‘We know our clients are happy, we already ask them’ is often the response I get when I mention my client feedback offering to individuals I meet. It’s great businesses are seeking their clients’ views but many of them, by their own admission, could improve their feedback programme.
This article looks at the questions I would ask of your feedback programme to ensure it is robust and providing value to your business and your clients.
Who do you ask?
Do you only seek feedback from those who you know are going to give you a positive review? What about the more ‘difficult’ clients? It is often the responses from those clients that the most beneficial insight emanates and from which you have the best opportunity to improve your service offering.
How do you ask them?
Many businesses send out the same online survey to their entire client base regardless of their value to the business. I advocate a tiered system whereby lower value, transactional clients receive an online survey, higher value/high growth potential clients are surveyed via a telephone interview which goes into greater depth and your top clients receive a face to face visit to seek their feedback. This demonstrates integrity and shows you value their business by investing in a more robust feedback programme.
What do you ask?
You need to be asking a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions. Quantitative data will provide you with a baseline from which you can measure improvement or decline (it does happen!). It will allow you to more easily compare performance between offices, service areas etc.
Qualitative data will enable you to identify recurring themes in your service offering and help you to pinpoint areas of strength and those which need a little more work. Telephone and face to face interviews are an excellent way to gather this type of data as the surveyor can seek clarification and ask follow-up questions to glean even further intelligence.
What do you do with the data?
Some businesses treat client feedback as a box ticking exercise, something they feel they ‘should’ do in order to show clients they care. Results can sit ‘on the shelf’, largely unused, apart from perhaps pulling out some of the positive comments for use on the company website.
Client feedback should be treated as part of a coherent company-wide client service and client retention strategy. A properly executed strategy, underpinned by both external and internal communications can enable a business to stand apart from its competitors in the area of client service and attract new and keep more existing clients. Your teams across your whole business are vital to achieving your client service strategy and must be engaged and rewarded appropriately.
How do you act on the feedback?
Closing the feedback loop is vital – the worst thing you can do with a piece of feedback is not act upon it. Why should clients take the time to provide feedback if nothing changes? Trust is eroded and clients are likely to start to look for an alternative provider.
Highlighting the positive changes you have made as a result of the feedback you have received is a great marketing opportunity. Don’t be afraid to say (for example) ‘you told us we could have been clearer about our fees and as a result we have introduced a clearer pricing strategy whereby you receive a quote at the start of a project and at any point more fees may occur, we will discuss and agree this with you in advance’. No-one is perfect and showing you have taken the feedback on board and acted on it demonstrates humility and creates a great deal of trust and goodwill.
Properly executed client feedback programmes are an investment but the cost of acquiring new clients to replace those you may have lost due to ineffective client care far outweighs that of keeping your existing clients happy.
Please contact me to discuss how I can help you to ensure your programme is fit for purpose for the decade ahead. And if you don’t have a client feedback programme in place currently, I can help with that too!