Praxity Global Alliance - Thought Leadership: Customer Experience

The True Power of Client Feedback

How an Alliance-wide CX programme helps Praxity serve its members, reassuring their clients and guiding firm action.

Perception is everything. While branding used to encompass a specific set of parameters, the importance of crowdsourced data today means that reputation touches every aspect of your work. How your firm is perceived in the marketplace is of crucial importance when engaging new clients, so demonstrating confidence and assurance in your offering is a good look. While nothing can quite compare to a direct referral, Net Promoter Scores, as a verifiable measure of your company’s business offering, are extremely powerful. A contemporary version of a word-of-mouth recommendation, these metrics can go beyond marketing and into the heart of how your firm is run. 

The adage of “what gets measured, gets managed”, certainly applies to CX. With robust and definite measurements (at least as far as is possible) any firm can manage existing business prospects better, while also seeing where developments could be made. An NPS Score brings rigour to the intangible, alleviating client anxiety and advertising a good service record with solid verification. It’s important to emphasise the positive effect it can have from within your business. 

CX measurement is, at its heart, about mitigating risk. It helps your firm to understand where it is going wrong and which clients need maintenance. It gives important data about your brand perception and provides a go-to for prospective customers. Furthermore, any accounts at risk can swiftly be identified, whilst internally the direction of the firm’s travel can be identified by its leaders. 

Measuring NPS also helps firms understand what they are doing right. It can highlight strengths or staff who are particularly good at delivering excellence, while being useful in building a databank of testimonials for business development. 

Praxity, as the largest alliance of independent accounting firms in the world, has put the metric of Customer Experience at the heart of its communications strategy. Partnering with Vancouver, Washington-based CX experts ClearlyRated, the Alliance has begun implementing a consistent and independently assessed NPS programme worldwide. 

We are pleased to say that the Praxity Alliance has an aggregated Net Promoter Score of 82.2, which is testament to the outstanding work of our member firms. 

For an accountancy firm, client service depends on the level of their knowledge and expertise. It also depends on their ability to use that knowledge effectively. ClearlyRated’s CEO Eric Gregg puts the importance of this two-way relationship well, “For any professional services firm, the value added is in their knowledge and in their ability to convey it, using it for the benefit of their clients. Any firm’s clients should go away knowing and understanding how they have been helped, and what they have gained by working with you. In this way, leveraging a close relationship is key and helps firms to be proactive, rather than just focusing on the past.” 

There are cases for analysing CX on several levels. For one, it allows firms to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. It can also help to determine where firms are falling short, and in what areas their targets should lie. The process itself also raises pertinent questions, helping to gather insights from every level of operation. Finally, by asking clients the right questions, business leads and cross-selling opportunities can arise with surprising regularity. It’s a rare chance to engage with both your customers and your teams in greater depth on every aspect. 

This is the first time that such a measure has been implemented in a worldwide alliance. The global scale, granularity of data and necessary rigour could have been complex. An important part of Praxity’s approach was to roll out to all member firms at one time, giving senior leaders the time to re-commit to Praxity’s business standard and to onboard their marketing teams effectively.  

How Net Promotor Scores are Measured?

To ascertain an NPS score, clients answer carefully worded satisfaction questionnaires on various metrics on a scale of 1-10, to give quantitative data about your business offering. This is then organised in the following ways - 

Customers who respond to a question with 9-10 are classed as Promoters, who are enthusiastic and loyal users of your service. They are likely to speak positively about your business and bring in new leads. 

Customers who respond in the 7-8 range are known as Passives. they are generally happy but would be equally happy to move to your competition should it suit their needs. 

Customers who respond in the 0-6 range are known as Detractors. These are unhappy or unsatisfied customers whom you are in danger of losing and who may be inclined to share their bad experiences with others. 

Once the survey has been designed and responses have been gathered, getting an NPS score is relatively straightforward – calculate the score by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters to receive a score out of 100. This deceptively simple result is the basis on which your firm can advertise its client service and conduct internal reviews. 

An important aspect of Net Promoter Scores is that they provide quantitative feedback, producing hard data from open-ended questions. While this could be a limitation, this difficulty is addressed as part of the questionnaire. By providing carefully worded follow-up questions to tease out exactly what the experience was, and how it met or failed to meet client expectations, you can go beyond the scope of simple numbers. The combination of the two approaches can give incredibly deep information that reflects on all departments, well beyond individual client accounts. 

The ClearlyRated partnership allows each member firm to maintain their own score, as well as contributing to an aggregate score for the Praxity Alliance as a whole. There is also the ability to create collaborative scores for multi-firm or international projects. This connectivity is a key tenet of Praxity’s structure, providing a way for accountancy professionals to work together seamlessly. Firms collect their own data and hand it to ClearlyRated for analysis and assessment, who then handle the collating of scores across the board.  

As is appropriate for an alliance, the CX initiative came from the ground up, in response to feedback from members. After discussions between firm leaders, a task force was put together featuring marketing experts across different regions within the Praxity Alliance. This task force ascertained what firms were doing in CX, how information was gathered and how it was being used. This gave something of a “state of play” across the whole Alliance, indicating where each firm was doing well and what could be improved. 

An important aspect of the partnership is that each firm retains independent control of their CX metrics. While the Alliance offers its member firms collaboration and interdependence as and when required, each member remains a separate entity that is responsible for their own running. The Alliance contains firms of various sizes with different levels of marketing resource, meaning that the CX strategy had to be scalable in a way that worked as well for all firms, in all markets. Firms are still given the choice of whether to use the ClearlyRated tools or not, but the measure offers opportunity to firms that did not have it previously. 

One of the challenges of measuring customer experience is that you are often not comparing like-for-like. A commitment to measuring CX standards sets the tone both internally and externally, ensuring that the Praxity Alliance speaks with one voice at every level. Making CX scoring consistent across the world means that every affiliated firm speaks the same language and is judged to the same standard. 

A carefully designed survey can help to mitigate biased results, but unfortunately it cannot eliminate them. However as more and more customer feedback is received, more trust can be placed in the data. This is the elegance of a measurable and overarching score - clarifying action rather than obfuscating as more data is received. For firms to remain proactive in addressing their service level, it is an ongoing commitment rather than a single “event”, or a bar they must pass. What’s more, it is only record-keeping of what firms already do day-to-day with their clients, requiring no changes unless the firm sees fit. Rolling that out across the whole of the Praxity Alliance gives all firms a clarity of purpose and a unique position based on Praxity’s key feature – members are independent as well as united. 

Knowing more about the internal workings of your firm can help you to look ahead, identifying underlying issues and exploring opportunities. Market perception is important, but engaging employees in the quest to be better is perhaps the real prize in this area. Close reporting on different aspects of the customer experience may touch many different departments, all of whom have a role to play in your firm’s reputation.  

As the partnership continues to be rolled out across 2024, it will be exciting to see how crowdsourced data can influence and improve the decision-making process both in the Praxity Alliance and within member firms. We are hoping it can be a test case for action on client feedback industry-wide. 

Daxin COO Yue Hong Meets with Daxin Saudi Chairman Abdullah Fahad Al sahli. Credit: Daxin Global 

Amit Popat

Director at Rickard Luckin