March 7, 2018
For the past couple of weeks we’ve been talking about retaining clients. Before I share the next secret with you, let me give you some good news:
70% of clients continue working with coaches after the completion of their initial goals/timeframe.
That’s great news!
But I can’t help but wonder how many of that 30% could have been retained – even on a part-time basis – if there had been real intention in place to keep them.
When a coach came to me after losing 4 clients in a single month I could understand her disappointment. What I couldn’t understand is that each of those clients completely caught her off guard when they terminated the relationship.
That’s a big red flag to me.
It’s really difficult to help anyone fix something if you don’t know where the problem lies. So I didn’t start by assuming we needed to fix something that may or may not have been broken like their skills. What I did know is that this coach how no means of soliciting feedback from her clients so that she could discover their dissatisfaction and make the necessary adjustments to keep the relationships.
Feedback is your friend. It’s the lifeblood of the coaching relationship on many levels. And, in this case, to retain a client, feedback is the clearest indicator of how the coaching relationship is going.
So here’s how I believe that every coach can and should go about getting feedback…
Don’t be afraid of feedback.
We’ve all probably had bad experiences with receiving feedback. A lot of people don’t want any feedback unless it’s good.
But the fact of the matter is that all growth comes from a refining process.
I like self-evaluation, but it really can only take you so far. Sometimes we’re just too critical of ourselves or not too critical enough. We need the voice of others consistently in our lives to help us build self-awareness and make the needed adjustments.
The client experience is a bit subjective and objective at the same time. It’s subjective because most clients don’t know what coaching is and may be in a learning process as to what our role is in their life. But, it’s objective as well. Everyone knows what it means to be a good listener. Most people know a brilliant, probing question when they hear one. And the client themselves are an expert…on themselves.
So don’t be afraid of it. Don’t take it personally. Leverage feedback as a means as an essential part of your growth as a coach. If you only get celebrated as being the most amazing coach ever, the only thing that can grow is your head.
Make asking for feedback a regular part of your conversation.
Nothing to me is more unhelpful to you as a coach than soliciting feedback at the end of a coaching relationship.
Sure, you can get a testimonial out of one of those surveys, but it doesn’t help you become a better coach, and it didn’t help you in the process of that relationship.
A coaching relationship is actually very dynamic with a lot of twists and turns. The first few sessions are cake because you’re just getting started. By the time months 4 or 5 roll around, you’re very familiar with the client and you might have missed some cues for when you needed to adjust.
Coaching relationships change and evolve that’s why you need to be on top of it.
Don’t put off soliciting feedback to annual, every 3 month, every six month thing. You’ll be missing valuable insights that can regularly give the coaching conversation fresh oxygen to keep it thriving.
A client’s needs change.
In the midst of the dynamic of relationship is that a client’s needs change. What they needed from you when you began the coaching relationship in terms of focus, support, and encouragement may not be the same thing 3 months later.
But know do you know? Well you ask. And you ask regularly.
At a minimum, we need to solicit feedback from our clients on a monthly basis.
For me personally, I solicit some kind of feedback each week that I’m with a client. Why? I want them to know I’m interested, engaged, caring, attentive, but I also want to grow. I’m looking at this client as being a unique individual where my talent and skill can be stretched and adapted. I need the feedback.
Be specific, and don’t overwhelm them with a barrage of questions.
As I said, I ask for feedback regularly, but I don’t ask the same kinds of questions every time.. I have a goal and a strategy for what I’m soliciting.
The more specific your questions are, the easier it is for your client to answer and the better the feedback.
Here are the kinds of questions you can ask:
If I could adjust the kind of support I’m giving you, what would help you the most?
How could I support you better?
What do you really wish that I would ask you about?
Is there anything else?
What are we missing?
On a scale of 1-10, how encouraged do you feel?
On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you in this relationship? What can I do to get it to a 10?
Coaching is client-centered. When we ask these kinds of questions, we get clarity, make adjustments, and we empower the client.
If we discover we’re off in any way, we can always dial back in.
Feedback helps us discover and eliminate objections to continuing to work with us.
Find out people’s objections as we’re going along.
When I say “objection,” what I mean is we are finding out the reasons that someone would have for not continuing to work with us.
As a coach, I’m never worried about whether or not a client wants to leave me. It’s a non-issue.
And that’s because I always know the condition of the relationship I have with each client.
If a client is unsatisfied, it should never be a surprise for a coach.
If I find out that there is anything unsatisfying in the relationship, then I want to resolve it.
If we can stay honest and keep everything out on the table, we’re going to keep working together.
You can’t just walk on eggshells. We can’t just not ask and hope: “Well, maybe things will be okay.”
Make the necessary adjustments.
The only thing that makes feedback have any value is if you actually use it.
Nothing is worse that soliciting feedback then not utilizing it. And nothing devalues a client more than a suggestion that wasn’t acted upon.
Make sure you follow-up with any feedback that you’ve tried to act upon to make sure it was seen and appreciated.
That’s how you ensure that a client is satisfied, and you’ll keep them around until they’ve accomplished their goals.