survey initiative is that you understand what your goals are. As you search for the software or vendor to help you deploy your program, ensure that you’re conducting your search based on what success looks like and how you can maximize the ROI of the survey program.
Measurements of Success
NPS, in its own right, is a metric to help quantify reputation and referrability. Another powerful metric is the survey response rate (the % of clients who respond when asked for feedback). The higher that number, assuming you’re surveying maximum reach, the more powerful your NPS score.
The client experience is the “final frontier” of differentiation in professional services. With external pressures forcing change in both buyer/client expectations, as well as how firms are structured and do business, it can be easy to “assume” that clients are having a great experience. But that assumption can do a great deal of harm and leaves huge opportunity for growth on the table.
As the accounting industry continues to evolve, the client experience will grow in precedence and importance in how firms align their brand with their service. The firms that will grow the fastest are those that can credibly differentiate on the client experience – and the time to start is now!
A few resources to learn more:
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About Kat Kocurek
Kat Kocurek is the Vice President of Marketing at ClearlyRated, a leading provider of client satisfaction surveys and service quality research for professional service providers. Kat leads ClearlyRated’s growth strategy and market research team and conducts ClearlyRated’s annual Accounting Industry Benchmark Study to uncover the most pressing issues and opportunities faced by accounting firm leaders and marketers. The data her team uncovers details modern buyer behavior and client preferences, along with opportunities for accounting firms to differentiate and credibly boost firm reputation on service quality and the remarkable client experience.