Issue No. 41 - June/July 2008
What turns your client on - and off?
by Pamela Brombal
Building a business-to-business relationship on price alone is fraught with danger.
Most businesses, particularly professional service firms, believe their clients see the fees charged as the most important criteria in their engagement.
But ask the clients themselves, and the reality is much different.
The size of the invoice is not the biggest influencer in the success or failure of a client relationship.
In the client’s eyes, fees charged are less important than the quality of service provided.
It’s all about the value they receive and if a service is performed well, on time and achieves the desired results.
Consultancy Square Holes has conducted many surveys and research interviews on behalf of professional service firms wanting to find out what their clients think of them in order to improve.
In our research, several key themes emerge that lay waste to the general belief that ‘it’s all about price’.
The clients, which are usually SMEs and larger-sized business themselves, make it clear that the biggest turn-offs are:
•Lack of communication
•No personal relationship
•Poor service standard
•Lack of understanding of client’s business
•Surprises (eg larger than expected bills)
When a business relationship turns sour it is usually due to one of these factors.
Generally, clients are prepared to pay good money as long as, in their eyes, the value of the service matches or exceeds its cost.
Dissatisfaction over fees usually stems from surprises such as cost blowouts that haven’t been explained or flagged, rather than about the agreed regular cost of services.
Below is a summary of the key attributes a client looks for in a service provider, based on our research. It provides a good litmus test for firms evaluating their client relationships.
High quality, reliable service
A client has to be confident...