Channel consultancy DeNove will publicly publish its client satisfaction data online in a bid to combat the "opaque" industry practice of only publishing pre-approved testimonials and canned quotes.
DeNove helps channel firms win business across the board, with a particular focus on government frameworks and outsourcing projects.
From next month, it will publish client satisfaction data in an effort to prove its worth to prospects and become more transparent. Specific client details will remain anonymous and each set of data will be independently audited.
Roger Newman, senior partner at DeNove, told CRN that the industry is not as transparent as it should be.
"It's a very, very opaque market," he said. "We got to a stage where we thought we always tell people we are really good but the reality is you can hide so much incompetence behind reference cases.
"The consultancy and marketing industry doesn't play that way. They prefer to give you one good reference case from the one time they managed to perform well in the year."
"We thought ‘let's bite the bullet' and now we are going to talk the talk and walk the walk and put our figures out there. Nobody else has the guts to do it. If I look at the big consultancy firms, they don't do it. Do you wonder why? I suspect, in many cases, their clients aren't very satisfied."
Newman added that while he expects and hopes customer satisfaction data will be positive, any negative comments and numbers will also be made public as it looks to prove its commitment to transparency.
"The only criticism we've had so far is, when we've shown clients the data, a couple of them have said ‘that looks suspiciously good'," he said. "But to be perfectly honest, if we messed up, we'd publish anyway. We would explain why we messed up and how we will make sure we never mess up again. If one month we are down to 20 per cent [approval rating] we will still publish with a detailed analysis about how customers can be assured this will never happen again."
Customer focus and satisfaction has become increasingly important to companies across the board in recent years, with feedback and reviews forming the basis of whole new companies, such as TripAdvisor.
Further, social selling has exploded, with many believing that customers complete most of their buying journey online before even engaging a company representative.
This, Newman said, was an important factor in deciding to publish client satisfaction data.
"In today's world, we use TripAdvisor all the time," he said. "I've got to say, we're just bringing ourselves into the same world our clients live in. The consultancy and marketing industry doesn't play that way. They prefer to give you one good reference case from the one time they managed to perform well in the year.
"We can put references out there and we can put anonymous quotes out there but the reality is - I won't say it's bull***t - but the reality is that we will do something in the region of 50 to 80 assignments a year and giving customers a couple of reference cases does not reflect what we've done. Putting this data out there, however, it measures every single assignment we undertake and they are audited. Clients can now for the first time, take some real [data]. We're setting the standard for clients."
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