Creating the ideal customer experience for a tax and consulting firm
A leading assurance, tax, and consulting firm focused on the middle market was looking to leverage a brand positioning we had developed for them by identifying and delivering the “ideal client experience.” The company knew that although its new positioning helped define what the brand should be, it was the client experience it delivered that would ultimately determine what the brand actually is. To complicate matters, it knew the ideal experience would differ somewhat for the various practice areas and service lines of the firm; in other words, the ideal experience for an assurance client would likely be different from the one for a consulting client. The goal was to identify a set of “universal” parameters that would be common to any client engagement delivered by this firm, yet also to identify key aspects of the experience that would be specific to each type of service offering.
The project began by determining the critical touch points—before, during, and after initial engagement—that defined the client experience. Leveraging the previous body of research that informed the brand positioning recommendation, the following variables (common to virtually all practice areas and services) were identified: engagement model, thought leadership, proposal process, methodologies and frameworks, industry experience, partner involvement, and pricing. Discrete Choice Modeling (DCM) research helped determine the level of impact each variable had on clients’ purchase intent, as well as the optimal alternative/option within each variable. With this information in place, strategic recommendations were brought to life through a series of vignettes that illustrated, in a very tangible way, the experience clients were seeking from their “ideal” service provider. Consistent with the client’s objective, the team then determined which elements of the experience applied to every service offering (i.e. universal), and which were specific to individual service offerings.
The company immediately began to make changes to its service offerings and delivery model. One of the key findings from the research was the ability to raise fees on several service offerings (assuming the new client experience was delivered) without it measurably impacting purchase intent or brand perception. The corresponding fee increase on these service offerings alone resulted in a $35 million increase in profit the following year.