Perkins is the largest provider of accounting services in Portland, Oregon and the “most admired” accounting firm in Oregon for 12 years running. According to their most recent ClearlyRated survey results, 84% of their clients gave them a 9+ rating out of 10 on the Net Promoter® scale. 

Click here to learn more about the Net Promoter® Score as a metric for client satisfaction >>

We had the opportunity to speak with Dave Sullivan, Director of Business Development, and Nicola Fleming, Director of Marketing for Perkins & Co, and asked them to share their perspective on client surveys, their journey to measuring the client experience with Net Promoter® Score (NPS®), and how Perkins leverages this key metric to grow their firm. 

Using Client Satisfaction Surveys to Promote Accounting Firm Growth

Perkins & Co partners with ClearlyRated to implement their client satisfaction surveys and compile client feedback into measurable, actionable results. Our platform helps the Perkins team understand exactly where they’re succeeding and where they still have the opportunity to improve, as it relates to the quality of service they deliver and the caliber of the client experience.

ClearlyRated’s partnership with Perkins began in 2012, after Dave identified client surveys, and the Net Promoter® Score in particular, as an opportunity to authentically understand how Perkins & Co’s clients felt about the firm in an unbiased way. 

Dave explained, “When we first learned about ClearlyRated, I could immediately see how their client survey process offered a powerful opportunity for Perkins to walk our talk. We were ready to authentically measure our ability to meaningfully connect with and have relationships with our clients, and the ClearlyRated platform helped make that possible.”

We worked with Perkins & Co to implement a survey that asked critical questions about the client experience. As with any client survey program, we leveraged market research and industry benchmarks to deploy a questionnaire that empowered the Perkins team to quantitatively and qualitatively measure the strength of their client relationships, while also building actionable strategies for improving the client experience over time.

Responding to Positive—and Negative—Feedback 

One of the most intimidating aspects of launching a client satisfaction survey is acknowledging, and preparing for, the reality of negative feedback.

We know that not all accounting firms can deliver a perfect client experience 100% of the time. On the contrary, our industry research shows that more than half of accounting firm clients have experienced an issue with their provider, 55% have considered working with a new firm, and nearly 1 in 5 clients are Detractors of their primary firm (Source: ClearlyRated 2020 Accounting Industry Benchmark Study). Identifying these less-than-happy clients is a critical step towards retaining at-risk revenue, and the steps that your team takes to address and resolve their issues can help to elevate your client’s perception of your brand and protect firm reputation.


Dave remembers feeling apprehensive about unknown (and potentially negative) feedback prior to launching the first Perkins client satisfaction survey in 2012. Of course, Perkins did uncover some Detractors in their initial survey, but Dave ensured that action was taken to address negative feedback and worked with the firm president to build a recovery protocol whenever issues were found. 

What they didn’t fully anticipate was the powerful impact the positive feedback they received would have for their firm.

Dave told us, “Hearing from our happy clients and seeing glowing feedback from key accounts was an incredibly powerful experience! We have learned how to harness this positive feedback as a touchstone to rally our team around our commitment to the client experience and to reinforce our culture of service excellence throughout the firm.”

Our automated survey process delivers feedback from firm Detractors and Promoters to key stakeholders in the firm, helping Perkins immediately recognize and address client relationships when they went wrong—but also specifically recognize and reinforce team members who were getting it right. 

Using Survey Results to Drive Meaningful Internal Change

While flagging firm Promotors and Detractors is one of the most immediate benefits of implementing a ClearlyRated client satisfaction survey, the deeper insights that come from accumulating data over time can be very powerful for setting and evaluating broader cultural change.

One of Perkins & Co’s early findings was that there was some room for growth in their internal communication policies. In fact, one of the major takeaways from that first survey was that they needed to be more responsive to their clients, and they designed a completely new set of communication standards based on their clients’ feedback. 

These standards have become an integral part of company culture: they’re part of the onboarding experience for new hires, and printed resources are available to help everyone from shareholders to administrative assistants remember and execute the standards that are particular to their roles. 

Nicola explained, “We have been surveying our clients annually since 2012, which means we have years’ worth of direct feedback from our clients that makes it easy for us to understand how we’re seen. As a marketer, this client feedback is a really powerful resource, as it informs the firm’s brand strategy and our collective service commitments. Whatever the question, we are starting with a clear understanding of our clients’ perceptions of our team and our firm.”

As Nicola identified, one of the biggest returns on ClearlyRated’s client surveys is the opportunity to see change and impact year over year. 

From an organizational perspective, Dave and other firm leadership used survey data to inform a year-long conversation that resulted in a new set of core values and purpose that were unveiled to the organization in 2019. 

From an internal change management and marketing perspective, Nicola said the qualitative data from their surveys has been essential, whether they’re trying to pitch something internally, communicate best practices, or just communicate “this is who we are.”

As Nicola insisted time and time again during our conversation, the customer data they’ve collected is powerful, and that depth of insight allows them to understand their clients, deliver exactly what they want to receive, and communicate effectively across their organization with the data, testimonials, and key insights they need to enact effective change.

We Love Perkins & Co, but It Isn’t Our Opinion That Counts

One of the many benefits of Perkins and Co’s NPS® survey program is their ability to share validated client feedback with prospects. Not only have they earned the Best of Accounting award for client satisfaction for the last seven years in a row, they also have star ratings and testimonials available on their ClearlyRated profile as well as their about page, thanks to the star ratings widget.

We truly believe that Perkins & Co stands apart as a leader in transparency, accountability, and client service in accounting—and we are beyond proud to be their client satisfaction survey partner. The best part? We’re not the only ones who feel it. Perkins’ clients speak on their behalf, time and time again, and rate them as a preferred partner—no wonder Perkins & Co is Oregon’s “Most Admired” accounting firm!


Interested in implementing a Net Promoter Score program at your firm?