Client Feedback Tool
  • Avoid Commoditization – Tell A Story

    Posted on February 24th, 2015 Sally Orcutt No comments
    Avoid Commoditization - Tell A Story

    It’s not what you do – it is the experience you provide.

    When was the last time you attended an industry meeting that did NOT highlight the plight of commoditization?

    Dictionary.com defines the word:  “almost total lack of meaningful differentiation in the goods (or services) provided“.

    So how do you avoid commoditization and differentiate your firm? What can you do to stand out from your peers?

    Beyond all the marketing tricks and branding exercises, real differentiation happens at the experiential level. It’s not what you do for your clients, but rather how you do it.

    We know quality service when we see or feel it. When you share stories about times you received excellent service, do you talk about what they did? Or how it felt? Remembering that excellent hotel stay – you describe it as “inviting” the staff as “friendly” and the bed as “comfortable.” None of these words are objective features – they are subjective experiences you perceived.

    Your clients are people just like you. When they talk about your firm, they are not saying “Wow, ACME Engineering really got the sewer pipes to line up perfectly”. They are saying “Wow, ACME Engineering took really good care of us. They understood why we needed to complete this phase of the project on a fast track and they made it happen. There helped us manage the scope, anticipate challenges, and solve construction problems. They were easy to get hold of and followed up on any questions we had really quickly”.

    There is the ‘meaningful difference’. When you understand the story behind the project, you are more than ‘the firm that put the pipes in the ground’. You are the firm that cared enough to really grasp what was important to your client. You are the firm who took care of them.

    Without understanding the story your clients tell, the project risks becoming internally focused on your goals rather than the client’s goals. With the story, you are a part of the vision, and your client’s goals become your goals. With the story, you are aligned. You are partners.

    Download “The Power of Storytelling for Your Firm”, a 90-minute Webinar from Client Feedback Tool co-founder Ryan Suydam. Ryan outlines the importance of storytelling, methods for gathering stories, tips for using stories internally to improve staff and culture, and best practices for using stories externally in marketing, business development, and project delivery.

     

  • Even Best Friends Need Feedback

    Posted on February 4th, 2015 Ryan Suydam No comments
    Even Best Friends Need Feedback

    I just received a call from one of our Client Feedback Tool users who needed help with a technical issue. While working with him (I’ll call him John), we began discussing a feedback response he just received.

    John’s client responded with all scores in the “Exceptional” range, and a Net Promoter Score of 10 (very likely to recommend him). The client even wrote in a comment: “Working with John is always an outstanding experience!” – What great feedback.

    Buried in all the glitter and gold, I saw something interesting. On one question, regarding managing the project budget, the client responded with an “Acceptable” answer – a full notch down from Met Expectations. As the Client Feedback Tool’s sliding scale prevents any “accidental” scores, the client had clearly dragged the score down. He had something to say.

    When I asked John about his strategy for following-up, I suggested that (as is best practice) he email the client first, inviting the client to a conversation about managing the budget. This heads up allows the client time to formulate thoughts and engage in the conversation. Then, follow-up at the scheduled time via phone or meeting to – as humanly as possible – address the challenges.

    John laughed lightly, and said, “Oh, there’s no problem here – he’s my best friend. I’ll just call him.”

    John has a good attitude here – he likes his client (and his client likes him), so they can openly talk about a challenge and work together on bringing improvement. That’s great.

    But the real lesson here, is that even though they are best friends, and can talk about challenging feedback openly – a simple, electronic feedback system was still instrumental in starting the conversation. As close as they may be, making it the client’s responsibility to introduce a concern puts an unfair burden on the client. Especially when they’re close associates or friends. So many people are timid about introducing criticism, or don’t want to hurt your feelings. Making them go first forces them into an uncomfortable position.

    A simple set of questions, posed between friends, is starting a dialogue that needed to happen.

    The closer your client is, the more I encourage you to experiment with feedback. These are the most valued relationships you have, they are the safest, and with a little discovery and improvement, these clients will grow into even bigger fans and advocates for you and your firm.