Importance of client feedback
Professionals know client feedback is important, but not many actively seek it.
There are two reasons for this:
- People are busy, so they don’t get around to it;
- Negative feedback makes people anxious; so they don’t get around to it.
As a firm, you can get ahead of your competition by overcoming the fear of asking for feedback. As a client, you can get better service and have more prosperous relationships with your advisers.
Your clients have the following choices:
Many firms say “if our clients are unhappy, they’ll tell us”. This this is misguided for the following reasons:
- Giving negative feedback is socially awkward, and
- Introverted clients in particular will avoid doing it if you don’t encourage it.
Research indicates that a third to half the population is introverted, which means that some percentage of most firms’ clients are unhappy and not telling them.
It’s you the professional ought to be facilitating feedback, because clients often won’t do it themselves. If you can source it independently, it’s more likely to be frank. It might hurt to hear negative feedback, but it keeps you in the game to retain their business.
This is the worst of client choices from a firm’s point of view. The client’s feedback hasn’t been sought and they become unresponsive. After a period of silence it becomes clear they’ve gone to another firm.
This is a silent killer because it’s easier to explain away as the client’s problem, not the firm’s: “they don’t get it”, rather than “what could we have done better?”. It can be a serious drain if you don’t ensure your unhappy clients are in category A not B.
Exit is a euphemism. It means they fire you, and let you know why. This is never pleasant, but it’s still better than (B) Neglect, because it allows you to learn and improve.
D. Remain Loyal
Remaining loyal means repeat business and recommendation. Identifying your loyal clients helps you grow your practice. If a client answers the question “How likely are you to recommend [your firm] to a friend or colleague?” with a 9 or 10, you should take them up on it and request a recommendation.
Referred clients (i.e. from word of mouth) have up to 20% more life time value than other clients, so it makes sense to identify potential referral sources.
DON’T FEAR FEEDBACK – IT PREVENTS NEGLECT AND EXIT!
To help grow your business profitably, you should encourage client feedback: good, bad and ugly.
Firms say that they don’t want to impose a time cost on their clients but, given the above, this reasoning is dubious. Most people quite enjoy helping others and spending <5 minutes a year giving feedback is not a huge burden.
The unspoken cause of reluctance to seek feedback is fear of what might be learned. While understandable, the clear benefits (A) and (D), and costs of (B) and (C) mean this is an expensive fear to indulge.