In 2019, Oprah Winfrey gave a keynote speech at the Qualtrics X4 Summit about intention being a driving force in her life. She opened with a story about how approaching every action with intent and purpose led her to a breakthrough in her career. That got me thinking…

What should be the intent of a professional service provider? 

Many organizations would probably answer with, “to deliver exceptional value to our clients” or something along those lines. But how do you know what your clients are really experiencing by working with a professional service provider? Is there a gap between what clients envisioned and their reality?

Closing the client experience (CX) gap can be an effective way to truly differentiate your firm and fuel your marketing engine. I’ll explain.

Mark Schaefer’s book, Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins chronicles the marketing profession and how it has undergone two major consumer “rebellions” to date — one against lies and false claims early in the days of the marketing profession, and another against secrets and lack of transparency at the turn of the 21st century. 

Mark believes there to be a third rebellion happening right now — the end of our ability to control the marketing narrative and the return of power to the buyer (or in our case, the client). He contends that the client is your marketing department because of the power of word-of-mouth referrals amplified today by social media.

The logic here is simple and time-tested. If your clients have a breakthrough experience working with your firm, it can tip the scale and turn your average clients into raving promoters of your brand.

Which begs the question: is a sub-optimal client experience in professional services playing a role in the decline of referrals over the past five years? 

Can you truly claim to have a breakthrough CX program?

B2B CX is Different than B2C

At the same summit, Steve Walker also spoke on how B2B CX is different. He even structured his speech to be syndicated on his podcast. (Talk about tactical marketing excellence.)

His session outlines what a CX program in professional services looks like. The first step in a successful CX program is to map out the client’s journey and set up “listening posts” at critical milestones. 

The Merging of O- and X- Data

Setting up listening posts at each stage of the buyer journey enables you to collect experiential (X) data to analyze in conjunction with operational (O) data like web visits, content downloads and form fills.

While surveys are a great way to collect X data, there are other alternatives as well. For instance, Qualtrics breakthrough voice analytics technology — AI that can listen in on your phone conversations with prospects and clients and read the tone of their voice to tell you whether the conversation is going well or not. All of this can be done in real-time.

Post-sale, listening posts can be set up at key project milestones. Analyzing this data alongside project data like schedule variance (SV) and cost performance index (CPI) will show where your clients experience emotional highs and lows, enabling you to proactively tune your service delivery and turn your clients into fanatics of your brand.

Then, once you understand the metrics that drive your client experience it’s important to select one key metric to tie to financial performance to prove ROI of your client experience program.


In order for professional services firms to survive this third marketing rebellion and to deliver a distinctive client experience, we must implement client-centric marketing actions. And instead of taking stabs in the dark, the most successful businesses today leverage the merger of O- and X- data to deliver a breakthrough client experience.