The importance of regularly seeking feedback from your clients can never be overestimated. This is true in any market conditions but especially so in times of increased volatility and negative returns. So, if your clients truly are your most valuable asset, then why is it that over half of all Australian advisory practices have no structured approach to actively seeking feedback?
Given the tumultuous investment markets of late, why haven’t the 53 per cent of practices taken any action? Could it be:
• Principals don’t know how to construct and implement a
survey capability (or don’t know who can help them do it)?
• It simply doesn’t rate as highly as other pressing work priorities?
• Maybe it all gets down to cost at the end of the day – can a
practice afford the cost of implementing a client survey?
• Possibly many principals assume they already know what
their clients think?
• Perhaps “ignorance is bliss” and some principals just don’t
want to know?
These are all commonly expressed reasons and (except for the last one), all have some degree of validity. However the following table clearly demonstrates that the practices that invest the time, effort and money to find out what their clients are thinking, not only strengthen their relationships, but also generate (on average) a 67 per cent increase in bottom line profit.
There are a number of different ways to seek feedback from your clients and all have their pros and cons (see the breakout below). However, regardless of the approach adopted, following are the Business Health Top 10 Tips to maximise the benefit of your survey:
• Don’t embark on this process unless you are serious about doing something with the results – client feedback that is ignored or discounted can do more harm than good.
• Only include clients whose opinion you value – then you are almost compelled to act on the findings.
• Ensure you are able to differentiate your “A” class (or very best) client responses from the others – these are your most valuable clients and it is vital to know how satisfied they are.
• Adopt a structured approach – it is hard for a client to give you an objective assessment (good or bad) when you have just bought them a drink at a Christmas function!
• Guarantee your clients’ confidentiality and anonymity – this will ensure completely honest (and sometimes brutally frank) feedback.
• Don’t just consider your findings in isolation – benchmark your results against your peers and colleagues (or better still, best in class practices).
• Ensure you thank your clients for taking the time to provide you with their feedback – no-one likes to think their efforts have been taken for granted. A little thank you goes a long way.
• Share your results with your clients, prospects, referral partners and of course your staff – post selected extracts to your website, include a summary in your next newsletter, incorporate testimonials into your marketing/promotional material.
It is not set and forget – your first survey will create a baseline from which you will be able to measure your progress over time (we recommend that you conduct client surveys at least on an 18-month to two-year cycle).
Act on the key findings and continually remind your clients that the changes are a direct result of their feedback.
DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO SEEKING CLIENT FEEDBACK
Can be expensive
Can be hijacked by strong personalities, providing only marginal feedback
One on Ones
Expensive both in terms of time invested and dollar cost
Better results if facilitated by an external party
Can often be considered intrusive by clients
Asks for quick response with limited time to consider answers
Telemarketers often have no financial services experience – supple- mentary questions by client and subsequent explanation can often confuse the results
May not illicit completely open and honest feedback
Can be disruptive and expensive
Results can not be measured against peers/competitors
Independent Written Survey
Offers time to provide a considered response
Confidentiality/anonymity generally results in more honest responses
Results can be benchmarked to the broader marketplace
Often the most cost effective deserve a differentiated service. Make sure your communication program recognises your “A” class clients.