One of my previous blogs looked at why partners might be resistant to implementing a client feedback programme and this post looks at how to gain buy-in for your project.
Identify a client grouping appropriate for a pilot – this could be clients serviced from a particular office, within a particular sector or who purchase from the same service line. Start with a sample of between 10 and 20 clients (fewer will not give you robust enough data). I recommend you identify clients who have been with you for at least six months as they will have experienced various interactions with your firm.
Identify a sponsor
Partner sponsorship is a crucial success factor for all projects, but it is absolutely necessary for those projects which may encounter some internal scepticism. Ideally the sponsor will be a Partner within the team from whose clients you are seeking feedback.
The sponsor’s role is to champion the project internally and help you to remove any barriers to success. One such barrier may be partners who are reluctant to engage and are hindering access to their clients. The sponsor needs to re-iterate the value of the exercise and the benefits to both them and their clients.
Once the survey results are received, analysed and themes are identified, the partner sponsor should be prepared to talk to other partners about the positive changes bought about as a result of the exercise and the value it has realised.
Start with the end in mind
Think about what you want to find out from the exercise and that will give you the basis for your survey. Quantitative questions are great for statistical purposes, but open, qualitative questions will give you real insight into what your clients think and allow you to identify themes arising from the feedback. These themes give you the basis for the next stage in the exercise which is to amplify the positives and address any areas of concern in order to close the feedback loop.
View all feedback as a positive
Often, it’s from the less favourable comments that the most opportunities arise.
For example, your client may say that you are not proactive enough. Once they are asked to expand on this point it could transpire that they are currently only engaging your firm for one service. Unbeknown to your firm, they may have an issue going on elsewhere in their business but because your team are focussed on delivering on their particular piece of work rather than asking your client more generally ‘how’s business going?’ or ‘what challenges are you currently facing?’, they might miss an opportunity for another area of your firm and save your client time and money by appointing an additional adviser.
The resulting behaviour change whereby those business conversations become the norm should then open up more opportunities to increase revenues.
Whilst deciding to embark on a client feedback programme might represent a huge cultural shift in your organisation, its important senior stakeholders understand that it will take time to realise the full benefits of such an initiative.
Firstly, you need to establish a baseline. If you don’t currently survey your clients, you have no basis from which to measure improvement. Your pilot results will give you an early indication of sentiment towards the firm but in order to gain a fuller picture you need to expand the programme to more clients.
Once you have an idea of where you stand in terms of the client service metrics you seek to measure through your survey and identified recurring themes (positive and negative) then the work to make the necessary improvements, promote good practice and empower your people to deliver the best service possible to their clients and realise firm-wide benefits really begins.
Please do contact me for a no-obligation chat about your aspirations for your client feedback programme and how we can work together to gain support from your stakeholders.