As the Expert Network industry continues to impact how thousands of business decisions are made each day, our customers’ need for accurate, qualitative research continues to grow.
Guidepoint’s first client survey was completed by more than one hundred users from over 50 Consulting and Market Research firms across all geographic regions. Representing job functions ranging from Junior Consultants to Principals and Partners, as well as Research / Knowledge Teams, the survey offered a unique window into how Expert Networks could better bridge the gap between customer expectations and customer experience.
COORDINATION, EFFICIENCY, AND TECHNOLOGY. WHAT’S NEXT?
As referenced in the previous article, the primary concerns of Expert Network users remain finding the right experts and screening them to ensure match quality (32 and 31). These pain points were emphasized by Consultants along with coordinating multiple Expert Networks (23).
In a similar context, our survey respondents place higher importance on the profile presentation and technology (rated 3.5 out of 5) compared to language skills (rated 3.4 out of 5) or added services (rated 3.0 out of 5) when asked to evaluate Expert Networks.
Guidepoint’s survey findings indicate the importance Consultants place on having a seamless interaction with Expert Networks, from identifying suitable experts to ensuring a positive, user-friendly experience on portals/platforms (technology). To ensure this, Expert Networks should focus on streamlining existing processes to minimize coordination needs and deploy technological updates where and when possible.
HOW CONSULTANTS CAN MINIMIZE COORDINATION NEEDS
As many Consultancies (from Boutique Consulting firms to Global Management Consultancies) rely on Expert Networks like Guidepoint to act as an extended arm of their project teams and obtain unbiased, hard-to-find information, we have gained valuable insight on how Consultants can best optimize their project workflows.
Below are some best practices we recommend to all Expert Network users:
Create a standard request template to fill in all the project information. This will reduce iterations with multiple Expert Networks.
Optimize communication by sending one email to all the Expert Networks you want to engage on the project (in bcc) instead of sending separate emails.
Organize a conference call with preferred Expert Networks to brief them on your project timeline and immediate needs. This way, they’ll be able to prioritize accordingly.
Make your project preferences known from the beginning. For instance, you can share your go-to communication channel, how often you wish to receive project updates, or if you prefer to have one point of contact instead of multiple.
Introduce a standardized Excel form that all vendors can use to list expert profiles. This will maximize efficiency and enable you to select the best project matches.
On request, expert networks may be willing to set up on-demand, online training for first-time users (e.g., a new class of Consultants).
Ultimately, Consultants are in the driver’s seat when interacting with Expert Networks. They can define the pace, the process, the communication means, and the templates – customizing the interactions to their workflow.
A HIGHLY CUSTOMIZED APPROACH TOWARDS CLIENT SERVICE
The survey revealed that project preferences could differ significantly from one Expert Network user to another. For example, roughly half of respondents prefer to receive and review expert profiles sent “traditionally” via email (78). By contrast, the other half are more inclined to use Excel formats or online platforms for the same task (57 and 29, respectively).
Project requirements extend to compliance and approval processes, tailored presentations of expert profiles, individual usage reports, and much more. So then what is the key learning for Expert Networks? There is no “one size fits all” solution. Flexibility and a customized service approach are critical to a smooth user experience.
HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP
Besides an efficient process and a customer-centric approach, technology is one of the driving forces to increasing value for Consultants when working with Expert Networks.
According to our Expert Network users, the most sought-after functionalities of any Expert Network online portal are “Sorting and filtering of expert profiles per workstream/angle” (4.3 out of 5), “(Direct) booking/scheduling of expert calls” (4.1), “Chatting/following-up with experts” (3.7), “Booking/downloading a transcript” (3.3), and “Booking/downloading a call recording” (3.2).
Linking back to the pain points identified by our respondents, it becomes evident why platform functionalities like sorting expert profiles or scheduling expert calls take precedence. Technological advancements have evolved from business enablers to critical drivers of productivity and profitability. The ability to filter expert profiles based on workstreams or angles removes friction from the process, as does booking phone consultations and other key functionality.
For first-time expert network users, we highly encourage them to test Guidepoint’s platform and get to know the built-in functionalities. This will enable them to maximize its capabilities, allowing them to more efficiently review, filter, and sort expert profiles, book calls, and access video recordings & transcripts, while staying in control of their budget – 24/7.
While Consultants’ main concern is receiving profiles of thoroughly screened experts on time, coordinating with different networks poses an additional challenge to those that have not yet selected their preferred research partners.
- 23 SURVEY RESPONDENTS MENTION COORDINATING WITH MULTIPLE NETWORKS AND HANDLING DIFFERENT COMMUNICATION FORMATS AS MAJOR PAIN POINTS
There are different communication preferences for interacting with Expert Networks depending on every Consulting Firm’s prevalent needs, individual Consultants’ choices, or even case by case.
- HALF OF THE RESPONDENTS PREFER TO RECEIVE AND REVIEW EXPERT PROFILES “TRADITIONALLY” SENT VIA EMAIL (78), WHILE THE OTHER HALF ARE MORE INCLINED TO USE EXCEL FORMATS (29) OR ONLINE PLATFORMS (57) FOR THE SAME TASK
Consultants can drastically improve the effectiveness of their collaboration with research partners by informing them about their preferences for existing and upcoming project interactions.
- AS AN EXPERT NETWORK, GUIDEPOINT BELIEVES IN A HIGHLY CUSTOMIZED SERVICE. OUR TEAMS ADJUST TO MEET CONSULTANTS’ NEEDS, TO HELP THEM BECOME MORE EFFICIENT
Technology is another primary driver of efficiency when working with an Expert Network. Guidepoint consistently uses the feedback obtained from clients to enhance the user experience on our platform.
- THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER FUNCTIONALITIES OF EXPERT NETWORKS’ ONLINE PORTALS ARE “SORTING AND FILTERING OF PROFILES PER WORKSTREAM” (4.3 OUT OF 5), “(DIRECT) BOOKING OF EXPERT CALLS” (4.1), “CHATTING FOLLOWING-UP WITH EXPERTS” (3.7), “BOOKING/DOWNLOADING A TRANSCRIPT” (3.3) AND “BOOKING/DOWNLOADING A CALL RECORDING” (3.2).