Less than one in three firms formally surveyed clients during the GFC. Rod Bertino wonders what the Dickens is going on
The importance of regularly seeking feedback from your clients can never be overestimated. This is especially so when you consider the increased volatility, high-profile corporate collapses, multiple government enquiries and the negative media our profession has endured over the past two years.
Given this, we were somewhat surprised that our recently released Future Ready IV whitepaper found that less than a third of the country’s top advisory firms had formally surveyed their clients during perhaps what was the most tumultuous period in living memory.
It would appear that 70 per cent of Australia’s advisers agree with the second part of the title of this article and the opening line from Charles Dickens’ epic novel, A Tale of Two Cities - for them, it would appear now is not a good time to measure your clients’ satisfaction levels.
We completely disagree. In fact, we argue that, in times like these, you simply cannot afford to just assume all of your clients are comfortable and content. And, for those who may think that the roller-coaster ride we have all been on for the past two years makes it impossible to obtain an increase in underlying client satisfaction, let me share with you the following real life case study.
The Tynan Mackenzie practice in Adelaide, headed by Glenn Sterrey, first completed a Business Health CATScan Client Satisfaction Survey during the second quarter of 2008. While the overall results were very strong, the CATScan did highlight the following three key areas of concern.
- As much as the clients trusted Glenn and truly valued his advice and guidance, many expressed concern that if something should happen to him, their future financial security could be at risk. The practice subsequently added a younger adviser to the team who now attends all client engagement and review meetings.
- In the lead-up to the 2008 CATScan, Glenn’s Adelaide practice had replaced its own longstanding personalised newsletter with the corporate publication produced through Tynan Mackenzie head office. Many of the comments we received throughout the survey made it clear that while the clients still appreciated the new communication vehicle, they sorely missed the personal and intimate nature of the previous editions. The Adelaide practice decided to recommence the local bulletins and use these to supplement the corporate pieces.
- Some clients also expressed a desire for more personalised and proactive communication, so a series of specific communication programs were developed for each of the different client segments. These were heavily tailored to the known needs and interests of each group.
We recently conducted a second CATScan survey of these clients and I am delighted to advise that when measured against the 2008 results, the Adelaide practice recorded an increase in client satisfaction (especially in the areas of communication and reviews) and achieved top quartile ratings in every one of the nine key service delivery areas covered in the CATScan.
Further proof to us that, provided you are willing to listen and then act (don’t embark on any survey process unless you are serious about doing something with the results – client feedback that is perceived to be ignored or discounted can do more harm than good), now is the ideal time to find out what your clients may not be telling you.
And, if you need further convincing, the following extract from the Future Ready IV paper clearly shows 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 74 per cent increase in bottom line profit.
So, as you finalise your plans for the remainder of 2010 and beyond, consider how your clients would rate your performance in the following areas – these are the current national benchmark standings from the 40,000 plus clients that have completed our CATScan survey.
Rod Bertino is a partner and director of Business Health – www.businesshealth.com