How Regular ‘Conversations’ With Clients Can Build Stronger Relationships

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Survey Monkey is fast approaching its 20 year anniversary, which makes me feel old, if nothing else! Interestingly, when the company was created, client surveys were all the rage. A few years’ later, Fred Reichheld released his groundbreaking work on Net Promoter Score (NPS) in his book, The Ultimate Question. But how quickly things change. Who has the time to complete a lengthy survey nowadays?

The emerging trend is to leverage technology to engage in virtual ‘conversations’ with clients - short, sharp questionnaires that can be completed in less than five minutes, every three to six months, with the aim of gathering feedback from clients that can be used to make improvements to the way in which you interact with them.

Think of it this way; to what extent do you understand how your clients feel about the relationship they have with your firm? That’s one important piece. But there’s another too - to what extent do your clients understand your firm and how you can help them?

Here’s an example. Following a planning session that we ran with an accounting firm, two important projects emerged:

  1. Improve client communication, taking into consideration client feedback on the subject
  2. Design new products based on clients’ goals.
team meetings

The firm had no process for gathering feedback from clients and was considering a lengthy client survey. Following some research, they decided to vary their approach to embrace the ‘conversation’ idea. With that in mind, they deployed short questionnaires over a 12 month period with the following areas of focus:

  1. Communication (seeking input on spoken, written and digital communications as they related to specific client interactions, but also general information about the firm and its products and services)
  2. Delivery (seeking input on sales process, pricing and fees and the actual delivery of projects for clients)
  3. Team (seeking input on proactivity, responsiveness, collaboration and interaction with the firm’s team members)
  4. Understanding (seeking input on what was important to clients over the next 12 months in their businesses).
management meetings

We worked with the firm to craft just ten well-written questions for each template, deployed the questionnaires and collated the responses. Then, importantly, we agreed upon a project plan following each ‘conversation’ - two or three quick things that could be implemented to show clients that the firm was listening to their feedback.

It’s a fascinating process. Learning from this project, we have been able to leverage technology to bring together templates that are simple to deploy, a mechanism to aggregate data (and also enable you to drill into individual client responses) and, importantly, create a prioritized project plan that you can implement with reference to a rich content library.

Could you use a similar approach in your business? If you’d like to try it out, take a look at our ClientBuilder solution and consider taking a free trial.


About the Author

Colin Dunn

Director & Co-founder at PANALITIX

Colin is a Chartered Accountant who, having spent almost 10 years with one of the fastest growing and most innovative firms in the UK, has since invested over 20 years helping business owners to improve their businesses with a focus on attracting new clients, better managing existing clients, developing new products, building an engaged team and strengthening internal business processes.

Colin's primary focus at PANALITIX is on product development and business improvement content. He is the author of the bestselling book “Accountants: The Natural Trusted Advisors".

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