Thursday 25 January 2018, Birmingham

This session summarised the research findings and was split into four sections; 1) 2018 Opportunities and Challenges, 2) Improving the client experience, 3) Technology, Automation and AI, and 4) Skills and capabilities. 

The research surveyed the BD and marketing leaders to benchmark their thoughts and experiences in professional services. How many people were asked?  Plenty enough to give a good idea of trends.

So, no surprises that most respondents thought the two biggest challenges were Brexit & GDPR, with the third being threats from lower cost competition.

GDPR may well seem like the current big things with 43% of respondents saying they were under prepared for it, but 62% saying the same about Automation of client delivery. 

Have a guess at the top three priorities for 2018? Before you read on… what do you think?

32% wanted to improve client service, 13% were looking to relaunch their brand and 11% wanted to improve their account management systems.

So, improving the client experience… plenty of firms are looking at mapping out client touchpoints (29% looking into it), and 54% are planning on looking into capturing client feedback from clients to understand their experience, and 60% are planning on conducting regular independent reviews.

But only 40% have a process for following up on feedback.  Which is odd considering the looming GDPR.  Because even the current Data Protection Act states you should not collect information you are not going to use.

33% think too many free-of-charge services are given away as ‘added value’ to clients, and Meridian West thought this might be a bit low considering other feedback.  So, if you think you are giving away too much, don’t worry, you are probably not alone!

As for tech helping to improve the client experience and reduce costs, things like directory listings, client feedback and PKI reporting are all valid areas, but it was viewed they’ll never replace the human:human interaction.  Afterall, other feedback is always stating that subject knowledge is presumed and relationships are key to buying services. And not many people have a relationship with their computer programmes.  I presume.

Areas that firms are looking to automate?  39% looking to automate web content, campaign management (30%), CRM data (32%) and client feedback (30%).  Being a bit of a CRM and marketing techie myself, all that is easily done, you just need to setup your processes and invest upfront. Bet it’s still on the cards in the 2019 survey though. 

So, skills of team members. One of the biggest areas of upskilling… is CRM, with 72% of respondents looking to improve internal skills, with specialists always in need for areas of marketing and BD.  So there’s a hint for you if you are looking at a job in professional services – specialise.  Just like your Grandparents may have said when you were young.  “Get a trade Simon” they used to tell me.  And I thought they were talking about being a plumber ;-).

Plenty more in the actual report, just get in contact with Alastair if you want to know more.

A huge thank you to Alastair Beddow from Meridian West for taking his time to present their findings and Anthony Collins Solicitor for hosting the room and very kindly providing the room and refreshments.

Written by Simon McNidder, Database First Aid Limited
Regional Director, PM Forum West Midlands