The client's perception is your reality. Think of a service experience you were impressed with recently. It may have been in a restaurant, shop or in your business. Think about what 'it' was that impressed you. What was 'it' that will make you stay and/or come back as a client? They probably completed some form of feedback to capture your experience

How do I create a formal feedback process and why?

According to The FPA Financial Planning Association in the United States (Source USA FPA Research and Practice Institute study - Future of Practice Management -December 2013 ) 85% of advisors do not have a formal feedback process. Similar research by Business Health Australia (Source Business Health Pty Ltd. 2013 US Advisors Key Value Drivers USA* 85% of advisors do not have a formal feedback process. Are you kidding me? This leads me to two questions, why and why not?
The reason why not is because, up until now it has not been an important process for advisors. The top 15% who do feedback typically earn more than $200,000 more ( up to 52% more) than advisors who do not have a formal feedback process. So why not have one?

We know the research from Business health states that the number one thing clients said that advisors can improve on is their review process. So how do you improve your client review process, ? How do you find the answers you are looking for to improve? Luckily, the people that keep you in business can also help you improve it. By undertaking feedback, your clients will give you an accurate appraisal on how your practice is performing.

As your greatest assets and most important critics, your clients will ultimately determine your success or failure. They see and interact with your business from a different perspective, and can be aware of problems you don't perceive. Unhappy clients can suffer in silence, eventually finding other alternatives or responding to competitor approaches, rather than voicing dissatisfaction.

How do clients react?

In our experience, clients respond positively at the opportunity to participate in feedback designed to improve service. Financial advisors will be able to measure changes in client service. Feedback from clients will tell financial advisors what their existing clients need, and what they need to promote to attract new clients.
Try asking your ideal client this question at your next meeting.” I need your help in developing my business? Can you help me out? “ What will the answer be? You have helped them and their family become financially secure with your comprehensive planning, and are extremely grateful of your services that they are willing to help you out. Now that you know my secret to how I grew my business, you could shut your computer or smartphone down and never return and become the success that you desire through ideal client feedback.

This is not a survey

Surveys can come in many forms and with online software programs that can help you (check with compliance because of confidentiality and privacy rules first) While surveys sent back to you for feedback are helpful, anonymous surveys (surveys sent to a third party for data collection and confidentiality) allow your clients to be totally honest as their comments will not reflect back on them jeopardizing your relationship. What questions do you ask? What feedback are you looking for? How do you want to deliver the surveys, email, phone, mail or other?

Creating a formal feedback process with 4 questions in person

Here is a simple process that will help you collect feedback. At the end of a review meeting ( I like to call them progress updates instead of reviews) with these clients, ask them a question to get started. “I am building an updated unique value promise and could use your help. Can I take five minutes to ask you four questions?

1. “What are the 3 things that you value the most about our services? (Ask both husband and wife and write them down as women and men vary in what they truly value) Note this is a double conundrum question. Conundrum number one, your client’s may not know how to answer this because they have never looked at your business that way, and conundrum number two is men and women will usually answer it completely differently.

2. How important are these 3 things to your family's financial future? Are they important, very important or critically important? Is there anything else that is critically important? (this question may open up other discussions about planning or critical issues in their lives such as troubled children’ health problems or other concerns in their subconscious)

3. What is it worth to you? (Usually they ask what do you mean, say the EXACT same question again, What is it worth to you?) You will be very surprised by the answers you get here. I will hold you in suspense, because it is worth waiting for.

4. In our progress meetings, what is one thing that we can improve on to make our time more valuable and a better experience?
What you are asking is, how can we improve our progress meetings, since practice management research has told us that clients typically do not see a lot of value in reviews for the fees they pay. Is it 50 minutes relationship and 10 minutes of planning? How can we get better? There will be small items, but there will also be big issues that will help you propel your business more than anything else. Doing this feedback exercise with hundreds of advisors has helped practices more than any other idea, because it is from a client’s perspective.

Now you have implemented the feedback process into your business. You have received feedback from 10 of your top clients and possibly additional prospects) and they have given you their level of confidence in the value you deliver. The bad news is it may not be 100% but that is the good news, they have told you where your potential blind spots are and given you valuable feedback to improve your business. Now is a good time to write out 10 names and start building your world class practice and build your unique value promise through feedback.

The outcome

You will identify issues and perhaps trends that you would not necessarily see yourself....a fresh set of eyes". You will learn a great deal, and a number of very important issues that are raised by your clients. Best of all, you'll have a client's-eye-view of your company's strengths and weaknesses, and you'll know how to successfully respond.

Get started!

Start by practicing the feedback questions for your business.

Grant Hicks, CIM, is President of Advisor Practice Management and co-author of “Guerrilla Marketing For Financial Advisors” 1st and 2nd edition. for speaking, workshops or coaching, contact Grant at

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