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Contractors ahead in happiness stakes

CONSULTANTS ARE lagging behind contractors in the race to improve client satisfaction levels, the Construction Industry Board claimed this week.

In a report The Improving Performance of the UK Construction Industry, the CIB says clients' overall satisfaction levels with contractors have risen by 16% since 1995 compared to only 10% for consultants.

Almost one in seven clients now give their contractors a perfect 10 out of 10 satisfaction rating, but only one in 15 consultants score the same.

The report, based on research carried out by the Construction Clients Forum and the British Property Federation, also says small consultants are doing better than large.

Those working on projects worth less than £1M scored an average satisfaction rating of 7.32 out of 10 - a 15% increase on 1995. In contrast, those working on projects worth more than £20M saw a decline of 6% in their client satisfaction rating to an average of 6.09 out of 10.

Consultants were praised for their design creativity and ability to innovate and co-ordinate team members, but were viewed as less impressive in speed of response and reliability.

Contractors were praised most for increased confidence in their ability to keep to the quoted price and to resolve defects, with satisfaction levels growing by 25% in the last four years.

Association of Consulting Engineers director of business affairs Mindy Wilson said the report was encouraging but showed there was still room for improvement.

'Clients' expectation levels are rising all the time and it will be harder and harder for consultants to satisfy them,' she said. 'Large companies can be difficult to control and that is why we have to look carefully at the management processes, and in particular communication.'

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