Often for managers of client feedback initiatives, gathering client feedback is the start of the client insight journey. It's all well and good receiving lots of feedback, but if you don't have the ear of your firm's leadership team, it is likely that little will be accomplished off the back of the feedback collected. When this occurs, client-facing teams who understand the importance of such information in their day-to-day jobs can feel frustrated and clients may begin to feel apathetic as they realise that their thoughts have not been actioned by their advisors.
So, how can you get client feedback onto the agenda of your leadership team? We invited Maggie Watkins, Senior Client Services Director at Womble Bond Dickinson, to lead a virtual discussion on how client insight can be used to inform and work with leaders. Here, we present her insightful thoughts on the matter.
Sharing the feedback with the firm’s leadership team
When setting up a client feedback programme, an important thing to consider is how you will share the insights across your firm and with your leadership team. To do this effectively, you need to work out who in the leadership team already supports the feedback programme and who can be persuaded to back the programme once they have seen some of the feedback for themselves. Once you have identified the individuals who are either in support of or can be persuaded to support the programme, you can then build trust between those leading the programme and those wanting the results (often the leadership team). In showcasing the insights your programme is providing, that cannot be found elsewhere within your firm, you are highlighting the return on investment (ROI) the programme is bringing to your business. Therefore, gaining the support of leadership, helps the programme not only find its feet within the firm but also gives it the greatest possible chance of scaling up in the future when internal demand increases.
Including leadership in the client feedback process
Once you have decided how and when to share some of the relevant feedback and who is already in support of the programme, it is time to try and get more internal buy-in, so that it has the best possible chance of success. One way of achieving this is to get the Chairman and partners to attend some of the high profile client feedback interviews. Be selective in the interviews you choose for leadership to join you on. It important for the chairman and partners to engage in a positive part of the feedback process. Choosing client interviews from some of your high profile clients, such as your top 50, will highlight the insightful and in-depth feedback that can be gained by listening to clients through a more structured feedback process. This will assist you in gathering further support for your programme from partners and members of leadership across the firm.
Finding ways to get it on the leadership's agenda
Another way of raising the profile of your client feedback programme to your leadership team is by showcasing some of the feedback received at partner/attorney retreats. Retreats are an ideal time to highlight some of the positive feedback that has been received, attributing names to the successes and thereby gathering more supporters for the wider programme. As with all types of feedback, inevitably there will be some negative feedback that arises. Whilst it is important to share this so that improvements are made, ensuring that it is shared sensitively, excluding the name of the person/people it involves, (unless consent has been given in advance), is crucial to maintain support across the firm.
Creating a better understanding of the process
By showcasing how the client insight will be actioned by the firm, both in, improvements to service delivery and in larger strategic planning, will also enhance the amount of leadership buy-in your programme will receive. Most leadership teams want to see an ROI on any internal projects carried out. Discussing likely ROI during the planning stages of the programme is a crucial step to take before your feedback starts. Whether you aim to improve your service delivery, expand into new practice areas or strengthen your brand positioning; aligning the aim of your programme to your firms business objectives will help your programme receive the support it needs from across the firm.
COVID-19 and the struggle to keep in touch
We are all going through a challenging time whilst we battle with the global pandemic, including our clients. So, now is an opportune time to find out what your clients need. If you, like many other client-facing teams, have found that your clients are more readily available to talk, then it is a great time to be collecting feedback from them. Clients are likely to be willing to open up and share their thoughts, so including some questions within your feedback questionnaire to address the impact of COVID-19 would also be a wise thing to do. In doing this, you will help your firm stay ahead and be ready to assist your clients with the services they need when we all resurface from the pandemic.
It goes without saying, the more allies that you can muster as your programme progresses, the easier it will be to facilitate programme administration and deliver the programme benefits. It’s all about having a passion for success across your firm’s team.
It is important at the outset of any client feedback programme to get allies that are passionate and sales people, so that you can use these supporters within your firm to push client feedback onto the leadership's agenda. Be understanding that not every senior partner will be an ally for the programme, instead look at creating a strong supportive relationship with a handful of partners and members of the leadership team that will assist you in keeping the programme on track and spreading its successes to the wider firm. Keeping these supporters within earshot of the results of your programme throughout its duration will ensure the programme's longevity and in all likelihood its success.
Continue the discussion
Acuigen offers client feedback services assisting you with many of your client feedback needs, from planning your initial programme to providing face-to-face interviewing support and a cloud-based platform to collate all the information provided. Get in touch to find out how you can unleash your client insights.