Asking clients for feedback informally can be an excellent way to conduct "unofficial market research," says Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist Business Development in Montreal.
With written surveys, clients usually have only enough room to write a one-sentence answer for each question. By asking for feedback amid a casual conversation, Gilbert says, you might receive lengthier responses with greater context.
Gilbert offers the following tips on asking for feedback:
1. Ask questions to assess value
Satisfaction-based questions — such as those asking clients to rate a service on a scale of 1 to 10 — work best on written surveys, says Gilbert. If you ask these types of questions face-to-face, clients might feel uncomfortable providing an honest answer.
Instead, Gilbert suggests, ask questions to assess how you can bring greater value to your clients.
If you're considering publishing a newsletter, for example, ask your clients if they would have the time and interest to read it. You might also ask whether the client would be interested in additional service offerings, Gilbert says, such as insurance or education planning.
2. Be mindful of timing
Save your feedback questions until the end of the meeting, Gilbert says. The early part of the meeting should remain client-focussed.
It's also important to be aware of the "the recency effect," Gilbert adds. People tend to remember recent events best. So, we are more easily influenced by the latest information we have seen or heard.
If you have just told a client that the market has gone down and their portfolio has suffered significant losses, Gilbert says, "asking a question on how to improve might not get the best input."
Similarly, if you recently sent your top tier clients fruit baskets, casually asking for feedback afterwards might provide skewed results.
3. Make use of your team
Obtaining feedback doesn't have to be the responsibility of the advisor alone. The process is sometimes easier and more effective as a team initiative, Gilbert says.
For example, assistants can ask clients how well they are being served while they are at the reception desk.
"Sometimes," Gilbert says, "clients will be more comfortable giving feedback to your assistant than to you."
This is the second part in a two-part series on client feedback.
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