Your Thriving Practice

You’ve got client feedback. Now what?

Gathering feedback from clients is an essential part of many businesses, and it is especially important for financial professionals. In addition to letting you know what you’re doing right, honest, and constructive feedback can shed light on what you can do better and how you can strengthen the relationship between you and your clients and create a better customer experience.

Of course, collecting feedback can often be easier said than done. You may have clients who are hesitant to provide their thoughts, and unless you have a streamlined process for reviewing it, you may find it difficult to act on any insightful kernels of feedback.

Having a system in place to receive and act on client observations can prove beneficial for both parties. Here’s a closer look at how to effectively receive and implement client reviews.

Getting the feedback you need

Before you can take steps to improve, you must collect input. This can be stressful — putting yourself out there to ask for an honest assessment of your work isn’t easy. But there are a few proven methods that make this experience a little easier. Ed Batista, an executive coach, says asking for frank assessment regularly makes it less stressful.

“If you’re having a feedback conversation every week, there’s less to be surprised by and more opportunity to modify your behavior.”

“If you’re having a feedback conversation every week, there’s less to be surprised by and more opportunity to modify your behavior,” Batista told the Harvard Business Review.

One common way financial professionals to be evaluated is through client advisory boards. These groups are made up of select clients and are brought together at regular intervals to meet for about an hour. These discussions can be as loose or as regimented as you want, but they’re essentially a focus group. You should ask questions about whether you’ve met their expectations, what you do well, whether they’d recommend you to their network, and what you could do to improve your relationship.

Client advisory boards are just one strategy, however. For some, this may not be a feasible option and you may not want to impose any extra “work” on your clients. Luckily, there’s another option: client surveys. Incorporating annual surveys as part of your practice is a straightforward way to get regular feedback from your clients. In addition to being less time-consuming than client advisory boards, you might find that clients are more likely to be candid if they are given an anonymous survey. Here’s a few questions you should consider including in your year-end survey:

  • How would you rate your overall experience?
  • Are you satisfied with the style and frequency of our communication?
  • Do you feel like your financial goals are being addressed?
  • What is something I do that you like?
  • What could I do to better help you?

Of course, this is just a start — you can (and should) tailor the survey so that it better fits your goals as a financial professional and your relationship with your clients. How you react to constructive criticism can be just as important as the way you receive it. Michael Dinich, a financial professional, personal finance expert and founder of Wealth of Geeks, says financial professionals should resist the urge to chime in — even if the feedback is not particularly flattering.

“When a client provides feedback during a meeting or consultation, the advisor should avoid an instinct to justify their actions or explain their rationale at the moment,” Dinich says. “This can come across as defensive and interrupt the client from fully conveying their perspective.”

Instead, he recommends listening closely, taking notes, and capturing the client’s viewpoint in an accurate way, which will make it much easier to take proactive steps to address it going forward.

Acting on feedback

Amassing feedback from your clients is an empty exercise if you don’t take steps to act on it. There’s no doubt this can be a difficult process — sifting through assessments of your work is rarely fun — but taking active steps to improve will strengthen your relationships in the long run.

The first step toward acting on your reviews is organization. You should sift through everything you’ve received and categorize it so you can more effectively parse each bit. From there, you can take the right steps to improve.

“Rather than addressing feedback on a case-by-case basis, the advisor should focus on making changes at a broader level to fix core problems.”

The most important aspect of acting on client feedback is to look at the root cause of some of the most common issues. For example, if you see multiple responses that highlight issues with communication, take initiative-taking steps to improve that area of your practice — whether it’s the frequency, style, or words you use.

“After collecting feedback from multiple clients over time, common themes may emerge across the inputs,” Dinich said. “Many clients highlighting the same issues or areas for improvement indicate systemic gaps that need priority attention. Rather than addressing feedback on a case-by-case basis, the advisor should focus on making changes at a broader level to fix core problems.”

Consider this: if your clients say they’d like more virtual meetings, but you struggle to connect via video calls, you may want to look into courses or workshops that help you develop these unique skills.

Regardless of the exact nature of the evaluation, Ethan Keller, President of Dominion, highlights the importance of setting SMART goals based on what you hear. That is, making your changes specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. And remember, this is an ongoing exercise.

“Keep following up with your client and ask them to review your improvement until you reach the desired level,” Keller says.

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