Boost client retention via Client Satisfaction surveys

Written by: Karl Sakas

An agency owner reached out asking for my advice implementing ongoing Client Satisfaction surveys at her agency, since she noticed I send them out to my coaching and consulting clients.

Here’s what I shared—including how you can apply client satisfaction surveys at your agency. [Last updated: March 2023]

5 questions to ask

There are the five simple—yet powerful—questions in my client satisfaction survey. The key is to keep this survey short, so your clients don’t need to take too much time filling it out and to avoid it feeling like “homework.”

  1. What’s your name and company name?
  2. How likely is it that you would recommend me (as an agency consultant/coach) to a friend or colleague? [Note: Scale of 0-10]
  3. Why did you choose that number?
  4. What results have you seen since hiring me?
  5. Do you have any other comments, questions, or concerns?

Best practices for sending client satisfaction surveys

I recommend agencies send these questions out on a quarterly or semi-annual basis (that is, 2-4 times a year) so you can track performance and satisfaction over time. The key is the “on a scale of zero to 10” Net Promoter Score (NPS) question, because it quantifies the results (in aggregate and per-client).

I used to send mine manually, but now semi-automate the process (via my team and our marketing automation system). We also send direct manual followups to people who don’t respond the first time (or second).

After a couple years, I switched mine from quarterly to annual—because as a consultant and coach, I’m directly interacting with clients already. In contrast, agencies’ clients tend to be somewhat more removed from the owner of the agency (versus me as the owner/deliverer) and in my experience agencies that do them quarterly have the most success.

It’s worth sending client satisfaction surveys to all of the clients your agency worked with in a given quarter, except for those who are brand new—I don’t send them to new clients, such as people who have been clients less than a month.

For newer milestone-based projects, I suggest you do phone-based outreach to get a client’s pulse. The idea there is that when someone is new, you need more nuance than a survey conveys. After a few months, surveys are fine.

That said, surveys help flag problems for phone outreach—for instance, if someone’s score drops significantly since the previous quarter, it’s probably worth it to find out why. Otherwise, it may be a sign they won’t be a client much longer.

Boosting client satisfaction

In addition to doing a good job with Warmth & Competence, you can also do nice things for clients to boost their satisfaction levels (send gifts, take them to lunch, and similar efforts). I recommend doing these based on how much you like your clients, their current value, their future value, and their referral potential.

Keep an eye out for good opportunities to show your clients you care. If you see something you know they would appreciate—such as a limited edition coffee from a client’s favorite coffee roaster—consider sending it to them as a surprise. Since at most agencies, as the owner you may not be in touch with all of your clients frequently enough to get to know this kind of information, consider empowering your team to do spend a small amount of money on client gifts.

Or, at a minimum, to flag ideas for you as they talk to their contacts at each client.

Of course, there’s no set formula for how often to do something nice for your clients; it’s a combination of things that should be evaluated on a client-by-client basis. It shouldn’t feel—or be—a formula.

But these extra touches can go a long way to boosting both client satisfaction and retention at your agency.

Question: How do you use Client Satisfaction surveys to improve your agency?

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