Making the move to always-on client listening

Are you looking at how your firm can:
  • Win more bids
  • Differentiate your brand
  • Strengthen client relationships
  • Reduce complaints
  • Improve client experience
  • Grow your revenue?
If so you've probably been thinking about how your client listening programme needs to evolve, to help you achieve those objectives. You may even have heard about always-on client listening, and wondered why it’s more effective than traditional client listening approaches

What is client listening?

Client listening is how professional services firms measure the strength of their client relationships, by gathering feedback from their current and prospective clients.
Firms do this in a number of ways. A traditional approach has been to periodically research a selected group of clients, using surveys or interviews. Alternatively, they might gather informal feedback by talking to individual clients. Or they might focus on unsolicited feedback like emails, complaints, reviews.

Client listening can create competitive advantage

Rarely are two client listening programmes the same. Research by The Wicker Group in the US highlighted partner resistance as the number 1 reason client listening struggles to get going. Instead partners rely on their individual relationships to surface day-to-day opportunities and issues. 
This “I know my clients” approach may work at an individual level. But it deprives the firm of the centralised insights it needs to differentiate its brand, win new work and strengthen all client relationships.

That means that firms investing in robust client listening programmes are still ahead of the curve. Read on to discover how your firm can create that competitive advantage.


Traditionally, client listening has been a manual and project-based process, focused on researching clients. Partners would 'opt-in' their clients to an annual research project, like a survey or key account interviews.
Once the research was complete, the results would be analysed by hand and then reported back to the individual partners. A summary would also be shared with the wider firm.
With the research sample biassed towards happy clients, and the results constrained within static PowerPoint slides, it was hard to use results to inform day-to-day actions. Without this link between insights and actions, it was hard to demonstrate the RoI of traditional client listening.
Many firms became trapped between believing that they should listen to clients, but not being able to justify the cost of doing it.

Signs your client listening programme needs a refresh

Have you ever complained that “we don’t have enough data, but neither do we do enough with the data we’ve got”?
It’s a common problem with a narrow research-led approach to client listening, caused by:
  • Data getting stuck in different silos
  • A slow, manual process for analysing the data
  • A seasonal reporting process where results quickly become out-of-date

Data is stuck in different silos

It’s not uncommon for each feedback project to have its own data source and reports, often managed by different teams. Our ‘Future of Client Listening’ Research discovered that feedback data is most commonly stored in ‘Individual files’. Firms have separate spreadsheets for each survey, separate word docs for each transcript, plus several summary reports in PowerPoint or pdf.

Analysing the data is a slow, manual process

With different people doing their own thing, just tracking down and combining the data is hard work. Then you have to “get out the highlighters” to trawl through the open text comments. This data is a goldmine of insights, but having to manually ‘tag’ the comments is a slow and subjective process.

Seasonal results soon become outdated

Traditionally feedback results have been shared in static PowerPoint or pdf reports. While these can make the insights easy to digest, they quickly become 'old news' as fee-earners hear new comments that support old assumptions. As a result, the insights fail to inform individual behaviours and future decision-making.

Is your client listening programme siloed, manual or seasonal?

The net result of these challenges is that traditional client listening has often failed to impact on client experiences. Firms struggled to close the loop and show their client base how they have responded to what they’ve heard from them.
Partners knew client listening was important. But without a clear ROI, it was hard to make the case for a more robust client listening programme.

From project-based to always-on client listening

Graphic to illustrate project lead vs always on client listening.
Amplify the voice of your clients; project led vs always on.
Fortunately forward-looking firms now have an alternative to selective project-based client listening. We call this new approach ‘always-on client listening’.
To develop this new always-on approach to client listening we began with the end in mind. We could see that firms were looking to close the gaps left by research. They were looking to make more informed decisions.

Amplify the voice of your clients

So we started by understanding the decision-making process. Who needed to know what, and when, to make more informed decisions? Then we worked backwards to discover the best sources of data to inform those decisions.

When you work backwards from the required insights, you realise that the voice of the client is being shared in many different places. 

It didn’t make sense to limit client listening to formal research. A client-centric approach would be to unify all the signals that clients are sharing.
Insights can be found in public reviews and testimonials, informal feedback and complaints. Even operational data like billing trends and if/when they pay their bills can be an indicator of client satisfaction.

More details on the future of client listening

What is always-on client listening

Always-on client listening collects both formal and informal feedback from a wide range of clients, at all stages of the client journey. This enables client insights to be collected, shared and actioned in real-time.
Always-on client listening is different from traditional research-based client listening in 3 ways

Unified not siloed

Instead of siloed project data, all formal and informal feedback is unified to create a single source of truth

Automatic not manual

Instead of manual analysis, bespoke AI algorithms automatically analyse quantitative and qualitative data in real-time.

Real-time not seasonal

Instead of static, seasonal reporting, real-time dashboards deliver the latest insights to the right people at the right time.

More details on always-on client listening

AI-powered text analysis

At first glance, making the move to always-on client listening can seem daunting. When you start asking open questions and collecting feedback from all stages of the client journey, you create a lot of data. Analysing it manually quickly becomes impossible.
Fortunately that’s no longer a problem. Modern cloud databases and dedicated AI algorithms can automate the analysis.
This doesn’t mean throwing text data into the black box of a large language model. Nor does it require the dark arts of bribing, threatening or tricking a chat bot into providing more accurate summaries.
The most effective AI text analysis uses a more mature form of AI known as Natural Language Processing (NLP). Our dedicated AI algorithms use NLP to provide a consistent and transparent way to analyse your client feedback.
Imagine being able to instantly see which aspects of your value proposition are resonating (or not) with your clients. Which competitors, marketing channels and people they mention and why they’re standing out. Imagine being able to analyse bid documents, analyst reports and testimonials to ensure your pitch stands out from the crowd.
All these insights are created by our AI-powered text analysis. Rather than asking a long list of multiple choice questions you can now ask a couple of open ended questions to reveal much richer insights. All while keeping your tags and highlighter pens in the draw.

More details on AI text analysis

Creating a feedback flywheel

In a competitive market momentum can be the difference between success and stagnation. This momentum comes from being able to discover and respond to client needs faster than your competitors.
MyCustomerLens helps you achieve that by creating a Feedback Flywheel. This flywheel is at the heart of the always-on client listening approach.
Rather than treating client listening as a series of isolated projects, the Feedback Flywheel links activities together to generate continuous momentum. It creates a virtuous cycle of growth, where insights lead to actions and action generate new insights.

What are the benefits of always-on client listening?

The Feedback Flywheel has 5 stages, each feeding the next and benefiting from what came before.
  • Always be listening - keep your finger on the pulse by collecting feedback across the entire client journey
  • Centralise the data - keep everyone on the same page by combining all your feedback data in one place
  • Automate the analysis - use AI to make sense of text comments in a fast and consistent way
  • Give results context - benchmark insights in real-time to empower faster and more informed decision-making
  • Close the loop - drive action and future engagement by showing clients, prospects and your people what you are doing

Is always-on client listening for us?

Always-on client listening isn’t for everybody. It’s for forward-looking firms that want to make agile and evidence based decisions that help them compete on client experience.
  • Do you want to be collecting more client feedback? 
  • Do you want to listen to more clients more often? 
  • Do you want to be creating actionable insights that drive client experience improvements?
  • Do you need to demonstrate the RoI of your client listening programme?
  • Are you looking for additional insights that can strengthen your firm’s reputation, relationships and/or revenues?
Yes? Then always-on client listening is what you’ve been waiting for.

How to get started with always-on client listening

Always-on client listening is about actionable insights, not tools. So we’ll start with a conversation about the insights your firm needs to make more agile and evidence-based decisions. We’ll help you clarify your vision for your client listening programme, and the impact it can have on your firm.
Then we’ll work backwards to look at the feedback and signals you collect now, and any gaps you feel need filling straight away.
The beauty of the MyCustomerLens platform is its flexibility. You start where you are now, and evolve it if and when you need to. You don’t have to scope - or pay for - features you don’t need yet.

Are you ready to listen differently?

We recommend starting small. Implement quickly, generate early impact, and then grow your client listening programme as engagement expands.
If your firm isn’t ready to move to always-on client listening, we’ll say so. We’ll also share any advice or resources we have to help you make the case for more client listening.
We love to chat about client listening, actionable insights and how firms can deliver great client experiences.
Click the link below to organise an initial conversation with Paul.

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