In this month’s guest blog. for our regular feature showcasing businesses across Devon, is Anna Lake.
How often do you ask client’s for feedback? In my experiece, many businesses don’t gather this useful information for a few reasons – 1, they don’t have processes in place to gather this and 2, they are worried that by asking for feedback they may not like what they hear – maybe they know that the service they have been providing hasn’t been the best it could be. Asking for feedback is an opportunity – both to ensure that you are meeting the client’s expectations (remember that this works both ways!) and to be able to improve any areas that are not quite 100% and it’s also a chance to have a really good catch up about where the client is and how you might be able to help them in other areas. As VAs, clients often don’t realise just how much we can help with. I hope you find Anna’s blog useful.
Client feedback in challenging times
Before the Covid-19 crisis hit, the adoption of client feedback across businesses was mixed. Some fully embraced the concept and regularly collected feedback whereas some could see the value of such a programme but hadn’t quite got around to making it happen.
There is no doubt in my mind that client feedback is still a worthwhile exercise. It is not new news that happy clients buy more and recommend you to others and a client feedback programme is a great way to identify those advocates. It also allows you to determine which clients might not be completely satisfied with your service and that’s a useful exercise too – better to identify and address issues early than lose a client altogether.
The pandemic has resulted in many businesses doing things differently and collecting feedback has also changed over the last few months. Client feedback programmes were typically retrospective, asking questions about what has gone well/not so well in engagements to date. However, now the focus needs to shift. It’s still useful to get a bit of backward-looking feedback but the majority of the research should look to the future and the benefits of doing so are as follows:
• The focus moves to the client and what you can do to support them through the coming weeks, months and beyond and positions you as a trusted adviser. Touching base with your clients to ask, ‘are we doing everything you need us to?’ demonstrates empathy and promotes loyalty and trust
• Asking clients what information will be most useful to them is a great way to help with your content planning and ensure your marketing efforts are focussed and more likely to gain traction
• You can more effectively plan your resources and think about how you might need to adjust your own business model – matching your team’s expertise to the needs of your clients and ensuring you have the required technology in place to deliver remotely
• While other marketing activities might be on hold, client feedback can be carried out remotely and by utilising platforms such as Zoom, you can (with your client’s permission of course!), create snippets from the interview for internal and other marketing purposes
Covid-19 has made many businesses re-evaluate their outgoings and are looking at how their suppliers are communicating with them and supporting them through the crisis. Client feedback need not be an onerous process, but you do need to be checking in with your clients, to those who don’t, the silence will be deafening.
Anna Lake is a freelance marketer based in Tavistock, Devon. She works with B2B companies to design and implement client feedback programmes and client service strategies which help businesses move to a focus on client retention. This approach saves businesses money on new client acquisition as they increase revenue from existing targets and identify advocates who recommend the business to others.
Anna also acts as an outsourced Director of Marketing for businesses who do not want to take on the financial obligation of appointing someone permanently. She sets a marketing strategy base on the businesses overall objectives and works either with in-house teams or other freelancers to implement.
Anna’s background is in professional services where she spend over 12 years working in house for Deloitte and then BDO. At BDO she was responsible for the firm’s ‘Exceptional client service’ agenda and she undertook a secondment to India helped the new BDO firm in India understand the global vision for client service. Anna has also worked in the civil service at regional and central government levels.
You can find out more about Anna via her website www.annalakeconsulting.com