A few years ago I wrote a blog post for Intuit titled, “Using Client Surveys to Improve Client Service.” I had just wrapped up a client survey for the CPA firm I worked for and was armed with a wealth of information. But this information (a.k.a. data metrics) doesn’t mean anything unless you do something with it.
Whenever you are dealing with data, there are a few steps you have to take. You begin with the measurement, the metrics. You then have to analyze what the information is telling you and garner insights from it. The insights lead to the actions you are going to take to improve your current state.
How does this apply to the client survey process? You have data to look at it from both an overall and an individual basis.
On the individual basis, let’s assume the owner of Banana Company shared that he was frustrated that his tax return went on extension this past year. The analysis is easy – he doesn’t want to go on extension. So what are you going to do with this information? Obviously, you are going to get his return done on time. But what does that take? On your end and the company’s? And what steps do you need to put in place to ensure you deliver to his expectations? There is no uniform answer to this question; you have to put together a foolproof plan that works for your firm.
Looking at overall trends is a bit more challenging, as it involves pulling in multiple data sets. But improvements can have a substantial impact on your overall client service. For example, your survey could tell you something like:
- 57% of respondents feel that you are slow to respond
- You had a lot of open-ended responses that discussed response time; one client noted, “a not-so-clear line of communication between the partner and staff results in a very frustrating experience for me.”
- 33% of respondents feel like they have to actively follow-up to get a response from you
- 72% of respondents don’t think you educate them on new ideas and perspectives
- 37% of respondents think you put your interests before theirs.
From the above, you can see that clients want you to be quicker to respond, for sure. But you also see clients who want more from you… a better client experience… new ides they should be considering… a feeling that you care about what is happening to them. That analysis provides some pretty useful insights and proactive firms will act upon the findings.
There are many things you can do here. You could implement internal training on the importance of timely response. You could implement client service plans that set aside time to talk to the client about what’s happening in the business. You could implement regular communication to your clients sharing information that will help them make better business decisions. Chances are, your plan will be multi-pronged, looking at all areas of client engagement so you can create a better client experience.
Data is not useful unless you are going to do something with it. And then you’ll want to look at those metrics over time to ensure you are making progress. If you are lucky enough to have clients take the time and share with you their thoughts, you owe it to them (and yourself) to do something with that data. Most people want to see you succeed and your clients just told you how to do that. It’s your move. Take it!