If you’re an agency chief who rationally knows the benefits of conducting a client satisfaction survey, but you just can’t quite bring yourself to do it yet, read on.

First thing to note: you’re not alone. Putting in a rigorous Pulse Check can strike the fear into most agency heads. Indeed, I seem to spend a third of my time writing about why it’s good to do it.

Over seven years in business, we’ve seen and heard every objection that an agency boss can possibly have to going out to all of their clients and asking them “what do you really think of the service we are providing?”

What gives me immense satisfaction, however, is knowing that everyone who has done it has seen the depth of their fears far outweighed by the benefits of the output.

Measuring client satisfaction is a no-brainer, and yet there’s often a feeling of trepidation in the room when a board is deciding whether or not to formalise a process that they have probably been doing informally anyway. So, let’s examine where these fears come from.

1. The fear of the unknown

One of the most common fears is that, when asked how the agency is performing, clients may suddenly decide that they want to leave, thus triggering a tender process. Agencies worry that it might put a spotlight on a client who didn’t think they were unhappy, but when asked, unburden themselves. Our response is always the same: it’s far better to know either way! This way you can identify and uncover your latent grumblers and understand any issues that they haven’t articulated, so you can tackle them head on.

2. Cost concerns

Many agency heads fear that taking a Pulse Check is an expensive exercise. Our strongly held and much proven belief is this: if you save one client as a result of a better understanding of their needs, then you have already made a return on your investment.

Conducting regular Pulse Checks enables you to identify brand ambassadors and obtain clear quotes about why they recommend you. Brand ambassadors can often show up unexpectedly and provide you with nuggets that can be used as testimonials. They serve as motivators for both client and new business teams and, ultimately, help fill the new business hopper with potential leads. At its best, client satisfaction measurement performed well is a way to reduce attrition and stimulate growth.

3. Fear among team of exposing the agency’s weak performers

PRs are very good at PRing themselves, so by conducting a Pulse Check, you can identify your stronger and weaker performers as clients see them. In the worst case scenario it is better to know who your poor performers are, but looked at it positively, client feedback can be used as an opportunity to help train and develop your staff. Good Pulse Checks elicit constructive feedback, helping to answer the question “what needs to happen to make this a better relationship?” It’s not about naming and shaming, it’s about identifying training and development needs. Done well, client satisfaction survey results should inform your training across the agency and help HR understand what skills may be lacking.

4. We already have a mechanism in place – won’t this undermine it?

Any decent agency will already have a system in place to measure client satisfaction, so the fear is that it might undermine the current system or they can’t see what it will bring in addition. In some cases, a Board Director may be putting their own spin on feedback. The beauty of the Pulse Check is that it is one Pulse in a neutral voice, removing any subjectivity.

Some agencies may get feedback from some, but not all of their clients. Pulse Check supplements this by giving a picture across the whole client database. Many agencies gather feedback from clients in person, but online, people do tend to say more than they do face to face. We have found that clients tend to be less honest in their immediate feedback, particularly with the agency, but with an external party they can be more honest and, online, they can be even more candid. The value of the Pulse Check is not simply a Software as a Service platform, it’s the interpretation of the data and the consultancy we offer that helps you to listen better to your clients.

5. Fear of handing data over to a third party in light of GDPR

Since the inception of GDPR, many agencies have been worrying about how they handle their data. We reassure all our clients that we are members of the Market Research Society and abide by their data policies. Some of our safeguards include: all data is secured in password protected documents, data is encrypted when it comes onto the platform and stringent processes in place to ensure deletion from systems.

Summing up, I like to practice what we preach, so we conduct our own regular Pulse Checks.  We walk the talk. We keep doing this is because it helps to remind me that it is indeed nerve-racking waiting for comments to come in. If you care about clients, as any good agency head does, and you get negative feedback, it can be challenging. So go ahead: feel the fear,  gather the data and act on it. Next time you do it, we can guarantee it won’t be such a scary exercise.