George Beaton Columnist

George is the founder and executive chairman of Beaton Research + Consulting, which provides advisory, performance improvement and trouble-shooting services to professional services firms. George's management experience includes executive director roles in advisory, consulting, communications and marketing research firms.

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BRW Client Choice Awards: What makes a winner?

Published 27 February 2013 23:04, Updated 27 February 2013 23:16

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BRW Client Choice Awards: What makes a winner?

The more people you have, the harder it gets to maintain a winning client-focused culture. Photo: iStock

In BRW last week I wrote about the different ways professional services firms respond to the results of the BRW Client Choice Awards. I mused as to why some firms seek to understand the reasons for clients’ ratings of their performance and others don’t.

This column examines how winners of a Client Choice Award benefit from their success and suggests what others can learn. It may sound trite but as a species human beings strive to win. None more so than the partners and staff in professional services firms. Winning on behalf of clients – in a transaction, in a tax dispute or in negotiating a lease. Winning against the KPIs firms set themselves – new business, media mentions.

On awards night every firm that wins announces success on their website and in social media. Emails flash around the world to clients and partners who are travelling. Wins are celebrated at Friday night drinks. Why?

First and foremost it’s pride and a thank-you to clients and staff. Clients have spoken objectively and attested to superior performance, and throughout the year (the relevant measurement period) staff have given their all.

In markets that are incredibly competitive and characterised by remarkably high standards of expertise and service, being named the best by your clients is a rarefied honour. It’s like Olympic gold.

Winning as a whole firm, not as an individual practitioner or as a small team, is what makes a BRW Client Choice Award very special. No other award is based on the statistical significance of actual clients’ voices. Winners range in size from dozens of practitioners up to 5000 or more. The bigger a firm, the harder it gets. In other words, the more people you have, the harder it gets to maintain a winning client-focused culture.

Herding hundreds or thousands of cats in a singular mission is no mean feat and one that few firms have mastered.

Herding hundreds or thousands of cats in a singular mission is no mean feat and one that few firms have mastered.

Winning an award requires supreme consistency. In cricket you win a Test match or World Cup ball by ball, over by over, and session by session. A few slip-ups by a few individuals and it’s game over. Professional services firms are the same. Every touch point, every day with every client makes an impression.

Firms win Client Choice Awards because they have built cultures of pervasive excellence. Some firms manage this feat every year. These are members of a very special club and we should learn from them. And salute them.

George Beaton is a director of Beaton Research + Consulting and Beaton Capital.

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