Survey Says…

A few years ago, I had my car serviced at the local car dealership. As I was checking out, the service agent said I might be receiving a survey in the mail from the manufacturer.

He told me that the dealership receives financial incentives based on those surveys and that anything less than a 9 or 10 means that they failed. So naturally, he strongly encouraged me to give them all 9s or 10s.

I wondered, “Why are you even asking the question if you don’t want an honest answer?”

Are you considering a survey for your clients? If so, here are some suggestions based on my review of some recent surveys that advisors were preparing to send to their clients.

Have a very clear purpose for your survey and ask questions that will directly address a concern that you have.  Surveys for surveys’ sake are of minimal value at best and an annoyance at worst. Perhaps you are considering adding or improving a process or service.  You could ask questions to determine the interest level.

However, don’t ask questions when you already know the answer.  For example, you shouldn’t need to ask clients about the importance of “feeling financially secure” or “being greeted in a friendly manner.”

Similarly, your client is likely to wonder why you are asking questions about their net worth, age or employment status as they would assume you know the answers to those questions.  If you are asking those questions so you can analyze different client groups, then explain that in the survey or create separate surveys for each group.

Additionally, don’t use the survey to review or learn about client needs and expectations on important planning topics (e.g., “Are you interested in learning more about improving tax efficiency through charitable giving?”). Use your progress review meeting to ask those questions directly. Personal questions deserve a personal conversation, not an impersonal form.

Keep it short and to the point! One advisor was considering a survey that had nearly 70 different questions.  Show your clients that you respect and value their time.

Add some personal touches and make it fun to fill out! Add an unusual question or two like, “What’s your favorite holiday?” or “Beach vacation or mountain vacation?”

Remember, your clients are doing you a favor by completing your survey – the easier you can make it, the better!

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