Getting feedback from clients can help you improve your service, take action to meet client expectations and identify clients who might be at risk of jumping ship.

“Clients are in the best position to tell you what they like or dislike about the way you run your practice,” says Nadia David, communications consultant with Premier Consulting Partners in Mississauga, Ont. “Each client has his or her own perspective based on their unique experience. They can offer you invaluable insights into how you can meet their expectations or improve your practice.”

Feedback can also tell you what you are doing well, so you can continue doing those things, says Raymond Yates, financial advisor and senior partner with Save Right Financial Inc. in Mississauga. You can find out where there is scope for improvement and whether you should introduce new products.

There are several ways to poll your clients for their opinions on your service, each with its own advantages and limitations. Here are five popular methods:

1. Use formal surveys
One of the simplest methods of gaining client feedback is by conducting a formal survey. Just be sure to keep it short.

Surveys should be as short as possible because clients may never complete a long survey, David says.

You can use online survey tools — which are linked to your website or social-media platform — to generate instant results. David suggests outsourcing your formal survey to a third party. “Some clients might be more open in expressing their opinions to a third party,” she says, “than they would directly to you.”

2. Call clients directly
You — or your assistant or other staff — can call individual clients directly to get their views or opinions on a specific subject.

For example, Yates says, you can ask clients, “What can I do better to improve my service?” or “What do you like about our new website?”

Such open-ended questions can provide you with a broad set of opinions that you might not be able to get from a formal survey, David says. Another advantage of direct calls, according Yates, is that clients usually appreciate your calling to ask for their opinions.

3. Ask for feedback during client reviews
Take advantage of periodic client meetings to solicit opinions. David recommends asking for feedback as a regular part of your meeting agenda.

Says Yates: “Clients are likely to tell you more during a face-to-face meeting. You can also determine whether they are happy or unhappy and take steps to address any unfulfilled expectations.”

4. Issue an open invitation
Welcome feedback at any time through your website or through communication such as your newsletter.

“This broad strategy can provide views and opinions on a variety of subjects,” David says, as you are not asking any specific questions.

Open requests for feedback do not generate a lot of response, she adds, but the responses that are generated are typically quite valuable because clients have taken the time to tell you something you did not ask them about.

5. Take action on feedback
Share with your clients the results of the feedback you have requested and what steps you are taking to address any concerns or need for improvement they have identified.

Responding to feedback “shows that you are listening and that you care,” Yates says, which helps enhance your relationship with your clients.