Stay Interviews

Following on from the last blog, Stay Interviews + BD, I’ve been reflecting on how stay interviews can also serve as a Business Development for professional services.

At its core, stay interviews are about engagement – what drives it and how to increase it. Professional services firms use these interviews to ask their people what is important to them so they will not only stay in their job but also work more productively and passionately. Why not conduct the same research of your own clients, asking what’s important to them for you to keep them as a client and engage them better?

We know it’s important to get feedback from our clients so we can understand if we’re hitting the mark with their expectations of us and also to understand their current and future business needs.

There are two ways you might go about this.

One way is for you to speak directly to your clients, face-to-face. Questions that are part of stay interviews could be modified so that you might ask:

  • Why do you continue to engage my services?
  • Have you ever thought about ending our engagement? If yes, what could we do to make sure you never felt that way again?
  • If you ever did feel that way again, could you come to me directly, so I get the opportunity to make it right?
  • How important is that issue to you today?
  • What’s the single most important thing I can do to enhance your experience as a client?
  • What can I do to make your experience with me and my firm better for you?

Dick Finnigan, who I mentioned in a previous blog says these types of exchanges drive up trust.

Alternatively, you can outsource this to external companies such as Client Culture who provides firms with candid feedback directly from its clients via thoughtful surveys or highly skilled client-centric interviews. They typically get more meaningful feedback as an independent, external party because clients are often reluctant to tell a firm’s lawyers, accountants, or engineers directly how they really feel. These days, given how busy everyone is, it also makes sure to do this in the most efficient way possible. Which is another reason to outsource the function to the experts.

We regularly work with Client Culture, and I can tell you that many professional services firms engage them to objectively seek client feedback so they can measure and benchmark performance to truly understand the client’s experience. It also helps firms understand how their clients see their performance against the firm’s brand, values, and vision – all of which informs the firm’s leadership, investment, and strategy.

Either way, checking in with your clients like this has a number of benefits, including:

  • Demonstrates you care
  • Deepens relationship with your clients and
  • Uncovers business development opportunities.

Engaging with our clients in such a way is an opportunity to strengthen our relationship by asking, listening, and taking action. It’s also the best way to get the client perspective on how the firm can improve its service, so that it can turn more clients into being passionate advocates for the brand.

The alternative, I suppose, is to undertake a Lost Business Review. Meaningful in its own right – and one that I highly recommend – however, remember, we conduct a Lost Business Review when we don’t win a piece of work. Connecting with our clients, asking stay interview-like questions, will perhaps reduce our need for the Lost Business Review.