Imagine this scenario. You go home tonight and tell your significant other than you don’t need to ask what he or she is feeling because you already know. Dig your grave a little deeper with some comment about the fact that you talk all the time and have been together for years so you don’t need to ask how things are going. Good luck.
When I talk to advisors about why it is that every one of them isn’t gathering client feedback I get some version of the above drama played out between advisor and client. I don’t need to ask for feedback, some say, because I know them so well. It doesn’t work for relationships and it doesn’t work for clients.
Asking for feedback drives client engagement
The research is clear. Client feedback is closely connected to client engagement (and client engagement is closely connected to referrals). 70% of Engaged clients said that being asked for their feedback was important. It matters. Add to that the fact that 68% said they had been asked for feedback, dropping to just 35% among the most disgruntled clients.
Think about it. Client feedback is one of the few things that plays double duty. It helps to drive deeper engagement with your clients and allows you to measure how you are doing. The process of measurement actually drives the outcome.
Top success factors for an effective client survey
1. Ask questions on a range of topics.
Consider the following question categories when structuring your survey: satisfaction, expectations, communication, opportunities and profile. These question categories will allow you to structure, measure or refine a meaningful client experience and uncover additional opportunities among existing clients.
2. Keep it short.
An effective survey should take no more than 5-10 minutes for a client to complete, which is roughly equal to 20 questions. You can consider a shorter survey to increase response rate, however you should balance that against the quality and depth of the information that you gather.
3. Dig deep.
It’s not only important to understand how clients rate you on specific aspects of service, but also the value they place on those things. By asking about both, you can prioritize your effort, focusing only on improving those things that are most important to your clients.
4. Ask actionable questions.
It’s important to generate feedback on aspects of the practice that are within your control. For every question that you include, ask yourself a simple question: How will I change my behavior, or my business, in response to the answers to this question?
5. Set the stage.
Help your clients understand the importance of the survey, not only to your business, but to your ability to meet their needs. A cover letter is your best opportunity to build your case and encourage your clients to take an active role in the relationship
6. Include a deadline for returning the survey.
In order to allow you to analyze your survey results effectively, you’ll need to ensure that you receive all responses by a specific date. Two to three weeks is a reasonable timeframe, the former if all surveys are online and the latter if you are using paper surveys.
7. Include an incentive to respond.
An incentive to complete the survey should be included and clearly linked to the deadline you have established.
8. Make the client’s name optional.
While it’s frustrating to get specific suggestions from a client whose name is not included, making the name optional will increase your response rate and encourage clients to respond more honestly.
9. Follow up with all clients.
Send a follow-up communication to your clients. It’s important for clients who completed the survey to know that you have reviewed their comments and are making changes to reflect the needs of your clients. They need to know it was worth their time to participate.
10. Include an open-ended question.
Include a final question that asks clients how you can improve the business. It allows them to compliment or criticize, with fewer restrictions than the other questions.
When you think about it, given that the client sits at the centre of the work that financial advisors do, it’s surprising the client is not asked more often for feedback. It sends the right message and has an unexpected by-product – it uncovers revenue and referral opportunities.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can outsource the client feedback process, you can can find more information on Advisor Impact’s Client Audit.