There seems to be a trend to search for the ultimate single metric which is going to predict client loyalty / future purchase / advocacy and so on. Whether it’s the net promoter score, traditional client satisfaction, client effort scores or the next best thing still to be published in the Harvard Business review, there are certainly a lot of articles promoting the best approach. Almost every project I scope has a stakeholder who has a particular favourite and they are always articulate and passionate about why it will work for them.
However, in my opinion, the reality of predicting client behaviour, particularly in a professional services organization, is much more nuanced than using any single measure on its own. Imagine the Chief Executive of British Airways evaluating proposals for which planes are to be put into service based only on the size of the engines they use. You would hope they might have a think about a few other things as well, least of all that it had wings. Similarly, with client measures, you need to consider a more multi-dimensional approach to truly understand what is going on.
That is not to say that the single point measures do not have a place…
For example, if you want a simple, quick indicator of relationship strength that everyone has heard of, consider using the net promoter approach, just don’t expect detailed diagnostics, or for it to help at a transactional level. Most importantly, make sure you understand how it varies in different client segments, because not all clients are equal, so their levels of advocacy are likely to be different too.
If you want to quickly benchmark service delivery and identify areas for improvement across the various touch points in your service chain, then consider using a client effort score. It will help you work out how to make it easier for clients to interact with you at a transactional level and the theory says that it helps you increase lifetime client value. Although, it won’t help you understand what factors, like your price, your range of services, or your competitors have on your client relationships. Also, it’s likely that a new client may feel they have to put in more effort to work with you than someone you have known for years, so segmentation is important here too.
However, if you want to really predict client behaviour then you have to start by understanding your own organisation, what is your strategy for clients, what information needs do you have to deliver this strategy, what appetite for change does the firm have regarding clients. Only then can you develop a tailored approach to collecting the insight you need to identify what clients currently value about your service, so that you can accurately predict how best to optimize your service to the mutual benefit of you and your client.
In today’s highly competitive business environment it is imperative for continued profitable growth that law firms engage in client feedback programmes which are able to collect, receive and analyse on-going client feedback across their entire office network. This will not only help legal practices meet ever increasing client expectations and deliver outstanding levels of service, but it will also help evaluate long term strategic business options and mitigate business risk.