At a time of massive changes within the industry, it may surprise you to learn that less than 30% of practices collect client feedback on a regular basis. And even then, most struggle to understand and take appropriate action on the results.
I’m regularly informed by licensees that client feedback isn’t something they’re mandating within their network because they want to leave it to each practice to make that decision. When I raise the same question with practice principals, they tell me they don’t need to gather feedback because they know their clients well enough already. The troubling stories arising from the Royal Commission and steep dive in consumer sentiment towards the industry are clear signs that the ‘voice of the client’ has been missing from industry decision-making and public discourse for far too long.
To measure is to know
As Lord Kelvin (the famous Scottish mathematician and scientist) once said “To measure is to know”. In other words, if advisers are not prepared to measure performance based on client feedback, they cannot possibly know with certainty how they are performing (what they’re doing well and not so well) through the eyes of those who pay for the service.
The raft of regulatory changes proposed by Government should be encouragement to licensees, practices and individual advisers to re-think their views about client feedback. Imagine asking clients to execute a Fee Disclosure Statement every year without any evidence of how the client perceives their experience to date and whether they think they are already receiving value for money. Makes for an ‘interesting’ conversation at annual review time.
Furthermore, FASEA’s Code of Ethics requires every adviser to ‘demonstrate, realise and promote’ the underlying values from 1 January 2020 (less than 3 months away). But how can advisers possibly satisfy this legal obligation without data from clients? Sure, licensees can rely on internal compliance processes and systems, but this misses the very important point that the goal of every compliance requirement is to deliver better consumer outcomes. So why not ask the client for their perspective?
Ratings & reviews aren’t the answer
I should add that collecting ratings & reviews for the purpose of generating new clients is a poor substitute for collecting data that improves performance, generates growth opportunities and demonstrates compliance.
Benefits of collecting client feedback
Aside from being able to proactively generate evidence of compliance, here are a range of benefits that client feedback can bring to practices and licensees.
- Clients’ opinions and feelings are acknowledged as being important. Clients will feel like they’ve been listened to and heard and that their opinions count. They’ll feel that you care for them and are genuinely concerned about whether they’re satisfied. Just the act of collecting feedback through a survey can have a profound positive impact on the quality of the relationship.
- Satisfied clients provide affirmative quotes, narratives and stories that can be used to promote the business and these are a good source for testimonials that can be used in marketing activities. Remember, new clients are looking for tangible and credible evidence (social proof) to validate their decision to become a client.
- Your business is escalated in the client’s mind so that referrals can occur and continue into the future.
- Clients feel open to provide honest and upfront feedback to a neutral third party. This insight is often inaccessible in any other manner.
- Clients are reminded of the business’s name and the diligence taken to meet their needs.
- Employees are reminded that their diligence and client focus is paramount.
- As businesses grow, senior managers may become isolated from what is happening on the front line. A well implemented client feedback program provides them with the information they need to make insightful decisions.
- Receiving client feedback enables a business to correct any issues or concerns clients may have. When clients provide feedback, a business is able to save money, time and improve relationships.
- Not being in tune with clients is like living in a parallel universe. The way you think your clients feel is not always the same as what clients really feel, no matter how often you may interact with them.
- A dissatisfied client may tell many other people about their bad experience, which could harm the business’s reputation and have an effect on lifetime value, market share, profits and business valuation. Feedback allows for correction of these problems.
- Some clients will not divulge they are unhappy with the service; they will just stop doing business with you. A situation such as this can be avoided when feedback is requested on a regular basis.
- When client feedback is sought, it enables a better understanding of clients’ needs and concerns. This information can help go above and beyond the call of duty and exceed client expectations, develop loyalty and generate client referrals.
Asking for client feedback can provide extremely valuable insights and other benefits because there’s a lot to be gained and absolutely nothing to lose. All feedback is valuable and all you have to do is ask!