The correlation between feedback & profitability has remained a constant feature in data analysis for 20 years

From my regular discussions with advisers all over the country it’s clear that, they are doing everything in their power to assist their clients during the turmoil of COVID-19. Reviews are being undertaken across all facets of the clients’ financial plan, communication has lifted in terms of relevance, frequency and medium, meetings have continued to be held (albeit virtually), staff are continuing to provide outstanding service from their homes and so on.

From where I sit, financial advisers are certainly standing up and doing exactly what their clients expect of them and, in doing so, have clearly risen to the challenge during this ‘moment of truth’. Their clients will no doubt be thinking – ‘thank goodness, my adviser is in control’!

But… is all this being noted, and genuinely appreciated, by the client?

As we start to prepare for the way out of COVID, one of the tasks, which I think should be on every advisers’ ‘to do’ list is to check in with their clients and ascertain their level of satisfaction – how do you think we, your adviser, performed? Was our communication right for you? Did you like our ‘virtual’ meetings? What could we have done a little better?

But why seek feedback at this time? Surely your clients have been through enough, and anyway, you probably won’t have any time as you strive to get your practice back to ‘normal’ (whatever that may look like)? I hear you! But in a relationship based business such as financial planning, perhaps the question should be – why not seek feedback now? You’ll learn stuff, which can only make your practice better and you’ll be paying your clients the respect they deserve.

From a purely business 101 perspective, this is an excellent time to market your practice – perhaps your clients know some friends whose adviser didn’t perform well and maybe there’s an opportunity for referral. Experience tells us that the vast majority of advisers will receive very positive feedback – and this is the perfect opportunity for great testimonials and general market positioning. Unfortunately though this hasn’t been a strength of Australian practices, with only one in three (34% at the time of our latest analysis in January 2020) proactively seeking it, this is despite our analyses conducted over the last 20 years having continually shown:

  • Clients are very willing (pleased in fact) to provide feedback – response rates around 35% have been the average for our CATScan client survey tool.
  • Clients truly appreciate the work of their adviser – while financial services mightn’t be their favourite profession, their own adviser is ‘the best’.
  • Seeking feedback is a significant driver of practice profitability. In our latest industry white paper, Future Ready VIII, it’s noted that the level of profitability of practices who had sought feedback (confidential, anonymous basis) was 71% higher than the rest of their peers who didn’t. The correlation between feedback and profitability has remained a constant feature in our various analyses for 20 years.

So, this may be the perfect time to implement (or at the very least to start preparing) now by:

  1. Deciding, with your staff, which clients to survey. Only seek feedback from clients whose opinions you’ll respect and will listen to. And make sure you have a mix of your top “A”s and the next tier – this will allow you to compare the feedback from both groups (to test your segmentation model – hopefully your “A”s will rate you higher)
  2. Updating your CRM with their latest email details
  3. Choosing a firm to conduct it on your behalf, resisting at all times the temptation to do it yourself (and yes…at Business Health we do excellent client surveys. But we don’t mind who you choose, as long as you do it).  By investing a few dollars (it will probably equate to around a $1 per client), you’ll get an independent and objective assessment, with your results benchmarked against the market. This firm will do all the heavy lifting for you and, as they’re independent of you, your clients will feel less constrained in their feedback and more disposed to provide open and frank feedback – we’ve found the comments freely offered by clients are sometimes of more value than the numerical ratings.
  4. Locking a time into your firm’s calendar now
  5. Appointing a key staff person now as your ‘feedback champion’ and make them responsible for the previous 4 steps.

Too easy, I know. But the stats don’t lie and they tell us that most advisory firms don’t seek feedback, and they probably won’t after this crisis passes.

My question is – will you be any different?

For your consideration.