If you had a crystal ball, what would you want to know about your accounting business?
Would you want to know what the future has in store? Would you be interested in knowing what new technologies are really worth your time and which ones you should ignore? Or would you just like to know what you should do today to have the happiest, most satisfied clients?
If it’s the latter, then you don’t need magical intervention.
While you might not have a crystal ball to tell you if your clients are happy, you do have the power of asking them.
This is where client satisfaction surveys can help you collect relevant information in a useful way that you can use to improve your accounting firm.
But it can be difficult to articulate the information you’d like to extract from them. You might want them to answer ‘how can we serve you better?’ but asking such a broad question might simply raise more questions than answers.
That’s why it’s important to know the right questions to ask in a client satisfaction survey.
The best client satisfaction surveys are the ones that are mutually beneficial for you and your clients. They should:
Provide strong, relevant and useful data for you
Be short, simple and easy to complete for your clients
Here are the five boxes to tick to achieve just that.
As a business leader, you know the value of honesty between you, your team, and your clients. And it’s important that you continue prioritizing honesty when conducting client satisfaction surveys.
Explain to your clients why you’re asking for their feedback, and how doing so will improve their experience with your firm and, ultimately, benefit their business and/ or financial situation.
This way, you’ll get better buy-in from them, including more in-depth and useful responses.
This might seem obvious, but it can be easy to get carried away with asking clients everything you could possibly want to know.
Yes, it’s important to make the most of their attention while you have it. But what’s the value of an incomplete survey that clients find too long, and therefore don’t end up completing?
Keep your client satisfaction surveys simple. Your questions should be short and to-the-point.
Don’t ask questions because you can—ask the questions you need answers to.
If you don’t, you:
Ask questions that don’t actually provide value to your accounting firm
Ask questions that aren’t relevant to the majority of your clients
Ask the hard-hitting questions
Don’t get caught up in surveying your clients about their opinion of your new homepage. This won’t add direct value to your firm.
Sure, it’s nice to know if your clients like your new fonts, but their opinion of fonts won’t grow revenue.
Don’t alienate your clients with questions that are too specific
If you offer services that only a specific portion of your clients use, consider creating a specific satisfaction survey to suit them.
For example, let’s say you offer business advisory as a service to around 20% of your client base. If you include several questions about how your clients are finding this service, you’re alienating the other 80% of your clients.
Take the time to create different surveys to suit the major sections of your client base. This will go a long way in removing the burden that’s often so-closely associated with completing satisfaction surveys.
Don’t spend too much time trying to create your actual survey—leverage already-existing tools so you can easily send out your survey and manage your responses.
Your time should be spent finding the questions you need answers to so you can better-serve your clients and grow your accounting business.
Before sending anything out, take the time to think about what you want answers to. Do you want to understand overall satisfaction? Or do you want to get a clearer picture of how your clients find your firm’s communication methods? Or how happy they are with your turnaround times?
Take the time to articulate the biggest unknowns about the client experience at your firm, and why you need an answer for each unknown. Then ask your clients to fill in the gaps.
For example, let’s say that you’re unclear if your client onboarding is as streamlined for your clients as it is for your team.
Unknown: If the client onboarding experience is a streamlined and user-friendly experience.
Why you want to know: To increase initial client satisfaction (and all-important first impressions) and increase efficiency.
If you don’t have a clear picture of the questions you need answers to, you’re wasting:
An opportunity to gather valuable information from your clients
Your clients’ time
These questions are broadly focused on client satisfaction, i.e. how happy they are with your firm and the service they received.
Example: “How satisfied are you with your recent income tax return experience?”
When to ask: Directly following a piece of work, like a tax return.
These questions gauge if your clients are satisfied enough to refer your services. 72% of customers say they share good experiences with others, so you want to give them reason to do the same about your firm.
On the other hand, if they’re not satisfied, they’re likely to actively discourage people from engaging with your firm.
A simple way to gauge how satisfied your clients are is by asking if they’d refer you to their loved ones.
This is referred to as your firm’s Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS uses client satisfaction (specifically measuring your clients’ experience with your firm, and the likelihood of recommending you to others) to predict your potential for growth. Businesses with a high NPS (generally 40+) are viewed as having high growth potential.
Example: “On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to refer our accounting firm to a family member or friend?”
When to ask: At the end of a project or deliverable, or at a time interval (quarterly, bi-annually, annually, etc.).
Recommended reading: Measuring your firm’s client satisfaction using NPS.
These questions refer specifically to the services you offer your clients and are designed to gauge how well (or not) you’re delivering these services.
Example: “How satisfied were you with your recent quarterly cash flow advisory meeting?”
When to ask: End of a project or deliverable, or periodically based on frequency of work.
Collecting demographic information in your surveys will help you to aggregate and bundle your responses into client groups to help you analyse your data.
You might, for example, discover that your clients between the ages of 20 and 50 are happy with your communication levels, but your clients over the age of 50 are not.
This is a great opportunity to take a deep-dive into your firm's communication strategy and discover why this might be the case.
Example: “Please select your age group from the range”, “Please enter your ZIP code”
When to ask: With each major survey you send out.
Sure, you can try to guess what your clients do and don’t love about their experience with your accounting firm. But not only are you making assumptions, you’re also not in the best position to answer these questions.
Your clients are. So ask them.