Client satisfaction benchmarks – How do you measure up? (NPS)

At recent referrer management and client relationship management training sessions, we talked about NPS (Net Promoter Score) which measures the propensity or likelihood of recommendation and how it is rapidly becoming the standard measurement of client satisfaction in professional service firms. Several people have asked about client satisfaction benchmarks – How do you measure up? At the end of this post there is a list of market research consultancies with experience of professional services which I update regularly.

Accountancy sector

March 2023 update – Lubbock Fine accountants announces an excellent rating with a NPS score of  78 We are rated EXCELLENT by our clients – Lubbock Fine

There’s some benchmark information at Inavero about NPS in the accountancy sector  in 2018.

What is worrying is that there is a general trend downwards for accountants indicating increasing dissatisfaction with accountancy services. Is it a sign of declining service standards or increasing client expectations? It means that firms can expect to receive fewer recommendations from existing clients in the future.

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Net Promoter Score 31% 31% 28% 18% 19%
Average score 8.03 8.13 8.02 7.67 7.63
% Promoters 49% 51% 48% 43% 43%
% Passives 33% 29% 33% 32% 33%
% Detractors 18% 20% 20% 25% 24%

Legal sector

Inavero also provide 2018 NPS scores for the UK legal sector and it appears to perform at a similar level to the accountancy sector.

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Net Promoter Score 29% 32% 23% 17% 19%
Average score 8.03 8.13 7.88 7.68 7.59
% Promoters 50% 48% 45% 40% 44%
% Passives 30% 36% 33% 37% 30%
% Detractors 21% 16% 22% 23% 26%

Nisus measures NPS as part of its legal sector PVI benchmarking report (see below). Law firms with the highest NPS are as follows:

  1. Addleshaw Goddard (63%)
  2. Allen & Overy (53%)
  3. Osborne Clarke (50%)
  4. Herbert Smith Freehills (49%)
  5. Slaughter & May (45%)
  6. Clyde & Co (39%)
  7. Ashurst (38%)
  8. Shoosmiths (36%)
  9. DWF (36%)
  10. Linklaters (34%)
  11. Gateley (30%)
  12. Norton Rose Fulbright (28%)

Nisus suggests the market average is 24% – which is somewhat higher than that shown above for the accountancy sector and legal sector according to Inavero. Nisus reports that the Magic Circle firms average 30%.

The Nisus report says: “looking at respondent loyalty scores (Net Promoter Score – NPS), we find a strong correlation with personal chemistry”. It suggests that any score higher than 50% is a very strong result and often a market-leading one. 

Property sector

In 2013, GVA  took the bold step of publishing its NPS in its trading report. Based on interviews with 150 clients it reported its NPS was 37% (with  8% detractors, 47% passives and 45% promoters).

Inavero B2B reports  that the average score for the commercial real estate sector is 51% promoters, 26% passives, 23% detractors and NPS overall of 28%. This is higher than both legal and accountancy sectors.

Other industry sectors

In 2016, CustomerGauge showed average NPS for industries

Retail is highest (56%) and telecommunications (27%) is lowest.

Insurance and real estate scores 46%, consulting 43%, financial services 42% and business services 41%.

There’s a global NPS consumer benchmark service at  powered by CustomerGauge. The top performing brands are Tesla Motors (97%), Starbucks (77%), Affirm (82%), Areas (US 80%) and Amazon (61%).

The Temkin Group provides consumer benchmark data for the UK  Top performing brands include: Nationwide (45%), John Lewis (42%), Aldi (41%), Home Bargains (34%) and Nando’s (32).

Satisfaction assessment technology and services

Several people have asked me about providers of NPS related research (and thought leadership research) services for professional service firms.

Notable research agencies in professional services are:

Acritas  focusing on the legal and property sectors

Acuigen There isn’t a list of clients on the web site but I believe they work with a number of law firms. It offers the Customserve system to collect and manage client feedback.

Chorus Insight A relative newcomer formed by people from Nisus

Actionable research – Flare Insight September 2023 there was a case study about how Menzies accountants used this agency for a brand audit. Other PSF clients include: Foot Anstey,  Pinsent Masons, Weightmans and Winckworth Sherwood.

iResearch Research advisory and thought leadership research services. Deloitte is a client

Man Bites Dog “The strategic ideas consultancy” conducting award-winning research in support of thought leadership campaigns. PSF clients include: EY, Hogan Lovells, Korn Ferry,  PA, White & Case

MD Communications also provides client listening services.. Clients include Wildeboer Dellelce corporate lawyers and Stewarts law firm

Meridian West  Whilst this is a general consultancy for professional services firms, its origins were in client research and feedback. It also offers a valuable source of “how to” booklets on a number of topics. Clients represent all sectors and include: Grant Thornton, PwC, Knight Frank, Pinsent Masons and Allen & Overy.

Nisus Consulting  Serving law firms and accountancy practices and there are some useful case studies on the web site. The firm’s unbalanced scorecard is an excellent piece of benchmarking of law firms using on-line data gathering across a range of 20 factors within its PVI (Performance and Value Index)  Twelve month subscriptions for feedback and reporting start at £9,950

Performance Leader I wrote recently about this system which provides a real-time client feedback solution that also captures feedback on individual team members and transactions. A mobile app version is due

These feedback monitoring and research agencies were suggested in March 2022

Feedback surveys | Business insights | PDW Group

Customer Feedback: What to Collect and When | Qualtrics

PS The creator of NPS – Fred Reichheld – recently published a book “Winning on Purpose – the unbeatable strategy of loving customers” which explores the NPS score in more detail.