Who cares what clients think?

Here’s a question for you: and this time it’s one that we don’t have the answer to.

Who really cares what clients think?

Leaders in professional services firms say, “Nothing matters more than our clients.” They aspire to be their clients’ trusted partner, advising across a broad range of issues and recouping significant fees. Strong relationships are essential if this aspiration is to be reality.

Those same leaders often think they are doing the right thing by using their marketing department or an automated survey to assess client satisfaction.  It’s a reasonable decision: it’s cheap, comprehensive, not embarrassing, and easily devolved.

But in our view they are missing a trick. There may be opportunities here, both tactical and strategic. Why not invest in your most important clients by finding out what they really think? Personal contact, carefully crafted questions and thoughtful and responsive listening yield information of a richness and quality that can bring real benefits.

Some firms like to do this themselves, and develop their senior client owners to be able to hold these conversations constructively and professionally, even when they are difficult. Others prefer to ask an objective third party to talk to clients on their behalf.

If you really care what your clients think, it’s worth taking some trouble to find out.