Client Feedback Tool
  • Rethinking Client-centricity or How to be in the Top 5%

    Posted on November 26th, 2013 Ryan Suydam No comments

    “Differentiation” has become the new marketing and business development buzz word. With so many firms competing for the same business, many a strategic planning meeting includes a conversation on this challenging topic. When your firm provides the same or similar services as your competitors, it isn’t surprising that when leaders are asked for their ‘differentiator’ there is an almost deafening silence in the room!

    Enter Client-centricity. In the A&E industry, the road to differentiation seems to be linked to demonstrating how ‘client-centric’ a firm is. Creating value in the client experience is now more than just a topic of discussion in the marketing department; it is the subject of board and strategic planning meetings.How are firms tackling the challenge of integrating a client-centric culture into their entire organization? Some firms are launching client experience departments or teams whose purpose is to create behavioral guidelines to drive real change across the organization in every department and at every level. I have spoken with some firms who have interviewed their top clients to find out what they particularly like about the project delivery process. The goal? To understand how their clients want to have projects delivered and then integrate those elements into their overall project delivery process.Unique Approach small

    What’s wrong with this picture? An article in Harvard Business Review suggests that understanding a client’s selection process and analyzing their experience after they have chosen to do business with you will provide your firm with a powerful tool for differentiation. There’s the difference!

    There is no argument that a key to profitability is efficiency and a sound project delivery process. If you changed your process for every project, even those with similar deliverables, you and your team would remain on a never-ending learning curve and profits would suffer. But think about this. When you consider your co-workers, family, and friends – are there any two of you that like things exactly the same way? Chances are the answer is no. So, trying to be a client-centric firm while delivering the same process to each of your clients is a bit of an oxymoron!

    What’s the answer? Be really different. Treat each client as an individual. I know that answer sounds almost too obvious. But think about it.

    If the A&E industry is using client-centricity as their ‘differentiator’ and the majority of those firms are using a best practices approach to demonstrating this to their clients, then forgive me, where is the differentiation? I’ll go back to the Harvard Business Review article. Their definition of differentiation is ‘offering something of value that clients can’t get anywhere else’.

    Enter the Top 5%. Currently only 5% of A&E firms across the country are using a proactive feedback process to understand how each of their clients wants to have their project delivered. Let me state that again. Only 5% ask their clients on a regular basis how well their processes are aligned with their client’s expectations. That is a real differentiator!

    Client Feedback Tool grew out of an architecture firm nearly 10 years ago. The driving force for our business then – and it remains just as true today – is the knowledge that each client wants to be treated as an individual. And, that while processes are essential to profitability, the small changes made to deliver on individual expectations pay huge dividends (including increased profitability).

    Is your firm among those trying to find that differentiator that will separate you from the rest? Let us share our feedback solution with you. Give us a call at 866.433.7322 or click here to set up a free, no-obligation demo.

     

  • Project Conflict – cause for stress or road to opportunity

    Posted on November 7th, 2013 Sally Orcutt No comments

    If you ask friends or colleagues how they feel about conflict, you will likely know their answer even before they speak. Their body language will tell you immediately. That is because most people view conflict as having to do with arguments, agitation, and to an extreme extent, hostility. But what if we reframe the way we look at conflict? Is there a way to see conflict as an opportunity? What if we accept the fact that conflict is essentially about the gaps in expectations that happen when individuals interact?

    All project teams hit a bump in the road at times when it comes to gaps in client expectations associated with deliverables, communication, or schedule. When this happens, project conflict can occur. There is certainly no magic to ensure this doesn’t happen but there are three actions you can take using feedback to minimize the frequency and to turn these gaps in expectations into an opportunity to learn more about your clients. Orange Man Consultation

    Don’t avoid it or ignore it. Just because you are not aware of the gap between your clients’ expectations and what your team is delivering does not mean that the gap doesn’t exist. Both you and your client make assumptions related to their project every day. You assume that the way you have done 50 projects in the past that are just like this one is the way to progress on this one. Your client may have expectations (or a vision) about what the deliverable will look like that is different than what you are planning. It happens. However, if throughout the project you ask for feedback, you will catch these gaps in expectations as soon as they occur. And, the sooner you and your client have a conversation about the difference in your expectations, the sooner your project gets back on a healthy track.

    Don’t blame anyone. I have heard many A/E/C firms speak of having difficult clients. They say their (clients’) expectations are unrealistic, inconsistent, and that they just expect you to read their minds and know exactly how they want things done. This may be true. But beyond the obvious problem with telling your clients they are wrong, playing the blame game may create an attitude on your team that your clients will pick up on. By looking at project conflict as nothing more than a gap in expectations, you and your team will have the opportunity to learn more about each client. As you solicit feedback from your clients, you will close any gaps in expectations and be recognized as their expert.

    Communication – the great conflict alleviator. You can avoid having conflict escalate or go unresolved, by communicating regularly with your clients. Asking for feedback on a regular basis lets you keep a pulse on whether or not there are any expectation gaps. You will quickly see if there are any issues that need to come to the surface? By asking for feedback and following up, you will keep the channels of communication open. And, you will give your clients the opportunity to share with you their ideas and thoughts about how they would like you to serve them.

    Getting regular feedback lets you build an easy rapport with clients. The Client Feedback Tool process is easy and comfortable for both you and your clients. Integrated into your existing project management system, the feedback you receive provides you with new ideas about your clients’ preferences. We hear a lot about being your client’s trusted advisor. In addition to being their trusted advisor, you will also become the expert at how each individual client prefers to be served. Visit our website to learn more about using feedback as an opportunity to turn conflict into client loyalty and trust.

    Related posts: 3 Ways Client Surveys Build Stronger Relationships, Using Project Feedback to Increase Profitability, An inside look at the numbers – reducing client problems by 83%