Practice Excellence Survey: Early findings

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John Stokdyk
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The results are in from more than 3,700 clients taking part in the 2013 Practice Excellence Survey and are already being shared with participating firms.

More than 3,337 comments and testimonials were received from clients of 128 accountancy practices, making the Practice Excellence Survey the most comprehensive client satisfaction study carried out within the profession. Taking part in the Practice Excellence Programme is free, but practices that pay an extra £249 will receive benchmarking reports including detailed sector analyses plus the comments and testimonials from their own clients.

The programme will culminate in the traditional Practice Excellence Awards, in which the leading 10 firms in the small, medium and large practice categories are invited to submit entries to a panel of expert judges. They will decide three nominees in each category, with the winners decided by the votes of AccountingWEB members. This three-stage process makes the awards a true 360-degree assessment.

The Practice Excellence Programme first started in 2011 and was dedicated from the outset to encouraging firms to focus on client satisfaction and sharing best practices between them to improve the wider profession. For the past three years AccountingWEB has assembled a treasure trove of feedback from clients and practitioners to establish the key things that make clients happy and firms successful.

The online survey had a new format for 2013. Run in conjunction with customer satisfaction experts Smith & Henderson and offered as a free basic service, the number of participating firms jumped 85% and the survey comments and responses more than doubled. The 2013 satisfaction scores in various categories have been collected on a more sensitive scale (1-10) and where possible, these have been linked back to adjusted ratings from previous years’ Practice Excellence surveys.

As we can see in the charts right the bigger survey response was accompanied by a 4% fall in the key measure of clients’ willingness to recommend their accountant to friends and colleagues. Casting a wider net and increasing the range of responses means that a slight drop in the overall results is understandable. Rather than seeing the drop in key measures as cause for alarm, the global figure is encouraging. Confirmation or otherwise of the prevailing trends will emerge from comparisons of the results from firms that have participated in the programme for all three years.

Individual firms have already received their initial results. In the weeks to come, AccountingWEB will be going through the responses to get a clearer picture of trends within the profession and the Practice Excellence Awards judges will be scrutinising entries from the best performing firms.

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