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Client Insight case study

BDO

Achieving client-focused change
through client feedback programmes
Case Study

BDO
Case Study

Achieving client-focused change
through client feedback programmes
BDO were performing well with generally positive client reviews. However, Allan Evans, the Sales and Marketing Partner, was aware that satisfaction scores had plateaued and, more crucially, that clients were receiving fundamentally different levels of service across the firm.
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BDO were performing well with generally positive client reviews. However, Allan Evans, the Sales and Marketing Partner, was aware that satisfaction scores had plateaued and, more crucially, that clients were receiving fundamentally different levels of service across the firm.
Background: An ambition to create a strong and sustainable client-focused brand

As Allan put it, “there was something in the BDO DNA whereby service was part of what we were, something that we were really good at and we were proud of. It’s just that everybody had a different view of what it was and what it should look like.” This meant that clients working with multiple service lines or different offices had to work out how to navigate BDO, rather than getting the joined-up service, consistent experience they wanted.

Allan recognised that to create a strong and sustainable brand, BDO needed to change this approach. He saw an opportunity to develop a new brand proposition that would introduce more commonality to BDO’s service delivery, allowing the firm to be distinct from competitors. Allan drove transformational change to the BDO brand around the concept of ‘exceptional client service by empowered people.’

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Allan identifies six steps that enabled his success:
01.
Identify the commercial opportunity
02.
Identify the potential blockers in your organisation
03.
Remove surrounding messages
04.
Involve HR
05.
Create an L&D framework
06.
Invest in the launch
1: Identify the commercial opportunity and how will your new proposition fill it

BDO acknowledged early on, in Allan’s words, that “we were never going to lead the market by being rocket scientists with technical ability, and we didn’t want to lead on price.” To identify the opportunity we conducted primary and secondary research and found that 40% of mid-market buyers of accountancy services were dissatisfied with the service they received. As Allan puts it “I had to demonstrate that there was a commercial opportunity and the 40% dissatisfaction gave mesomething.”

2: Identify the potential blockers in your organisation and get them involved as early as possible

At BDO, Allan put this at the top of his priority list. “I had to go and find those partners that were credible with other partners but who, if I had not been able to dissuade and bring inside the tent, would have been a challenge to the successful implementation.” It took a considerable amount of time but Allan was able to convert their scepticism using the data. The fact that this research was carried out by external consultants was crucial in convincing them “because it’s never physician heal thyself.”

3: Remove surrounding messages

Having too many messages and brand statements can be confusing for staff and detracts from the power and distinctiveness of the proposition. Allan says that one of the key things they got right at BDO was “we got rid of lots of surrounding noise, we ditched a lot of language that was attached to our heritage.” They made it clear internally that the new proposition had to take over.

When it came to positioning the proposition with clients, BDO’s approach was clear: “The first thing that comes out of your mouth is exceptional client service by empowered people.”

4: Involve hr to align recognition and reward with adopting the actions behind the proposition

At BDO it took a while for them to gauge that they should be “more aggressive in aligning the rewards systems” as there was an assumption that advisers would understand the potential benefits to the client and “just get it.” Allan feels that BDO could have been even more successful had he involved HR to a greater extent from the outset.

5: Create an L&D framework with a suite of training spanning classroom, online and mobile.

Let people learn on their terms, including when they are on the move. At BDO the L&D framework was based around a principal that “aligned service to winning revenue” so fee-earners could see the benefit to the bottom line.

6: Invest in the launch

BDO chose their partners’ conference to cement the importance of the initiative in partners’ minds: “We took a whole partner conference over to do it and we gave them a sense of theatre and occasion and we invited clients to join us on stage. All of that said to the partners that this is not for Christmas, this is for life, so you’re going to have to get on board with.”

The results: Independent client validation of the changes made, and internal buy-in

BDO are having success with the client-focused brand proposition internally and externally. From an external point of view they are performing well financially and have recorded the highest client satisfaction score in Meridian West’s annual Mid-Market Monitor study in four of the last five years.
Moreover, they are seen as leaders on client service by others in the professional service space.

Internally there has been considerable buy-in from staff with 98% saying that they understand the strategy and 96% positively endorsing it.

However Allan feels that consistency will be key going forward: “I think we need to still improve all our staff members’ 365 mentality as clients can still have a pre-Christmas experience that is not quite as good as it needs to be. I think complacency or apathy is a real thing and people do get bored so we need to keep the energy going.”