Our Love/Hate Relationship with Client Feedback

September 3, 2019

When you ask your clients for feedback, are you asking about things that matter to them and responding in a meaningful way?

For years now, I have been saying that client segmentation is being taught/implemented incorrectly. Advisors are segmenting their clients based on what is important to the advisor, not the clients. They are missing opportunities to create better experiences and add needed services to their offerings. They also miss the ability to create efficiencies for their office and staff. By getting to know the client better, advisors can build stronger relationships and anticipate their needs.

In today’s guest post, Julie Littlechild, founder and CEO of Absolute Engagement, discusses how most client feedback and surveys are done backwards, too. By focusing on the advisor’s business instead of the client experience, advisors are missing real feedback that can create raving fans.

Most importantly, Julie is providing a discount offer for Practically Speaking readers. This month, we’re thrilled to announce that SEI has partnered with Absolute Engagement to make their client feedback program, Client Insights, available with a tidy savings of $150.

You can learn more about the program SEI – Client Insights  and book a demo

Most advisors (and people for that matter) have a love/hate relationship with client feedback. At some level, we know it’s important; and at another, we’re tainted by experiences that are, well, less than stellar.

Not long ago, I bought a car. I loved the car and the process was as good as I have come to expect when making such a purchase. When all was said and done, I received the dreaded client feedback survey. While I’m paraphrasing (but only slightly), I was told that anything short of a five out of five on the experience would somehow be disastrous for the individual who sold me the car and his family.

Julie LittlechildImagine instead that the salesperson had reached out and told me that I’d be receiving a survey and that my input was not only about providing them with meaningful input, but would help them to help me over the lifetime of my car. Now I’m more open, because the process is more about me than about them, a fatal flaw with the first approach.

What if, in fact, everything was just a little different?

  • What if that survey included a question that asked me about my confidence in understanding the mechanics of my car? And then, based on my admission that it was low, the company sent me a link to an online course called “Everything you need to know about your car but were afraid to ask.”?
  • What if the survey included a question on topics that interested me, from maintaining my car, to planning a road trip? And then I received articles throughout the year that connected back to those topics?
  • What if I was asked about my process to remember to service my car, from how I noted the timing, to how I booked the service, to how the whole process impacted my day? And then I received an update that outlined the measures they were taking to enhance the process based on the feedback received?

What if, in a nutshell, I was asked about the things that mattered to me and the company responded by using that feedback in a meaningful way? It’s a different experience, right?

When we think about client feedback from the perspective of the client, it causes us to focus on gathering insights that will help him or her (not just us). And that changes everything. We can begin to see that client feedback is a way to actively engage clients. And, it’s a way to uncover unmet needs. Suddenly we’ve gone from a process that could annoy a client to one that could drive growth.

And if your own growth isn’t enough to convince you, there is one knock-out reason why we need to gather feedback. It matters to your clients. More than two thirds of clients say that being asked for feedback is important to them.

The challenge, of course, is figuring out what questions will drive engagement and then creating a plan to connect the dots between the data and meaningful action. How do you get it right? You can do it yourself. Or, you can let a pro guide you through every step of the process.

 Yep, that’s where hiring a professional comes along.

The guidance to get it right

Professional client feedback guides you every step of the way and helps you to use client feedback to customize a survey that is exactly right for you, in order to:

  • Drive deeper engagement with existing clients
  • Create a differentiated client experience
  • Streamline service delivery
  • Identify and connect with clients at risk
  • Increase referrals from clients and centers of influence, and
  • Drive organic growth

Where are your gaps?

If you’d like to assess if client feedback can help drive your business forward, then by all means, start engaging with your clients via surveys, focus groups or advisory board. Their feedback is critical to your business. But, think about the questions, the feedback and the action plan. Better yet, hire a professional client feedback professional to guide you through the process.

Julie Littlechild is the Founder and CEO of Absolute Engagement, a firm that helps advisors design a differentiated client experience that drives deeper engagement and growth. Learn more at www.absoluteengagement.com.

Opinions and views expressed are those of Julie Littlechild. SEI bears no responsibility for their accuracy. Julie Littlechild and Absolute Engagement are not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries.

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