By Terrie S. Wheeler
Continuing from It’s a Buyer’s Market: Make Sure Your Clients Are Happy, here are some of the most effective ways in which you can gather client feedback and make the most of surveys:
Client Survey Options
Online client satisfaction surveys are easy to develop, customize, distribute and analyze. Generally clients with an existing relationship with your firm will be more likely to respond. This option is good for sampling a large group of clients. However, Web-based surveys lack the personal touch of the methods below. You can also ask clients to provide a testimonial that you could use on the firm’s website.
Great for sampling a few select clients regarding specific, in-depth matters, this method requires a greater personal investment of time and polished communication skills. With this option, there is room for follow- up and clarification in addition to personal attention to specific client concerns. It may not be practical for large-scale information gathering. In telephone surveys, the interviewer must ensure the integrity of the interview process by maintaining the agreed upon timeline, yet asking each question on the survey.
The most time-intensive and high touch of all client survey methods, this option is great for obtaining detailed information from select A-level clients by providing an opportunity to share their thoughts and feedback with a live person. Interviewers must possess impeccable social communication skills as well as a thorough understanding of survey content and purpose. Costly but potentially the highest return.
Conducting a focus group with select current or prospective clients is a great way to solicit feedback on a new service or practice group before launching a full-blown marketing campaign. The focus group environment allows participants to react and respond real-time to predetermined questions. Focus groups generally benefit from having an outside moderator/facilitator lead the discussion.
Which Format Is Right For Your Firm?
Each client survey format has pros and cons. Given your timeline, budget and information needs, one survey may be more effective for you versus another at any given time. It is important is to have a process in place that includes:
- Select the clients you want to survey. Try to be objective and not just select clients you know will say great things.
- Let those selected know they will be receiving a (link or call) to a survey, and how long it will take them to participate or respond.
- Develop a cover email letting clients know how much the firm values their opinion as it seeks to deliver exceptional service. If the survey is Web-based, make sure you identify a deadline.
- Analyze the results and present to the firm.
- Thank participants and communicate results. Clients like to know that they are not alone in singing the firm’s praises.
- Develop an action plan to implement findings.
Before committing to a client satisfaction initiative, make sure the firm is ready to take action on the responses. If there are serious client service issues the firm must be committed to take action to address the problems. If clients see you asked them for feedback then did nothing to change, it can have a very negative impact. Many firms are concerned about asking clients for feedback thinking no news is good news. However, in this competitive climate, it is far better to address client satisfaction proactively. In general, clients are happy you asked for their opinion.
Want to survey your clients, but not sure how to get started? Schedule a call with Terrie today!