Four posts today follow up on a conversation among Jim Hassert, Dan Hull and me. For a summary, see this post. The issue we discussed was whether the person conducting the satisfaction survey should be associated with the firm. Jim followed up with some further thoughts today, reaching the conclusion that he was comfortable with his original opinion that someone from the firm should do the interview. Dan Hull then posted that he was persuaded that Jim and I were right (putting aside for a moment the fact that I stated I no longer was sure that the interviews should be conducted by firm members). Then Michelle Golden weighed in with a terrific post (even though she ignored my post on the topic!) in which she persuasively argues that the interviews should be conducted by a neutral third party. Dan Hull then threw up his hands!
As I said in my post, I was impressed with BTI Consulting's data-driven analysis: "The most interesting things for me where its conclusions that outsiders can more effectively get the client's real feelings and that the number one question for determining client satisfaction is not a ranking on any kind of scale, but instead whether the client has referred the firm to someone else." At the moment, my feeling is that the lead should be an outsider, but that a senior partner should be present. The insider can sense nuance that the outsider may not, and certainly the presence of the senior partner communicates both the importance the firm attaches to the process as well as the value of the client to the firm. Completely outsourcing the process makes it appear to be a checkbook issue, clearly the wrong impression.
As a final note, I could not agree more strongly with Michelle Golden that these encounters should not be for marketing. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.