Most clients— about 70% — say being asked for feedback is important to them, says Julie Littlechild, founder of If Not Now Research in Toronto. More significantly, engaged clients show greater satisfaction and loyalty toward their financial advisors. And they generate more profit, because they drive more referrals.

A client-engagement survey is one way to increaseclient engagement and to uncover what’s most important to clients. A good survey can reveal your clients’ needs, their wants and their expectations. “There is even some indication that when we do things that drive deeper engagement,” Littlechild says, “we increase trust overall for the industry.”

Here are five tips on creating and getting the most from a client-engagement survey:

> Evaluate your relationship
It is important that you understand your clients’ satisfaction levels on specific aspects of your relationship, Littlechild says. For example, ask how pleased they are with the frequency of contact and the scope of their financial plan.

You should also keep tabs on your relationships by asking your clients what type of communication they value, and if they’re comfortable working with any of your team members.

> Ask actionable questions
Make sure that the questions you ask are those whose answers can generation positive action. And be sure that you actually have some control over the response, Littlechild says.

For example, if you are going to ask clients whether they are satisfied with the frequency of contact, be prepared to make changes to your contact schedule if the answer is “no.”

When preparing questions, first ask yourself what you’re going to do with the results. If you can’t think of an answer, then you will likely need to reconsider it.

For example, if you have no control over client statements, there isn’t any point asking clients how they would change their statements.

Another common mistake is inadvertently combining two questions. For example, asking clients to agree or disagree on whether the advisor is efficient and knowledgeable. Those are two different questions, so the results would be difficult to interpret.

> Identify future opportunities
Client-engagement surveys are also a great way to gauge opportunities to increase the amount of business you do with your clients. Those opportunities might include providing additional services to individual clients, such as insurance and financial planning. You can offer to refer clients to other professionals if they are interested in services you don’t provide.

> Follow up
Client-engagement surveys are a good conversation starter, but the only way to really capitalize on feedback is by addressing the issues raised.

Says Littlechild: “Eighty per-cent of the value [of a client engagement survey] is what you do with the results. Think of the survey as a prelude to a deeper conversation.”

The next time a client comes in for a review meeting, pick two or three questions from the survey to explore in-depth. Littlechild also recommends segmenting surveys for top clients, so you’ll understand the unique needs of those clients.

> Make it easy on your clients
Keep the survey short, Littlechild says. You shouldn’t take any more than 10 to 15 minutes of your clients’ time.

Including an incentive, such as a charitable donation, a gift, or a draw for prizes may increase participation.