Posted on February 14th, 2012 View Comments
It’s not hard to find people and organizations who believe that collecting feedback will help improve their outcomes. Most people understand the inherent value of maintaining a pulse on their clients, and those who want to take action are eager to start. But how? What processes work most quickly and simply to engage everyone in your organization? How do you introduce your employees to the ideas, gain buy-in, and begin training them on the tools and techniques you would like them to use?
A new client of ours recently crafted an excellent letter to their staff, and has kindly offered to share their experience with the Client Feedback Tool community. WK Dickson, an ENR 500 multidisciplinary consulting firm, began their engagement with a day of strategic planning to prepare a solid foundation. With that foundation identified, Kraig Kern, Director of Marketing, shared this letter with the firm:
As you know, we value our client relationships very highly. The root of our firm’s prosperity comes from clients who retain us year after year and trust us to do their work well. It is important not to take these relationships for granted, and to continuously improve our ability to meet their specific needs.
Think about a time in your own life where it was obvious that someone really understood your needs and did everything they could to fulfill them. It felt pretty good didn’t it? Now put yourself in your client’s shoes and imagine their reaction when you do more than they expect.
Every client is different, so we need to identify what project delivery methods and processes work best for each of them. While our firm standards create a good baseline for successful project delivery, we may need to adjust for some clients, project managers, and possibly for each unique project type. The only way to know for sure is to ask.
As of today you have been added as a participant to our new and innovative Client Feedback Tool. For now, only a few of us will manage the tool until we develop a more systematic approach that makes it easy for everyone to take part. We will also soon be scheduling training to teach you how to use this simple system to collect feedback quickly, easily, and consistently from your clients and others.
The Client Feedback Tool is easy to use, and only takes one minute to solicit feedback using the built-in templates and patented slider bar. In fact, some of you may have already experienced what it looks like after feedback was requested following the recent lunch and learn this week. If you would like to watch a short, 5-minute introduction video on the tool, please click here.
We are excited at this opportunity for each of us to grow personally and professionally; and as a firm improve our client relationships to create real and lasting value.
More details will follow in the coming weeks. In the meantime thank you in advance for your participation.
Kraig’s letter works well for a few key reasons. First, he opened with a vision – clearly and succinctly defining the objective and importance of the feedback initiative. He then follows with an encouraging note, appealing directly to the feelings we get when recognized for a job well done. Rather than focus on problem discovery (which is an important aspect of feedback), the initial impression focuses on the positive element, reducing fear and making feedback feel “safe” for everyone.
In the third paragraph, Kraig outlines the need to discover issues, again crafting the language in the positive – not looking for problems but seeking to adapt to the unique needs each client, project, or project type demands. Nothing here is scary or cause for concern.
When introducing the actual feedback process, Kraig outlines clear expectations for each employee, what has already occured, what will happen, and when they can expect to begin engaging with the tool. He again eases the burden on the employees, stating a select group will start it and work out the kinks. Simultaneously, scarcity and confidence are created. His team also provided a chance for all employees to try the system from the client perspective, by soliciting feedback on an unrelated training session. This simple technique exposed all employees to the tool in a simple, helpful way.
Appealing to the eager minds (and those who don’t like being surprised in a training session), Kraig offers an online video (available in our library) for those interested to view and learn more.
As a whole, this simple and short letter is easy to read, encourages staff, and builds confidence that the process will be easy, safe, and effective.
About WK Dickson:
WK Dickson is an ENR Top 500 multi-disciplined consulting firm specializing in community infrastructure solutions including: Transportation Planning & Design; Environmental and Water Resources Engineering; Urban Planning and Development; and Geospatial Technology. The firm has been headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1929 and has grown to operate seven regional offices strategically located throughout the Southeastern United States.