News article

The 7 steps to a perfect client survey, featuring Jack Reacher

Understanding what your clients want and need is one of the most important elements of any successful business or product. For example, if a student bar is looking to introduce a new product, they’d see very little success in stocking bottles of Bollinger, as it would simply miss the mark.

One of the biggest examples of missing the mark I’ve personally witnessed involves a beloved book series of mine, Jack Reacher. You’ve probably heard of Lee Child’s series, a 26-book deep collection that’s been going for just under 25 years.

As an avid reader of the series myself, I was delighted when they announced they’d be adapting the books into a film series. In the books, Jack Reacher is described as being blonde, blue-eyed, 6 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 210 to 250lbs with a 50-inch chest. So, casting was never going to be easy.

But never has there been a bigger disappointment than, when the casting was announced, the giant was going to be played by none other than Tom Cruise.

Now, Tom Cruise is a fine actor and more successful than I can ever hope to be, but this was one of the most disastrous casting choices I’ve ever seen. And other Jack Reacher fans agree, with many fans outright refusing to watch the films.

Commercially, both Jack Reacher films saw moderate success, both making well over $150 million at the box office. However, in 2018, the author, Lee Child, himself admitted that Tom Cruise was not right for the part and no more films would be made.

Skip forward several years, and you can now watch a fantastic Jack Reacher series, Reacher, with Alan Ritchson putting in a fantastic performance as the protagonist. The series has widely been lauded by fans, with particular praise for the casting, and a second season was announced just three days after its February 4 release.

Now, while this post so far has been a love letter to one of my favourite series, there is a point to all of this! While Lee Child had very little opportunity to know just how important his fans would find the casting of Jack Reacher, businesses have the perfect opportunity to find out exactly what their clients are feeling, what clients want, and what clients need – and it’s all thanks to client surveys.

Client surveys

Client surveys are the perfect opportunity for firms to review their current position, make sure their clients are happy with the service being provided, and establish what else clients would like to see.

The ideal client survey has seven steps. Following these will ensure that you and your clients get the most out of it.

Step 1 – analysis  

Before you start your survey it’s important to know what questions you want answers to.

  • How satisfied are clients?
  • How could you improve your service?
  • What aspects of your service do clients benefit from?
  • What would clients like to talk about?
  • Where would clients like meetings to take place?

Without having a clear idea of what you want the results of the survey to reveal, you’ll never be able to get the most out of it.

Step 2 – the questions

Potentially the most important part of any client survey is the questions.

It’s vital to ensure that your survey not only has the right questions but the right number of questions. Simply put, if your survey is too long then people won’t complete it. Be sure to only ask questions that are relevant to you and your clients. You only have a limited number, so don’t waste them.

Additionally, make sure you know “who said what” by always asking for a name. If a client leaves an answer about something they’d like to discuss at their next meeting, but you don’t have their name, this information becomes next to useless.

While asking for a name is useful, be sure to give respondents the option to stay anonymous if they wish.

Don’t be scared to ask certain questions. Many firms can be nervous about particular questions, as they fear they might not like the answer, worrying they may be negative. However, this is a sure-fire sign to ask them!

For these types of questions, there are two outcomes:

  • The answers are positive, and you’ll discover you were worried for nothing
  • There are some negative responses that you can address and fix, instead of letting the issues fester.

Finally, only ask questions about things that you’re willing and able to address and/or change. There is nothing worse than clients completing a survey, leaving comments about certain improvements, and nothing being done.

Step 3 – creating the survey

Once you have your questions ready, it’s time to build the survey – or, cough cough, have your marketing agency do it for you!

On the survey itself, be sure to make the survey as on-brand as possible. Use your brand’s colours, include the logo, use language that your clients would be used to.

For example, if your clients would know you as their adviser, refer to yourself as so. If they’d know you as their planner, use planner.

Step 4 – sending the survey

Now you have your questions and built the survey, it’s time to send it out to your clients. It’s important to send out your survey to your entire client bank, ensuring you’re not receiving a restricted view of client feedback.

We recommend sending your client survey out on a Saturday, as this tends to have the best completion rate, as people often have more time.

After the initial send of your client survey, it’s best to send a reminder a couple of weeks later, rounding up any clients that may have missed your first email, or simply forgot to complete the survey.

Step 5 – reviewing the data

A fortnight after your reminder email, it’s now time to close the survey (the chances of receiving any more completions becomes very low) and review the results.

This data should reveal the information you were looking to discover at the start of the process, as well as plenty more. It’s important to not only review the data as a collective and look at averages, percentages, and so on, but to look at individual responses too.

Make sure to keep this data. Attach it to your client records to have on hand at your next meeting and discuss any issues with the client.

Step 6 – sharing the results

After you’ve analysed the results, it’s time to share your feedback!

Create an email that outlines the highlights of the results and any actions you are taking. This is important for several reasons:

  • It’s good for clients that completed the survey to see their time wasn’t wasted
  • It’s a good opportunity to share good feedback about the business
  • It encourages those that didn’t complete the survey this time to complete the next survey you do.

While it’s important to share your results externally, don’t forget to share them internally too. Team members who may not be client-facing will value the opportunity to see the impact the firm’s work has on clients’ lives. And, assuming the feedback is positive, who doesn’t like to read nice things about themselves and the firm they work for?

Step 7 – repeating the process

While one client survey can often reveal a lot, it’s important to keep up the practice of carrying out client surveys. Whether you do this annually, biannually, or otherwise is entirely up to you.

However, we do recommend that you carry out the survey at a similar time of year as you did previously. This is simply because people’s concerns change throughout the year. For example, a client’s major financial concerns are likely to be very different near the end of a tax year than those in the middle of summer.

Unsure what your clients are thinking?

While you can carry out a client survey yourself, we have run countless surveys on behalf of clients and like to think we’re experts at this.

If you think you could benefit from a client survey to find out your clients’ concerns, worries and whether they’d recommend you to their friends and family, we can help. Email or call 0115 8965 300 to find out more.

Stay in touch


Sign up to receive our hints, tips & ideas to improve your marketing.
As you’d expect, we’ll never pass your details to anyone else and if you don’t like what we have to say, you can unsubscribe at any time.