Most the time, when you think of client surveys, you think: “This is going to cost me. “
It’s going to cost you to design and implement the survey. And it’s going to cost you to follow through on any client suggestions you glean from the survey. What if clients don’t like your office décor and you have to invest in a new couch, for instance?
But that’s not always the case!
In fact, I was intrigued recently when staying at a Holiday Inn Express. I happened to notice a 4”x 6”plastic sign in the bathroom that read, “Dear Guest, for your convenience, slip-resistant rubber bath mats are available at the front desk.”
Now, that may not seem like a sign worthy of making its way into a business column, but I thought it was ingenious. Instead of placing rubber mats in every single room (tens of thousands of rooms across the country) they just buy a few mats for each front desk, and I’m guessing not many guests request them.
Obviously, the sign probably has something to do with averting potential lawsuits: the company can legally claim that they made the mats available to their guests.
But what if before they made the change, they surveyed a small sample of clients and found that most of them don’t want, need or expect those ugly rubber mats in the first place?! And they just wind up needing to be cleaned (which takes time) and replaced (which takes money)! So why put them in every room?
Cost savings! (Assuming 2’x3’ rubber mats cost more than 4”x6” plastic signs.)
But here’s my more crucial point—the same is true for your business!
I interviewed an advisor in Dallas years ago who surveyed a few of his clients and found out that they really didn’t want the sophisticated financial reports he proposed providing on their investments. They wanted something much SIMPLER. He saved $20,000 by not having to purchase the costly reporting software and licenses. He actually told them what he was considering doing—and they said, “Don’t bother. We’re good! Here’s what we do want.”
How can client surveys help you save money?
- Identifying which parts of your service clients find most—and least—valuable.
- Naming staff members they can’t live without—and occasionally, which ones they wouldn’t miss.
But you shouldn’t just ask clients after you’ve made changes to your business. Host a few of them for a client roundtable (call it a client brain trust) and talk to them about changes you’re thinking of making. Maybe you’re considering a costly new service or change to your business. Like the advisor in Dallas found, he was considering providing something that clients didn’t really want.
Just imagine … maybe clients don’t value your large expensive appreciation dinners. Maybe they don’t want to meet with you quarterly, but would appreciate a short, straightforward email about their performance. Think of how much time that would save. And time is money!
Remember, a survey doesn’t have to be formal to be effective. Sometimes inviting a client out to lunch to ask for their input is just as critical as a paper or online survey.
Likewise, ask your staff members’ opinions. They likely will know ways you can save money. Ask them, “How can we save money—without sacrificing strong client service?”
You don’t have to spend the most money to get the most bang for your buck. In fact, the more you listen, and understand your clients, the less you will need to spend.
Because you’ll know what they value!