Following on from our last three blogs about 'Delivering Service Excellence' we continue with some useful insights into five key areas to help you create a plan for service excellence.
These will cover the following topics:
- Service Standards
- Client Feedback
- Dealing with complaints
- Turning clients into advocates
- Effective relationships.
We will look at the first two of these in this blog exploring the concept of developing service standards and how client feedback can help with this process.
When looking at setting service standards it is always a good idea to consider which elements of your firm's service to clients would benefit from having standards set. Establishing these across the key elements of the service delivery processes of the firm, that are regularly monitored, will help in ensuring the needs of clients are being consistently met. These standards need to be specific, measurable and should again be based on our clients' expectations, not on what we think is good for them.
Such measures help to turn good intentions into consistent sustainable action and some suggestions of what could those standards could look like are included in the free download at the end of this blog.
Client feedback can certainly help in setting your service standards and there are various methods for doing this. The following options are examples that will give you useful insights with varying degree of quality and quantity of information:
- Keeping one's ears and eyes open during current engagements
- Formal, engagement team debriefings with clients
- Conducting a strategic, market research survey, say every three years
- Setting up a client user group (say 5 to 7 clients) that meets two to three times a year
- Visit to key clients by partners or senior managers not involved on the engagement
- A 'reverse' seminar - where a key client is invited to come and talk to the firm about their business, the industry in which they operate and the challenges they face
- A questionnaire sent to clients at the end of each 'significant' engagement
Collecting data is only the start of the process as looking at ways to analyse and validate the data for action will depend upon the feedback method chosen. So it is important to understand the limitations of the methods you have chosen and look at ways to validate the data before making a firm plan for your service standards.
For example a comment from meeting with a client may be a singled out comment based upon the current circumstance rather than the norm, whereas a scale of 1-10 on a survey may be more objective? Any signpost in feedback will give you an action point opportunity with that client and give you indications on improvements and/or opportunities in your service standards. The only way to get better at this is through continuous monitoring and control and align performance measures that are then reviewed on a regular basis.
We will have a look at how to deal with complaints in our next blog. Meanwhile please download our Service Standards guide.