Question: Getting most-valued clients to respond to customer surveys

I am a client services manager in a large accounting firm. We send out quarterly surveys to our clients, and usually get high % of responses. We keep our surveys brief and non-salesy.

However, most of our larger, high value clients never respond. And when they do, we are unable to probe further because of anonymous nature of data gathering.

Is there a best-practice we are missing?

2 Expert Insights

Yep. Anonymous surveys have their place, but they have fatal flaw: there's nothing in it for the client. Personally, I never answer surveys.

If you want worthwhile feedback, ask clients how you can improve their service, and then immediately reward their feedback by doing as much of what they asked as possible.

This is a cultural shift, not just a new marketing research tactic. Stop worrying about how well you are serving your "client base," and start worrying about how you are serving EACH client, in specific terms.

I was speaking at an event on customer service and I asked how many of them conducted surveys? Most of the hands went up. I told them I had just stayed at a very nice hotel and there was a survey in my room and I read it.

The survey was a typical very dissatisfied, satisfied, very satisfied type of scoring. A question the survey asked; "Was my room clean?" I thought to myself since I expected the room to be dirty and the bed not made...why yes I was taken by total surprise. The next question "Was I greeted with a smile at the front desk when I checked in?"...I was expecting to be treated badly so this was a great pleasure. OK you can pick up my sarcasm but these questions are worthless. What will the hotel learn?  At the end of the day they will have checkmarks without any insight.

I advise my clients to get rid of these type of survey's. Replace them with the questions you really want to ask. I also advise them to call their top clients and ask them no more than 5 questions. The key is to pick up the pattern. It is like flipping a coin in the air and heads comes up 4 out of 5 times. I do not need to keep flipping the coin. I have a good idea of the outcome.

My input: call your top clients with 5 open ended questions that matter most. The next thing is to let them know what you did with the last survey you asked them to answer. I advise my clients if you are collecting information and do nothing...why continue?

All the Best,