The benefits of client feedback
Susan Pettit explains why client listening is a necessity â€“ not a nicety â€“ when delivering on your strategic goals
New year, new resolutions? January is the perfect time to check in on your firm’s strategy and review where targets are being met – and missed.
As many firms start to look towards the end of the financial year, and throw their efforts into that final push for fee income and profitability, we have one business resolution that no firm should overlook: listen to your clients.
The temptation at the start of the year can be to focus efforts on traditional marketing with the goal of new client acquisition, yet client listening is a much underutilised – and powerful – tool when it comes to reducing client churn and increasing profitability.
Here are three key ways client listening can transform your approach to hitting your goals:
1. It removes the guesswork from your strategy
Writing a firm or marketing strategy is never an easy task, but writing one that will actually deliver on the promises it makes is even harder.
Unless, that is, you have taken the time to consult with those that already know the answers: your clients.
Test your assumptions, and seek feedback on your plans and goals. Is your fee growth going to come from the places you anticipate? Do your clients associate you with the practice or sector areas you are promoting? How can you take market share from the competition? What can you do to ensure you are at the top of the list when clients are ready to instruct?
When you know all of this, you can ensure that your budget and resources are aligned to the activities that will deliver the results you need.
2. Clients will be more loyal
According to Royal Mail Data Services, 20 per cent of your current clients will be going elsewhere in 2017. One-fifth of all clients switch suppliers each year, making the UK’s average churn rate very high. Can your firm afford to lose 20 per cent of its customers? Think about how much time and effort will have to go into replacing them.
How will your growth plans be affected when your starting point is 20 per cent lower than you originally thought? How can you recoup that difference? Do you know what you’re doing well that could attract clients who are being lost by other firms, or how to get your existing clients to recommend you?
By taking the time to listen to your clients, you can identify big and small issues that they may have with you before they switch their business elsewhere. You might get the opportunity to save a valued client relationship – and how much is that worth to your firm?
Client feedback strengthens relationships; people really appreciate the investment in understanding their needs. It allows you to anticipate their needs in a direct and practical way and you can improve the way you deliver your services to increase customer satisfaction.
3. Your return on investment will be higher than ever before
Client listening doesn’t have to cost tens of thousands of pounds. A single telephone interview from Client Confident is under £200 and can deliver a wealth of strategic benefits.
As well as getting the opportunity to rescue client relationships and avoid a loss of income, these interviews uncover new business opportunities as a matter of course. One former client listening project identified over £2m worth of new business development opportunities for the firm – and you don’t see return on investment like that in many other activities.
Many business consultants will encourage people to go for the ‘low hanging fruit’ when looking to grow a practice, and that usually means getting more work from existing clients. This is the ideal way to do that – while demonstrating your commitment to the client relationship.This is a time when metrics matter. Being able to quantify which clients are likely to spend more, and why, is exactly the sort of insight that every management board will want to see.
To watch January’s ‘Five minute masterclass’ (a series of short videos designed to support those looking to undertake client listening programmes), please visit www.clientconfident.co.uk/solicitorsjournal or get in touch to subscribe to our monthly masterclass programme.
Susan Pettit is director of client management at Client Confident