Most financial advisers and planners don’t run client surveys.
- Some don’t think it’s important
- Many just don’t get around to it
- Others are put off by their compliance partner/department or their PI insurer
Even when surveys are run, they tend to be tick-box exercises for compliance purposes, in the hope that the answers can be used to defend a complaint. That logic is flawed though; completion rates are so low that the chances of a future complainant being one of the handful who completed the survey are tiny.
This negative perception of client surveys means many firms fail to collect genuinely helpful data which they could use to:
- Provide even greater value to clients
- Improve their systems and processes
- Market their business more successfully
So, let’s take a fresh look at client surveys. Here are ten things yours should tell you, but probably don’t right now:
1. Willingness to refer
Use your client survey to understand whether clients are willing to refer you to others. A simple question asking whether they are happy to recommend you, plus a follow-up asking ‘why not?’ if they answer ‘no’, is all that’s needed.
The overall willingness to recommend figure can be used on your website and in your wider marketing. And, the individual answers make great referral conversation starters next time you meet the client. Plus, if they answer ‘no’ and provide an explanation you can use that information to make changes to your business.
2. The frequency clients are recommending you to others
A client saying that they are prepared to refer you to others and actually doing it are two very different things.
Your survey should aim to discover answers to both questions. So, once you’ve asked clients if they are willing to recommend you, ask about how often they do.
Again, this provides great a conversation starter about the people they have referred to you or how you can make it easier for them to recommend you to others.
3. Is working with you helping them to achieve their goals?
We all know financial planning changes lives. And we all know the value your clients receive is greater than the price they pay.
However, we need to prove that to prospective clients. That can be achieved by asking the right question in your survey and using the answers on your website and in your wider marketing.
4. What services do they genuinely value?
There’s often a disconnect between the services a financial adviser or planner thinks their clients’ value and the reality.
Fund selection is a great example. We’ve seen advisers spend huge amounts of time picking funds and building portfolios, yet evidence from surveys we’ve run show that clients rarely care or value that work.
Using your survey to understand which of your services your clients genuinely value will allow you to focus your time and resources on those things and outsource others.
5. Communication between meetings
Our surveys show that clients get huge value from meetings with their adviser or planner but are less happy with the communication between meetings.
That’s potentially a problem. It creates an over-reliance on the relationship between the adviser/planner and the client and means some clients go through much of the year feeling communication could be improved.
Your survey should be used to understand how satisfied clients are with ongoing communication and how, if necessary, they can be improved.
6. How did you perform during the pandemic?
Many of your clients will have looked to you earlier this year for confidence, reassurance, and information. Now’s the perfect time to understand how you performed:
- What did you do well?
- How did you make them feel?
- What could you have done better?
It’s vital that we all learn the lessons from March and April to prepare for the inevitability of future stock market volatility.
7. What keeps them awake at night?
On an individual level, you will know every one of your clients well. However, your client survey should tell you more about the collective concerns of your clients.
By asking about their ‘3 am moments’ (the worries and anxieties they think about in the dead of night,) then cross-referencing answers with age and gender, you’ll be able to significantly improve your marketing:
- It’ll be easier to craft the messaging on your website, so it empathises with their issues
- Your blogs will become more relevant and social media posts more engaging
8. What social media platforms do they use?
Many financial advisers and planners tell us that their clients don’t use social media. The evidence indicates otherwise. For example, the over-55s are now the second largest group of people using Facebook in the UK.
However, your client survey can prove who is right once and for all.
By asking your clients about social media, you will understand:
- Which are the most popular platforms by age and gender, allowing you to better target the resources you allocate to social media
- Which platforms individual clients use. You can then connect with them, so they see (and hopefully share) your posts with their connections
9. What could you do better?
It’s lovely to hear praise. But, the ‘hit’ soon fades and there’s not much you can do with it. Constructive criticism and feedback, though, are far more useful. So, invite it and use your survey to ask clients how you can improve.
An open question, such as “If you were in charge of <insert name of firm> for a day, what would you change about our service?” should do the trick.
Then, look for trends in the answers and implement change. And, if appropriate, pick up individual answers with clients to understand more. They will appreciate being asked and you will build a better business based on their feedback.
10. The charities and community initiatives you could support
We know that many firms look to support local charities and community initiatives. No one has a bottomless pit of time or money, though, so deciding where to target your support isn’t always easy.
Asking your clients for ideas in the survey can be a great place to start. It shows you’re listening and open to ideas.
How often should you run client surveys?
We believe client surveys should be run periodically, not after a new client has been taken on or an annual review completed. Every couple of years works well. This approach allows you to understand improvement (or otherwise) from one fixed point to another.
As an aside, your day-to-day feedback should be collected in public using Google and VouchedFor as the main platforms.
We’re here to help
We’ve run countless surveys over the years for our clients. Next week, we’ll reveal our tried and tested approach.
Right now, though, if you’d like more information about the surveys we run for clients email email@example.com or call 0115 8965 300.