In part seven of his series on profitable practice management, Steve Billingham looks at how to establish what clients need, want and value.
Understanding what it is that clients truly value about your service is the cornerstone to your ability to develop a compelling proposition that you can charge a premium price for. It is also the starting point for creating key messages and copy for your website and marketing materials.
So, what do your clients want from you? The feedback from consumer research carried out some time ago by the Financial Services Authority, as part of its study into treating customers fairly, showed that consumers want the following:
• Clarity of offer
• Delivery of promises
• Someone who can fix things that go wrong
• Not to be taken advantage of
Fourteen questions to ask clients
Hardly unreasonable is it? Meanwhile, according to the Capgemini/Merrill Lynch World Wealth Report, high and ultra high net worth clients are looking for the following:
• More specialised advice
• Solutions they can understand
• Improved client reporting
• More frequent communication
Clients are clearly looking for a more integrated approach to meeting their needs, built around specialised, impartial, transparent, simple advice.
But there really is only one way to establish what your clients want. It might seem a bit radical but here it is… ask them.
You could do this formally, via a client survey, or informally, at the end of a review meeting, for example. You could run a focus group (preferably facilitated by someone independent of the business) or even conduct telephone interviews with selected clients.
Consider asking your clients these questions (see below) in order to find out what they think about you and the service you deliver, as well as what they really value about working with you.
I would suggest it is best to get someone external to the business to do this, as clients will be more open, honest and direct with an independent third party.
We have done this for a number of clients with surprising results. Very often, what you think clients value is very different to what they say they value. Doing this will also get you great copy for client testimonials.
Questions to ask clients
1 What was it that made you engage with our services in the first place?
2 Why do you stay with us?
3 What is one thing we do better than other firms like us?
4 What do we do that others do not?
5 What do you really like about the way we do business?
6 If we are going to grow the business, which aspects must we keep and which should we lose?
7 What is one thing you think we could do better?
8 What drives you made about the way we do business?
9 What services would you value that we do not currently provide?
10 If you ran the business, what five changes would you make and why?
11 Do you refer us (and why or why not)?
12 If you do, what do you say?
13 Who do you see as our main competitors and how are they better or worse than us?
14 What phrase would you use to search for our service if you were not working with us?
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