Ten years of feedback

We’ve just updated our process for collecting client feedback (read more about this here), and it was while updating this that we realised we have been asking clients to fill in our post-sale questionnaires for ten years.

Our very first form was issued on 26th October 2009….and has not yet been returned.

Plenty of others have been returned though. We’ve examined some of this before on Linkedin.com, but the ten year anniversary, and the changing of the process, seems like an ideal opportunity to look back at what our clients have told us so far.

The numbers

  • 840 questionnaires have been issued
  • 288 have been returned
  • 34% is the average return rate over the last decade
  • 2018 was the first year we provided the option to return these via the internet and 50% of all responses are now online
  • The most responses we got in one year was 2010, with 62 forms returned (49%)
  • The least was 2018 with only 8 responses (of which half were online)

But what about the quality?

We ask the questions for a reason, and that is to make sure we are doing things right. ‘Are we doing things right’ is not actually one of the questions we ask (maybe it should it be?), instead we’ve used these eight simple yes/no questions since the beginning. This is how clients have answered.

(These percentages are based only on the feedback received.)

Q1. Were our staff courteous and efficient?

We need to know if we’re getting the very basic things right. If we’re not showing our clients common courtesy and respect how can we expect to earn their trust?

100% of clients said yes (of course!)

Q2. Did you receive our Key Facts?

The Key Facts document (now replaced) was a document we provide our clients and prospective clients so they can see at a glance how we work, charge and what they can expect from us. This question exists to make sure that we are giving our clients the important information about us right at the start.

100% of clients said yes.

Q3. Were you provided with a suitability report?

A suitability report should be a given. We put our advice in writing to make sure our client’s have a written record of what we are advising and why.

99% of clients said yes.

Three clients said no. This was a surprise! We went back and checked the three client files which said ‘no’ and found these issues:

  • One related to an ISA top-up. We would not have issued a new report for this as our original advice to take out the ISA would stand.
  • One related to the renewal of an annual medical insurance plan. No new advice was given.
  • One client was simply incorrect. We have a copy of the report on file.

Q4. Was the report easy for you to understand?

This is something we are constantly working to get right. It’s one thing to make sure every client gets their report, but making sure they understand it can be outside of our control. We’ve tried to improve readability and formatting over the years, but ultimately this is something that we need our clients to tell us.

98% of clients said yes.

That’s good but it could be better. One interesting point is that the trend is improving. In 2010, three clients said no. In 2015, only two said no, and in 2017 only one said no. We seem to be getting this right.

(One client answered this question yes and no, so they must have been confused about something.)

Q5. Did the speed of our responses meet your expectations?

This is an easy one. Are we responding in a timely manner? Are we leaving our client’s waiting? Some tasks can’t be done immediately, so are we properly managing our client’s expectations?

98% of clients said yes.

Q6. Would you recommend us to your friends?

This is one of the key questions we ask. We haven’t advertised over the last ten years, and the business has been built on the back of client referrals from day one, since we were originally the financial services department of Berns Brett Ltd (We separated to become BBi Financial Planning Ltd in 2015, but remain part of the BBi Group of families.)

99% of clients said yes!

Q7. Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve?

Yes and no questions are fine for collecting raw data but without asking for constructive comments it’s difficult to improve. For example, why could you not understand your report? Why would you/would you not recommend us?

12% of clients said yes.

However, only 17 clients who said yes actually provided comments (6%), and of these only 5 (2%) provided constructive feedback. The rest were mostly compliments on the service (always nice to hear!)

Some good points raised here included:

  • Explaining tables of figures in more detail (excellent point)
  • Greater use of the internet (this was from 2010)
  • Make advice more basic (we can only do so much)

Q8. Do you feel you received value for money?

Along with question six, this is another key question we rely on. The answer is more subjective, of course. Two clients could receive the same service for the same price and still provide different answers. We provide space for comments but not everyone provides them.

98% of clients said yes.

Six said no, but only five provided any comments. Of these, two related to speed of service, two related to cost and one was because the client was unclear on the fees.

This is an area we have improved over the years. We now provide a Services and Payment Agreement to our clients which is a stand-alone document specifying the costs and service.

The trend is good so we must be improving. We haven’t had a client say no to this question for over four years.

Observations

The most glaring thing is that clients are generally less willing to provide feedback now than they were in 2009.

This could be for several reasons, but we think it’s likely that people are simply uninterested in filling in our paper questionnaires these days.

The internet wasn’t new in 2009, but the rise of app culture and the ease of doing so many things online now means that we need to try harder to keep up.

Another thing we realised is that client’s don’t always answer every question. We had back 288 forms, but not 288 answers to every question. Some were skipped, some were marked n/a. One client referred us to his accountant.

(By the way, when calculating the scores above, we’ve only used the clear yes/no answers provided.)

Hopefully our new forms will achieve this – they are delivered by email and can be completed in thirty seconds.

Will we ever be perfect? That’s unlikely, but we would be very happy to look back on these scores again in another ten years and see similar results.

One last thing, all our approval scores in this survey were 98% or higher. Apple, maker of the iphone and Mac computers, is consistently the worlds favourite company according to Forbes.com. Their overall score? 85%. (source: http://fortune.com/worlds-most-admired-companies/apple/)

We must be doing something right.

Please tell us if that changes. You can sign up for the new form at www.bbifp.com/feedback.

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