How happy are your clients?

It is quite common for clients to leave a firm for service delivery or work quality reasons. However, many clients will not openly complain about the service they are receiving. Instead, they will start asking how much you charge for services or simply take their work elsewhere when they believe they can obtain better value for their money.

A systematic client feedback program can provide early warning signals of unhappiness among clients. Many professional services firms use client feedback surveys to obtain information from a client on the quality of services they have received. Client satisfaction surveys are a useful marketing tool when a firm is involved in a competitive proposal situation or in a presentation to a prospective client.

A well-constructed client feedback system allows a firm to obtain meaningful feedback on the quality of service provided to its clients. Properly conducted, these programs can help highlight service or work problems. If a firm acts upon the information received from the program, the result can be a win-win situation for both sides — improved service for the clients and enhanced client retention for the firm. And even when a firm does lose a client, the feedback from the former client can help uncover areas in the service approach that need to be improved.

However, even though client satisfaction surveys and programs can be useful for firms, it is far more effective to have early detection systems in place to pick up on client dissatisfaction. Accountants should not overlook client warning signals, such as asking for fee quotes, petty complaints, late bill payments, or even providing an excuse as to why they had one task carried out by another accountant.

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