Full Sail Partners Blog

Are You Using Feedback to Create a Unique Client Experience?

client-experience.pngWe all regularly receive requests for feedback. I think I received at least 10 emails last week that were seeking my participation in a survey, most of which were post-transaction requests. For example, I received surveys after purchasing a sandwich, changing the oil in my car, and getting my hair cut. While I don’t really mind feedback requests from these businesses I use regularly, I’m just not very motivated to do surveys AFTER the transaction. The sandwich was either good or bad; the oil change was either efficient or not (preferably WiFi was provided in the waiting area). There’s very little any of these businesses can do to change my client experience after it’s over. 

Delivering professional services is a different kind of “transaction.” The client experience plays out over the period of time in which we are engaged with them as service providers. From the very first phone calls and kick-off meetings, our clients are experiencing what we have to offer – below, at or above their expectations. For those of us in project management roles with direct client interaction, it behooves us to keep tabs on their perceptions, especially the up or down changes as our work progresses so that we can make adjustments quickly and effectively. 

Quantitative tools are helpful, and can help pinpoint our focus on the movement of the client’s perceptions and our subsequent responses, rather than the particular “score” itself. In this context, ask yourself whether you really know whether your services are providing less than, exactly, or much more than what was expected. 

Managing a Portfolio of Client Feedback

Managing a strategic client feedback program in professional services can get pretty intense. Keeping up with many concurrent projects, all the related people who experience your firm’s work, and the needed follow-up can be daunting without some organizational tools. You should save as much time and energy as possible for feedback analysis and follow-up. Find ways to streamline the administrative part of requesting feedback. One tactic is to use as much of your existing data as possible – you have mounds of existing contact, project, and employee data that should be used to help simplify the mechanics of the program. 

A well-designed feedback program will also leverage the nuances of each major type of project you deliver. Engagements that are 100% complete in two days will obviously have different feedback patterns, or “configurations,” than will those which last three years. Look across the landscape of your projects and mentally divide them into piles. Make a separate pile for each group of projects that could use a consistent schedule of feedback events. These events might be major project milestones, billing percentages, or simply a request frequency that makes sense, like every 90 days. Organizing your program in a way that minimizes the administrative burden of getting feedback requests out the door will go a long way. Even with a response rate of 50%, you have to send 2 to get 1 back, so get busy! 

Understand Expectations to Create a Better Client Experience

You had no idea how [great/awful] your client’s perceptions are of your firm’s work. The client, up until now, had been so [negative/positive] in their interactions with your team. The important next step is to engage with your client in an appreciative way to gain clarity on their [rising/falling] perceptions. The information you gather should help you consider adjustments that will more closely align your service delivery with the client’s expectations. 

Adjustments to align with client expectations can move in either direction. Getting direct client feedback in an organized program can help project managers carry out their primary responsibilities more effectively – if you make follow-up a priority. Sometimes a less-than-stellar piece of feedback can turn out to be a simple misunderstanding – dealing with it quickly can have much more influence on the client’s perceptions than the issue itself. Conversely, when the scores are skyrocketing and the clients are saying, “Wow, you gave us so much more than what we were expecting,” it might be time to go back and review your original scope of work. Either situation can help project managers become more effective at delivering 

Feedback is About Client Experiences / Expectations. Not about YOU! 

Professional services firms who deliver great client experiences are adept at using feedback in a regular recurring fashion. The after-the-fact “How Great Are We?” isn’t sufficient anymore. Taking a strategic approach to systematically tracking the movement of your clients’ perceptions, and diligently responding to make adjustments, will keep you in the loop for good! 

So, what’s the most efficient way to gather client feedback? How often do you gather feedback? Most importantly, don’t forget the all-important final question: What do you do when you get their feedback? Check out this whitepaper for answers to these questions and more.

client feedback

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