Client Feedback Tool
  • “Measure What Matters” Client Feedback in the AEC Industry

    Posted on December 17th, 2013 Sally Orcutt No comments

    I would like to thank LeAnn Nowak, Marketing Director at Base Builders, LLC for agreeing to be a guest blogger for Client Feedback Tool. LeAnn recently attended Mike Phillips’ presentation at the PSMJ Industry Summit 2013. In her post, LeAnn shares her thoughts on Mike’s presentation “Firm Metrics + Client Metrics = Growth” and the importance of ‘measuring what matters’.

    I’ve just returned from the PSMJ A/E/C Industry Summit – it was an education filled two days with sessions covering all aspects of business management in the industry.   One of my favorite sessions was regarding measuring client satisfaction led by Mike Phillips, AIA, IIDA the President and Founder of Phillips Architecture and the Client Feedback Tool.Customer-crossword-for-blog

    For the past 20 years I’ve been speaking (and preaching) about measuring metrics – it goes hand in hand with marketing and selling business management software.  It is important for me to relay the message that AEC firms need to know their metrics if they are going to be wildly successful.

    Mike fully agreed with measuring metrics but he put a different spin on it.  He talked about measuring what really matters. Your client feedback.   Why are you in business after all?

    If you are aware of your client expectations and perceptions and realize that they will change then you can improve your value to your clients.   The number one reason that you want to obtain client feedback is to make your client experience better but it can also help you to improve the way you run your overall business and can have a big impact on your staffing and employee relationships.

    Think about it in terms of what is important to your employees – one of the number one reasons that a person leaves a firm is that they feel they are not recognized for their performance. If you are measuring their performance in terms of client satisfaction you will be able to provide them with the recognition they deserve and therefore can improve your retention.  And, the feedback can help you identify future leaders as well.

    Be sure to measure your helpfulness, your responsiveness, the quality, budget, schedule and accuracy of your project deliverables.  Be sure to measure real-time at the project start and through each phase as well as at close out.  Include your employees in the process of gathering the feedback  — you might think that the hardest part of this is gaining your employee buy in but remember this quote from Mike: “Whatever is measured matters. Staff pays attention to what matters.”   If you are using the information you collect then you will prove the value of the information and your team will want to participate.

    While I still fully believe you need to measure the financial indicators in your business – I have also added a new talking point to my “war chest”, let’s all measure client feedback and improve the value we offer.

    Thank you again LeAnn. To learn more about Client Feedback Tool’s integrated client feedback process, visit our website at www.clientfeedbacktool.com.

    Base Builders, LLC was born out of an electrical engineering practice and focuses solely on the AE industry. To learn more about business/project management software for small firms visit their website at www.basebuilders.com.

  • Just Click the Dot for Details

    Posted on December 12th, 2013 Sally Orcutt No comments

    As a project manager you have more to do in any given day than you can possibly get done. Sound about right? And, as if you don’t have enough to do, you sit through team meetings, office meetings, and visits from the top leadership where they remind you how important it is to ensure your clients are your top priority while also achieving strong profits. Okay. Now for the big question – how do you balance both priorities?

    Do you remember the EASY button? Well I think Staples© was really onto something with that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I had one of those to handle tasks that I knew were important but that I struggled to get completed. Have you ever wished you had one to measure how things were going with your clients? Wouldn’t it be great to have a one button solution when your supervisor asks you how things are going with your clients?

    Well, now you do. The answer – send your clients project surveys!

    Client Feedback Tool grew out of an architectural firm so I definitely get it! As strongly as I believe that getting feedback from your clients is essential to building strong and lasting relationships, I am well aware that time is the one thing project managers in the A&E industry have in limited supply!

    So you may be wondering, he just acknowledged that project managers have no time for extra steps in the project management process and yet he is suggesting that we send project surveys to our clients? Fair enough. The truth is that it takes less than 2 minutes to send your clients a survey. And, the information you get will save you so much time!

    Every time one of our clients sends a survey, their clients’ responses are logged onto a scatter plot like the one in this figure. One of several reporting options, the scatter plot analyzes how well client expectations are being met. It takes less than a minute to run and you can schedule it as a weekly or monthly recurring report. Our clients see a snapshot of what their clients are saying. Are you starting to see how this will give you the information you need?

    Each of our surveys consists of about 6 – 8 questions asking how well client expectations in different categories are being met. The blue dots represent individual pieces of feedback from one of those surveys. With a 4.0 indicating that the client’s expectations are being met, this one chart can be your very own EASY button!Scatter Plot revised

    With one quick glance you can see that overall you and your team are meeting, or exceeding, your clients’ expectations. But there’s more.

    When you click on any of the blue dots, you immediately see:

    • What project that piece of feedback is associated with
    • What question was being asked
    • Who answered the question
    • Any specific comments by the respondent

    It’s important to note that using project surveys does not replace the ongoing conversations you have with your clients.  However, with a strong feedback process you can, in about 5 minutes a day, get the details you need and get back to managing your projects. If there are ever any challenging responses, a simple click on the blue dot gives you the information you need to begin finding a resolution before their concerns become problems.

    In addition to seeing the results for the clients you manage overall, you will have the ability to see a scatter plot for each individual client as well. Now, with your very own EASY button, the next time you are asked ‘how are things going’, you will have the information at your fingertips!

    Interested in learning more about using project surveys? Visit our website at www.clientfeedbacktool.com and click on Feedback 101.

  • If ‘Life is like a box of chocolates’, what are you saying to your clients?

    Posted on December 4th, 2013 Sally Orcutt No comments

    I’m not sure what made me think of this famous line from Forrest Gump as I started writing about balancing relationships and productivity at the holidays. I even did a Google search on the quote and found a YouTube clip of that park bench scene. I debated whether or not to include the clip. As you’ll remember, Forrest’s mama said this to him because, like taking a piece from a box of chocolates, (in life) you never know what you are going to get. Hmmm, not really relevant to balancing relationships and productivity is it. But, then again.

    If you are like most firms in the A&E Industry, November and December are challenging months to hit utilization goals. It is no small feat to balance employee time off with project delivery and profitability. Balancing these elements is certainly essential for the health of your business. But, what about client relationships? With so much energy internally focused, is it possible that your client focus is limited to just sending a basket of goodies or a holiday card? Is there a chance that your clients’ experience during this time will be like that ‘box of chocolates’? They will not be sure how their project’s schedule, budget, and quality will stay on track.

    Okay, maybe this analogy is a bit of a stretch. However, here’s the thing. Your clients are balancing many of the same challenges as you are during the holidays. They are trying to keep projects on track even as they too are short-staffed. So how can you increase your value to them, balance your internal metrics, and really bring some holiday cheer to your clients (and your staff)? Here are three easy to implement candy pieces for Blogtips that will set your firm apart from the rest:

    Communicate and collaborate. As you review your staffs’ requests for time off, why not take a moment and give your clients a call. What does their schedule look like? When will the key staff that need to review the upcoming deliverable be available? Your clients will appreciate that you considered their schedule. And, you will be able to plan your team’s workload more effectively.

    Manage expectations early. When you set up your project plan, you likely considered the schedule impact of increased staff time off. However, we all know that schedules can be fluid. Your plan to be at a specific point in the project during the holidays can, at times, slide off course. Talk to your client. Share with them your strategy to adjust the schedule after the holiday to make up for lost time. Will that work for them?

    Thank them for their business. Yes, in addition to the holiday card and the box of goodies, pick up the phone and thank them for their business. Clients are individuals and they, like you, love to feel appreciated. We all know that the A&E Industry is a relationship business and relationships involve an emotional connection. Sure, it’s business. Even so, take a couple of minutes and make it personal as well.

    And yes, here is the YouTube video clip.

    Client Feedback Tool is committed to helping our clients build strong relationships with their clients through project-based feedback. Visit our website and watch our 3-Minute Video or email us for a personalized demo.