Client Feedback Tool
  • Scores Don’t Matter!

    Posted on July 18th, 2013 Ryan Suydam No comments
    Scores Don't Matter!

    I just received an email from a vendor, after placing a large and complex order for software. This was a highly relational, professional service transaction, with an organization I’ve done business with for a decade. They know us, we know them, and we know they are the best at what they do.

    Here’s the email that I just received from the vendor:


    You may have seen these in the past, but I wanted to let you know that you may soon receive an email to participate in a customer satisfaction survey.  This is evaluating us as your solutions provider, and not evaluating the software manufacturer.


    There is a list of 5 or so questions, but the one I am personally evaluated on is the following: “How likely would you be to recommend your reseller to friends and colleagues as a provider of products and related services?”


    Anything below a 9 is considered unacceptable on my part.  I know I’ve just started working with you since I’m taking over for your previous representative, but please let me know if there is an area that I could improve if you are not able to score a “9” or better on that question.

    I’d argue that this is a perfect example of why feedback scores DON’T MATTER.

    I’m often amazed at how many times a service provider asks me to give him all top scores, threatening that otherwise he is personally damaged. I feel manipulated – as if my candid feedback won’t fix any problems I have – but instead get someone in trouble. And if I get him in trouble, how likely is he going to want to help me fix the problem?

    Now I’m stuck! I can’t use the feedback system to fix any problems, but I don’t want the vendor to be complacent about issues.

    The problem isn’t the guy who sent me the email – he’s just trying to do the best job he can. The real problem lies with the leadership who set up a punitive performance management system based on feedback scores.

    The scores don’t matter!

    If you establish a system where feedback scores directly affect compensation, advancement, reviews, or other employee outcomes, your employees will (on purpose or not) manipulate the system to get good scores. Whether they tell clients “anything less than an A is failing” or whether they simply don’t ask for feedback when they need it most – your staff will resist – and often reject the system.

    Let’s focus back on what feedback is really about – the CLIENT. Feedback always tells you more about the client, his expectations, and what’s going from his perspective. Feedback is designed, from the outset, to create a better project outcome for the client. The overriding purpose of the data is to enable your firm to take action and drive up client satisfaction. When the scores become about something else (employee performance reviews) the focus of the feedback is removed from the client, and directed somewhere else. Notice in the email I received – the feedback isn’t really about helping me – it’s about not hurting my representative.

    This is not to imply that your staff are not accountable for their feedback! But rather than focus on their scores, set your focus on metrics that actually drive the outcomes you want: better client service and satisfaction.

    The most important metric to track is your staff’s follow-up to feedback. Any exceptionally high scores should generate a conversation. Use them to identify what worked well and establish best practices for that client and elsewhere in your firm. Low scores need a prompt response to identify process improvements that prevent future problems. Make sure your staff follows up, documents the outcome and shares the results with others in the firm. It matters.

    You can also track other metrics – how much feedback someone asks for; their response rate; rate of repeat problems. All are “safe” metrics to track without marginalizing a project manager or encouraging him to game the system.

    Have any of you encountered manipulative feedback before? Are you currently using metrics internally that are having the wrong effect? Have you found any client satisfaction metrics that work really well? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

  • A Fresh Perspective on Performance and Evaluation

    Posted on July 8th, 2013 Ryan Suydam No comments

    Scores held in the air - imageMany of us are familiar with the idea of measurement improving outcome. Whether it’s Karl Pearson’s Law: “That which is measured improves” or the concept of losing weight by counting calories, we understand that measuring results is crucial to understanding how to improve results.

    But it’s not just the act of measuring – it’s measuring the RIGHT things and then utilizing what was learned from the results. When trying to improve the performance and evaluation of your team or team members, what should be measured (and how) become critical questions.

    Professional services organizations are beginning to follow the lead of other industries and explore areas such as Voice of the Customer (VOC), Client Experience Management (CEM), and Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM). And while 86% of organizations across all industries employ some form of customer/client feedback as part of their performance and evaluation strategy, only 5% of professional services firms do so.

    If you are planning to implement a feedback process, consider these three key steps to creating an effective performance and evaluation strategy powered by client feedback.

    1. Any measurement strategy should promote desired employee performance. Therefore, it’s important to measure things employees can control or greatly influence. If employees feel they are being held accountable for measurements beyond their sphere of control, they may reject the system, game the system, or lose hope. So when capturing client-centered metrics like feedback, don’t focus on the scores provided by clients. If you focus on feedback scores, rather than what employees do with scores, they may avoid feedback in the most critical situations. Instead, measure, monitor, and promote the successes of those who gather the most feedback, maintain the highest response rates, and follow-up most effectively to challenging feedback.
    2. Craft questions that measure improvable actions. Keep personalities out of your surveys. People don’t change quickly or easily. When faced with personal criticism, most people will reject the information. Instead, focus on the processes and practices of delivering the service. Processes are more easily documented, adjusted, and customized to a client.
    3. Measure early, measure often. Monitoring client expectations-the real source of success as a professional service organization-is just as critical as managing your income statement and balance sheet. You look at your financial reports every month, and carefully track progress over time – but when was the last time you looked at metrics from your clients’ perspective? How well are you doing for them? To maximize performance with clients, feedback cannot be a once a year (or once every five years) activity. Track constantly, during projects, when you have time to create better outcomes for your clients.

    The most important way to measure staff performance in a professional service firm is from the clients’ perspective. It’s really the client’s perception of reality that matters most. To summarize, to best measure performance and evaluate it from the client’s perspective:  make it easy and comfortable for the client to offer their feedback, have questions focus how well the process worked for them, and ask them often throughout a project, not just at the end.

    Measuring the right things the right ways ensures success in your performance and evaluation strategy. The science of measuring customer loyalty and behavior drives long term growth, committed customers, and a strong referrals.