Joseph Schlosser, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers
There is certainly a difference between B2C and B2B, but even within B2B there is a wide diversity among companies, as well as within one B2B company. Despite this, however, some challenges transcend where you are in your company, or where you are in your program.
At PricewaterhouseCoopers, the context around the survey is the emphasis. We speak of the "PwC experience" -- can we create an experience that will differentiate us from our competitors. We know that all the companies in the Big 4 have technical expertise, a client-focused culture, and a global reach, so the question remains "Can the way we deliver the experience and build on our relationships differentiate us?"
PwC has a top-down commitment to deliver this unique client experience -- not just from our leadership, but down through every member of our staff. We emphasize our Behaviors: listening, providing value (not just to their company, but to their executives and staff), understanding their concerns, creating trusting relationships. Very often we have to have difficult relationships about complex subjects, and we have those conversations in a trusting way, recognizing and respecting our clients' point of view.
NPS is one way to measure how we are doing.
How do we train how to have these interactions?
We formalize the process. On an annual basis, we communicate the value proposition, we solicit feedback, and we communicate the value delivered. The feedback portion is 20% of the process, and the survey is 20% of the feedback. The survey consists of 3 questions, and there are 2 versions based on the services we provide to the client. We survey Fortune 1000 companies and we require 8 roles be surveyed in our audit clients; in our other clients, key executives and decision makers are the majority of the individuals surveyed.
Our Senior Relationship Partner program involves a senior partner in the Firm -- one who is not involved in the service delivery to the client, visiting the client at least once annually to assess the health of the relationship with the Firm. The visit is typically conducted after the survey has been completed.
The unique challenges of operating in a B2B professional services environment:
- survey fatigue
- survey is perceived as a B2C tool
- small sample of surveys, approximately 50% response rate -- using NPS at the client-level hinders true analysis because one respondent can have a huge impact (and skew) the NPS score
- one executive can have enormous (multi-million dollar) decision-making effect; therefore, we must reach these key executives, even if it isn't through the survey
Response Rates are critical.
- firm level survey communications
- account level survey communications
- non-respondents = "silence is deadly"; these individuals may have significant decision making capability
We have completed two years of surveys, and we show an improvement in NPS scores. We attribute this to:
- follow-up with detractors
- reaching out to non-respondents
- one more year has passed following difficult legislation
- improved consistency; the same issues that "wow" our clients are the ones that dissatisfy other clients. When we execute well, it has a significant impact on the relationship (and the scores).
While it is not about the score….
- we do not use NPS for individual performance metrics
- we do use NPS for firm level performance metrics
1. Who follows up with the non-respondents?
The Senior Relationship Partner, the Global Engagement Partner (directly related to the service being provided), or a member of the client team.
2. Do you account for cultural bias?
We only survey in the United States. Firmwide we have other groups like ours in different global territories.
3. What about competition? Do you benchmark?
Statistically, there is not much difference. There does not appear to be much differentiation between the four firms.
4. Where is the Client Experience Team located within PwC?
Senior Leadership drove this from its inception. We work across all leadership.
5. Is the survey electronic or print?
The survey is delivered through an email, as a link to a website.
6. How often do you survey?
Each client is typically surveyed annually, although we administer the survey quarterly, to balance the workload. Our heaviest surveys are at the end of our fiscal year (the first half of the calendar year), which follows the year-end of the majority of our clients.
7. Do you offer incentives [to complete the survey]?
No. We are prevented because of being in a regulated business from providing incentives.
8. How do you recognize those who are closing the loop?
We track the follow-up activities by Partner, and this is incorporated into their annual review.