You’re looking for a way to better your business, and improve your relationship with your existing clients. If you want a tried and true way to improve client engagement? Let the clients be your guide.
Successful startups use customer data and feedback to shape their products, brand, and customer experience. They constantly iterate based on what their customers need.
Figure out what clients care about. What frustrates them. What challenges them. This will be the start of your newfound successes in client engagement.
An example: In 2008, Sunil Rajarman co-founded the screenwriting software company Scripped. The idea was to provide free software to screenwriters and then sell their scripts to producers. By 2010, Sunil ﬁnally realized that his business model was at odds with what writers really wanted: paid gigs. He learned this by talking to customers about their challenges and observing their behavior. With his customers’ needs in mind, Rajarman re-launched his startup as Scripped, an online marketplace that allows businesses to hire freelance writers for blogs, articles and social media posts.
The key for Rajarman was to uncover the motivations and behavior of his customers and use those insights to improve the product. When it comes to customer feedback, it’s not about asking customers what they want—it’s about asking speciﬁc questions and observing behaviors that will help you uncover their pain points. Once you know more about your customers’ challenges and experiences, you can then use this information to identify the right solutions and unroll them to your community. This in turn leads to happier customers who stay longer, refer more, and feel personally invested in the success of your business. Customers with awesome LTVs.
For ﬁnancial advisors, soliciting feedback is a key to avoiding turnover. By asking clients about their challenges, you can increase the impact of your engagement and improve your services and operations.
For example, if clients tell you they have a poor understanding of their complete ﬁnancial picture, you can work to solve that problem. [Unapologetic plug: It may be account aggregation and easy-to-read performance reports, all automated by Blueleaf. Learn about it here: http://hub.am/1nZw2tV] When you make the helpful changes, explain them in the context of their challenges: “You told me X was a challenge, so we’re trying out Y to help solve that problem.”
Start gathering feedback:
- Just like Rajarman did for Scripped, avoid asking clients what they want. “What do you want from us?” isn’t going to yield helpful insights. Here’s a better approach: “When it comes to [insert topic, like ﬁnancial life or planning for retirement], what are the things you ﬁnd most [insert adjective, like challenging, time-consuming or rewarding]?” Questions like that will help you get at the underlying problems that clients need your help to solve.
- SurveyMonkey is an easy-to-use tool that lets you create and send survey questions.
- Google Forms lets you build custom forms. Results are compiled into a separate document in your Google Drive.
- Sometimes a personal one-on-one conversation is the best way to collect meaningful client feedback, especially if your focus is on qualitative information
- Monitoring the results of your blog posts and newsletters is a great way to discover insights about your clients. While it’s not direct feedback, knowing which posts got the most clicks and highest engagement levels gives you a better sense of the challenges your clients face and the issues they care about.
If you have an upcoming meeting with a client, use that as an opportunity to gather feedback and ﬁgure out the issues that matter to them. In the past we’ve suggested creating a meeting agenda ahead of time, and then sharing that agenda using a document-sharing platform (you can do this easily through Blueleaf’s client portal). Ask clients to review the agenda and then add in the topics, questions, and concerns they’d like to cover at the meeting. It’s a great way to get feedback on what issues are top-of-mind for your clients.
However you choose to gather feedback, know that doing so leads to happier clients who you can better service, and, in effect, stay with you for the long haul.
This post is an excerpt from our e-book, How to Grow Like Today’s Hot Startups. Access it here.