The value of client feedback to professional services firms is well documented. Good client feedback can – and should – help inform the way your firm goes about so many things, from the training it provides through pitching.
And yet, so many professionals let their fears about client feedback hold them back from doing it properly. If you’re one of them, read on.
1. You think the client has too many service providers to bother with you
It’s very unlikely your clients are being bombarded with requests for client feedback.
I recently heard a General Counsel speaking at a conference. He said of the 40 or so firms he uses, not one has ever asked him for client feedback. He also said he’d love the chance to let people know what he thinks (and it would be mostly positive).
The mere act of asking for feedback creates a positive impression on the firm. And by running your own program you’ll stand out from your competitors (Don’t just take my word for it, this study proves it).
2. You think this whole thing will be a one-off waste of time
Client feedback shouldn’t happen in isolation. Make yours an ongoing process of improvement and communicate the role it will play to both your staff and clients.
Tell them you’ll be touching base every quarter to see how you’re progressing and let them see how their input is influencing what you do for them. Then they’ll be able to see how they’re helping shape your business.
3. You think your client will be sceptical about how you’ll use the feedback
Some clients might be worried that what they say in confidence will end up as a testimonial on your firm’s website, so be upfront about how you’re going to use their responses.
If you intend to use responses for performance reviews, let them now. If your client gives staff a glowing reference, tell them it will be relayed to the individual. Giving clients the chance to positively influence someone’s career gives them real power and brings you both together.
4. You think you’ll put your staff offside because clients will say bad things
It’s natural for staff to worry that a disgruntled client will say something unfair.
Be upfront and tell everyone how the feedback will be used. If you do want to use it in performance reviews, be open and fair – give staff the chance to put forward their side of the story.
Of course, not every client will be happy with all of your staff all of the time – sometimes through no one’s fault. So, to counter this, let your staff assess the client too. This will give you context for feedback, comments or ratings.
5. You think your client feedback program will catch your clients by surprise
Let your clients know that you’ll be asking for feedback as early as you can in the relationship – preferably the moment you sign them up.
Some people think this makes the relationship a little artificial because it puts everyone, particularly fee earners, on notice and makes them do everything they can to get a favourable review.
But what’s wrong with that? If it makes your staff a little more client focused, that’s a very good thing indeed.
Client feedback is one of the most powerful business development tools in your arsenal. Don’t let your fears stand in the way of doing it and doing it well.
About Sue-Ella Prodonovich
If you need some help getting a client feedback program up and running in your firm, get in touch with Sue Ella Prodonovich. She is the Principal of Pronovich Advisory, a business dedicated to helping law and accounting practices sharpen their business development practices, attract and retain clients and become more profitable.