Posted on April 30th, 2009 View Comments
We’ve spent over five years focused on feedback, and along the way, we’ve participated in every feedback program we come across. We’ve taken every survey, fielded every call, and attended interviews. In almost every case, the same mistake is made. The feedback I’m giving to you, shouldn’t be about you – it should be about me.
Let me say it again:
When you ask me for feedback, the focus should be me.
The most common mistake we see in feedback programs is that the person asking for feedback mistakenly acts as though HE is more important than the client he’s surveying. The feedback programs are very ego-centric, rather than client-focused.
Feedback requests should be primarily for the benefit of the person giving feedback. If there’s nothing in it for them, you won’t get much feedback, and what you do get will not be of good quality. You also miss a HUGE opportunity to build lasting loyalty and commitment from your client.
So, how does one ask for feedback for the benefit of the person you’re asking?
- Keep it SHORT. You are taking time from your clients when you ask for feedback. Show them that you respect their time by not wasting any. Ask only what you need. If some feedback collected suggests further attention is required, THEN you can take some more time to discover and respond. Ask no more than 5-7 questions. Take no more than 2 minutes. Respect their time as if it’s your own.
- Don’t wait until the END. If you collect feedback at the end of a project / service, how is the client helped? Get feedback EARLY and OFTEN, before the work is done. The client will know you have a chance to respond, adjust, and deliver the final product in a better way, before it’s too late.
- Stay FOCUSED. Their feedback tells you about their needs and expectations – so ask questions that bring this to light. Avoid questions to which the answer gives them no benefit. ”How do I compare to competitor XYZ” would be a good example of a bad question. There’s no way to answer in a way that helps me. Questions such as “How did my responsiveness match your expectations?” lets the client provide course correction – or praise – so you can adjust your responsiveness to a more fitting style, customized for that client.
- Follow Up. If you ask, and they respond, do something about it. Let them know how their feedback is going to help you help them. Responding in a way that returns immediate results will create an ecosystem of constant feedback, adjustment, communication – and long term loyalty.
“So what about me?” you may be asking. That’s where a system for collecting feedback becomes critical. Collect feedback in a consistent way, in short doses – but get a LOT of it. Over time you will build a vast history of performance and effectiveness, from which you can glean countless insights into you, your staff, and your company.
If you want to be client-focused, be sure your client feedback sends the same message!
Posted on April 22nd, 2009 View Comments
Having just purchased a new car, I recently received a call asking if I would take a satisfaction survey. Because feedback is what we’re all about – of course I agreed. I also asked who was in charge of that part of the show, and, I really should have asked how to spell it, because I never actually found them online. But, while searching for them, I found a report by Accenture called “High Performance in the Age of Customer Centricity.” Even though I had to give away some personal information in order to be allowed download it, it was worth doing, as they had some interesting findings to share. One statement that really caught my attention was:
“Our analysis suggests that how often consumers felt their real expectations were met appears to be a better indicator of their likelihood of leaving or remaining loyal.”
This is also what we have learned with our work on DesignFacilitator’s Client Feedback Tool. What matters most is not how well they thought you served your client, but how well you performed compared to their expectations. Comparing what they expected to what they actually received measures their feelings in a way that a “very satisfied – not at all satisfied” scale simply cannot capture. Take for example a crab cake I ordered at Second Empire Restaurant. It was fantastic, but was it $18 worth of fantastic? Actually, yes it was. This says a lot because, as one of the highest rated restaurants in our area, my expectations were extremely high, and yet they still impressed me.
Stereotypes of car dealers and dealerships abound, and since this was my first new car buying experience, those stereotypes were what I expected. I winced walking in the door. It wasn’t loads of fun, but since I was expecting the worst, I thought it really went quite well. Now I have a better opinion of (some) car salesmen, a new car, and higher expectations for the next time around.
To download the report mentioned above, visit: https://www.accenture.com/Global/Registration/Accenture2008SurveyRequest.htm
Posted on April 17th, 2009 View CommentsThe most effective type of client feedback covers a wide variety of issues related to the efforts that a professional services firm makes for their clients. In order to be useful, the feedback must also accurately capture the clients’ perception of how the service providing firm performed relative to the client expectations. This is a critical aspect for feedback to be able to help a firm understand their client and how to most quickly create the maximum value. If the firm did not meet the expectations of their client, a problem is created that if unnoticed and left unattended, can fester into a major issue or a liability insurance claim. With the typical cost of claims at over $300,000 /year and each claim averaging about 3 years duration, that’s a million dollar misunderstanding.
However, whether the firm exceeded the client’s expectations or not, effective feedback will contain sufficient specifics to allow the firm to understand exactly what the client either appreciated or objected to. In surveying clients for their feedback, we have found that the shorter and simpler the survey, the greater number of surveys are returned with feedback. Our research has shown that a survey that takes more than a few minutes to complete will be abandoned by 95% of people.The ultimate challenge of gathering effective feedback is to make the survey very comprehensive while also being very concise. Over the years, we have distilled the survey questions in our patent pending Client Feedback Tool to a grand total of six. In order for only six questions cover a wide gamut of client service issues we divided the topics covered into two main categories: Deliverables and Relationships. “Deliverables” inventory the client’s perceptions on WHAT the design firm produced. “Relationships” questions collect feedback on HOW the firm’s process worked. Deliverable questions focus on things while relationship questions focus on people.The key factors regarding the Deliverables include how well the design firm’s products:
The key factors regarding the Relationships include how well the design staff’s process:
- Attended to the Schedule goals of the project
- Addressed the Budget parameters of the project
- Included the appropriate Accuracy required to be effective
This breakdown of categories was honed to produce the most constructive feedback for professional service firms while also allowing the client the most succinct but satisfying opportunity to offer feedback to help produce the most successful project. While the firm gets full credit for being proactive and professional in asking for feedback, the client becomes more involved and engaged in the project and therefore feels more ownership in the outcome.
- Offered the Helpfulness needed by the client
- Included the Responsiveness desired by the client
- Contained the level of Quality sought by the client
A survey tool that includes one question in each of the above six categories, particularly if the survey uses our specialized process-oriented question format and detailed numeric answer slider can collect valuable, objective, actionable feedback for a professional services firm in only two minutes of a client’s day.
Posted on April 12th, 2009 View Comments
Everyone has heard the idea of a “feedback loop” or cycle. In fact, “Feedback Cycle” is rather redundant, as the original definition of feedback (according to Marriam Webster) is “ the return to the input of a part of the output of a process.” In effect, the very word feedback means to take the results of a process, and feed them into the start of the next process iteration.
Our Client Feedback Tool helps you utilze feedback from clients (internal or external) in a complete cycle:
- Ask for Feedback
- Review your Feedback
- Follow-up to your Feedback
When managing client relationships, each component is critical. Asking for feedback shows that you care. Asking creates an open atmosphere of communication, setting a precident that you welcome correction and enhancements any time – not just when you ask for them.
Reviewing feedback – immediately when it is received – allows you to identify where refinement is required. You know who has pain, and the context is there to help you solve any problems. You also know when you’ve become someone’s “expert” – when you’ve reached that level of service and process refinement that will keep you glued to your client for years to come.
Most importantly, track your follow-up. When you ask for, receive, and review feedback – it is now your obligation to incorporate that feedback into your work going forward. Especially if you received corrective feedback from a client, it is critical to follow-up, and discuss what adjustments are being made. The adjustments may be to your process, or they may be to bring unreasonable expectations into line with the project constraints. Either way, once feedback has been given to you, it’s your role to provide a response, or feedback, of your own. If you do get corrective feedback from a client, and don’t follow-up, you not only have missed a huge opportunity to shine, but may incur more damage to the relationship by indicating you don’t care enough to respond. Feedback is a two-way street.
Our Client Feedback Tool gives you the resources you need to collect and track feedback, and share/publish the follow-up to others in your firm who may work with that client. You create a client history of decisions, adjustments, and celebrations helping cement the loyalty of your best clients.
Posted on April 6th, 2009 View Comments
April 9, 2009
10:00 am Pacific Time
Axium’s Best Practices Webinar Series, presents Mike Phillips
This program illustrates how a design firm can create a simple system to collect and incorporate client feedback. Utilizing six key principles, this system builds real value for your firm by fine-tuning your process to better meet your client’s needs. Learn to use client feedback to reduce problems, increase performance and improve profitability.
Improvements for designers include:
- increased value to their client
- reduced wasted time & effort
- enhanced professional satisfaction
- reduced mistakes & project liability