News article

The 3 ways you should be asking your clients for feedback

Client feedback helps you improve your business and win new clients – if it’s promoted correctly.

We’re regularly asked two questions about client feedback:

  1. “How should I ask for feedback?”
  2. “When should I ask?”

Let’s answer both today.

We believe that there are three main ways to request feedback:

  1. Client surveys
  2. Online ratings and reviews
  3. Client boards.

Each has their place, and we usually recommend a combination of all three. Although, we need to be careful about asking clients for too much, too often. We don’t want them suffering from feedback fatigue.

So, here’s what we’d do if we ran an advice or planning firm.

Client surveys

There’s a right and a wrong time to send client surveys.

The right time: At fixed points, every one or two years. For example, you might send it every January, or every other year in March. That way, you can monitor change from one fixed point in time to another and take appropriate action. It also means that, over the years, clients get into the habit of receiving your survey.

The wrong time: After a new engagement or periodic review. It’s far harder to monitor change this way because you don’t have those fixed points in time. Also, the motivation for regular surveys is often wrong, with questions designed to defend a potential future complaint. Instead, your survey should be a genuine attempt to gain a deeper understanding of what’s gone well and what can be improved. To help, here are 10 things your client surveys should tell you.

Finally, don’t get me started on the handful of compliance departments and PI insurers who actively discourage client surveys because (and I quote) “they might lead to a complaint”. Why wouldn’t you want to know what your clients think?

Online reviews

We recommend that you should publicly display as much of your feedback as possible. That’s why we recommend publishing your client survey results (including the things you might not have got quite right yet) and collecting online reviews.

Our preferred ratings and review platforms are VouchedFor and Google.

We recommend using VouchedFor because:

  • Reviews appear when a potential client searches for an adviser or planner’s name
  • You can use the widget provided by VouchedFor to add ratings and reviews to your website
  • If you get sufficient reviews, you will qualify for their ‘Top-Rated’ adviser guide.

We recommend using Google because:

  • Reviews are seen by potential clients, including those referred to you, who run a search for your business name
  • They help improve your local SEO
  • As we revealed in New Model Adviser, very few firms have large numbers of reviews, so those who do stand out from the crowd.

If you’re just starting to build your online ratings and reviews, we recommend the following:

  • Run an initial project: This means emailing your clients to request Google and VouchedFor reviews. We’ve helped numerous firms do this. In the latest example, a firm we helped received 27 Google reviews and 39 VouchedFor reviews in the space of two days.
  • Regularly topping up your reviews: It’s important to keep your reviews fresh. This applies particularly on VouchedFor where their search algorithm includes the recency of reviews as well as quality and volume. So, at the end of each periodic review meeting, the adviser or planner should ask the client if they are happy to leave a review online. Assuming they are, an email should be sent by a member of the support team (not the adviser or planner) with the appropriate links and instructions.

We understand the concerns some people have about Google reviews as not every client has a Google account. Frankly, though, it’s an excuse. Enough of your clients will have a Google account to enable you to develop a meaningful number of reviews if it’s taken seriously and the right processes are put in place.

Client boards

These are a fantastic way of getting feedback, in private, from people who care about your business and are invested in its success.

In our experience client boards can help you:

  • Understand what’s going well and where you can improve
  • Get feedback on new ideas or changes you might make in your business
  • Learn from people who have experience running other types of business
  • Ensure your clients feel listened to and part of your community.

We generally recommend running client boards every three or six months.

We suggest inviting a wide range of different clients including:

  • A mix of old and new clients
  • Those you know are happy (it’s always nice to hear what’s going well)
  • People who have previously provided constructive criticism (it’s these people you will learn the most from)
  • Those who have a broad range of external experience in running businesses who you could learn from.

You should also think about whether you or one of your team chairs the board or you get a third party to do it. There are advantages and disadvantages for each, which we’ll consider in greater detail in the coming weeks.

Your feedback timetable

To summarise, we recommend asking for feedback as follows:

  • Client surveys: At fixed points every one or two years
  • Online ratings and reviews: As an initial project to get you started and then after each periodic review
  • Client boards: Quarterly or six-monthly

Our experience tells us that this is the right combination to get what you need, without clients succumbing to feedback fatigue.

We’ve helped numerous firms get feedback from their clients and regularly run client surveys, ratings and review projects, and client boards. If you’d like our help, please email or call 0115 8965 300.

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