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Business Development

Why You Should Survey Your Clients

Understanding your clients’ views of your firm can help you build a more successful firm, but where do you start? Learn how to build a great customer survey:

Do your clients like you? Do they think your firm provides good service? Do they trust the work you do to be accurate? Do you provide timely service? Do they perceive your services as a good value? Are you at risk of losing them to a competitor?

If you aren’t asking your clients these questions (and several more), then how do you know where your firm is excelling with clients, and just as importantly, where you need to improve your service to them?

Understanding your clients’ views of your firm can help you build a more successful firm, but where do you start? There are several ways to build a survey, and they can be long and detailed or, preferably, shorter and to the point.

Quantifiable Score Surveys

The shortest type of survey is often known as the Net Promoter Score, which asks only one question: On a scale of 1-10, how likely is the client to recommend your firm to a colleague or friend? With only one question, it is the most likely to get responses. With numeric values, it is also possible to get an average quantifiable score. These are best for measuring overall client satisfaction.

Similar to the Net Promoter Score is the Customer Satisfaction Score, which asks clients how pleased they were with a specific service or experience with the firm. “How satisfied were you with the tax preparation process this year?” These are generally scored from 1-5, thus also providing a quantifiable score. These can provide a better measure on the quality of your firm’s customer service.

Sometimes visual ratings can also be used, such as smiley faces, stars, or thumbs up or down. Although visual, these are generally directly translatable into a quantifiable score: If the range is 1-5 stars, that’s easy. But numeric values can also be assigned to smile faces or thumb directions.

Qualitative Questions

While the above quantitative surveys can give a number value to your firm’s reputation or client service, they are limited in providing more depth. A qualitative component to your surveys can tell you “why” someone feels a certain way, with more detail on their experience.

Adding more subjective, open-ended questions may result in less completion rates of the surveys, but can provide a better understanding of your clients. For instance, asking them what they liked best or least about certain processes or engagements. What could your firm do better? Would you like us to prepare your taxes again next year? Why did you choose our firm?  Are there additional services we can provide you? Would you like more information on _____?

Building Your Surveys

Most business email management systems that are used for newsletter development also include options for adding polls. Simple plug-ins can also be added to your firm’s website. Or firms can add a survey question or two to their electronic invoices. Collecting the data digitally makes it much quicker to analyze, as well as more convenient for the clients.

Social Media Polls

Firms may also use online polls through social media, which can be much simpler and free, with the added benefit of generating some new leads. Other benefits include audience reach, additional analysis tools, and increased engagement. Check out this article with tips on social media polls from CPA Practice Advisor’s marketing guru.

Other Benefits of Surveys

In addition to gaining feedback on your clients’ perception of your firm, the surveys can give the clients a way to feel engaged, that their opinions are welcomed, and you will address them, all of which can increase loyalty.

Polling Your Staff About Your Clients

When developing questions to ask your clients about your firm, it may also be a good time to have your staff assess the quality of clients. Applying the same quantifiable questions, you could have your staff assign scores of 1-10 for each client they work with, as far as whether they would recommend that client. Or, how satisfied staff were when working with client ABC on a specific engagement, such as their latest tax compliance work. Or specifically, how timely was the client with providing source documents, etc.

Finally, add in some of the qualitative: What could client XYZ do better to make our engagements and our service to them better? Which contact at the client is the easiest to work with? Are there additional services they need, but don’t know they need? What could they do to be a better client?

The Rewards

Asking your clients (and your staff) for feedback can be occasionally painful, but overall is one of the most rewarding ways to assess your firm’s service, professionalism and reputation. They will feel respected, especially if you make genuine efforts to address their concerns.

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