Client Feedback Tool
  • ‘Aha!’ Moments (and how they change everything)

    Posted on March 25th, 2015 Ryan Suydam No comments
    'Aha!' Moments (and how they change everything)

    Oh. I bet this guy learned a lesson he’ll never forget.

    Duh learning moment

    It was one of those ‘Aha!’ moments when the light bulb goes on and your thinking and behavior change forever. He’ll never go back to a square wheel again. He’ll never wake up one day and haul a woolly mammoth across the steppes and realize he put the wrong wheel on today.

    Not all learning sticks like that.

    I am bombarded with opportunities to learn. Most of what I learn goes in, and right back out. Some ideas are important enough I capture them as an action item. “Go to the gym” might be one of those. Something important that I want to do, but I have to act upon the item to make the change. Many times, the change never happens. It’s too much work.

    Then I have moments that change the way I think. When I see a situation differently. When I realize I can’t go back and un-know what was learned. More than knowing, this type of moment changes behavior – automatically. These moments don’t happen often, and they are real game-changers.

    I help professional services firms uncover ‘Aha!’ moments with their clients, and within their firms, that allow them to drive greater success and satisfaction just because they know. I reviewed the report below with one of our clients. To help you see the ‘Aha! moment’, let me share information about how to read this data.

    • The scale on the right is used when a clients responds to a feedback request. The scale centers automatically at Met Expectations, driving clients to intentionally move the slider up or down to change the score.
    • The chart on the left, the black bar indicates the average score (by Project Manager). The dark blue represents the scores in the 25% – 75% range. The light blue shows the minimum or maximum scores.

    Duh Moments graphic 2

    When reviewing this chart, I focused on two project managers, Chris and Dan. Both were, at a minimum, meeting their clients’ needs. Most of Chris’ scores were in the Excellent to Exceptional range. Dan’s scores were between Met Expectations and Exceeded Expectations. Some may think that Chris is the better project manager. After all – he’s at the top of the chart! But, when I asked one question, we found an ‘Aha!’ moment.

    “What is the difference in their project profitability?”

    Chris’ projects average 3% profitability. Dan’s average 38%. Chris was chronically over-delivering on his projects and not charging for services out of scope. Dan, on the other hand, has a very clear sense of what his clients’ value and he prices his services accordingly.

    We showed this to Chris. He had an ‘Aha!’ moment. He realized his clients value the work he does for them. He stopped doing things they didn’t care about and started charging appropriately for services out of scope. Understanding what his clients were telling him changed everything.

    The rest of the story…

    When we checked back six months later, Chris’ project profitability had already taken a healthy upturn (up to 18%). And his feedback scores, while lower, still were near the top of the pack.

    One simple ‘Aha!’ moment changed everything for Chris. Not only was he earning his keep with the shareholders, but he felt validated by his clients, and continued to deliver a high-value proposition to them. What an easy win/win/win story.

    Interested in hearing more about stories like Chris’s – and how you can discover your own stories to drive success both within your firm and with your clients?

    Download The Power of Storytelling for Your Firm – a 90-minute Webinar outlining 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.

    I’ll wager you have an ‘Aha!’ moment by the end. What are you waiting for?

     

  • 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.

  • Your Biggest Blind Spot

    Posted on August 6th, 2014 Sally Orcutt No comments
    Your Biggest Blind Spot

     

    Every time Mike Phillips or Ryan Suydam (co-founders of Client Feedback Tool) speak they share with their audience the importance of asking clients for feedback throughout a project. If you’ve heard them, you know what I’m going to say next. “When you wait until the end of a project to ask your client for their feedback. It’s nothing more than an autopsy!” They’re right. What can you do at that point to impact the client’s experience on ‘that’ project?

    In Your Biggest Blind Spot, Rich Friedman, founder of Friedman & Partners (and Client Feedback Tool partner) shares a story he and Ryan discussed in which Ryan was the client. You guessed it, there were challenges in the service delivery. But, as Ryan was quick to share, the company providing us the service had a feedback strategy and did almost everything right. Unfortunately with everything they did right, all the General Manager could say was “I’m sorry your project didn’t turn out as you expected.”

    Download your copy of ‘Your Biggest Blind Spot’. Read the rest of the story and see the 5 ways to test your client feedback strategy to see if it is driving the value you want.

    Please share your comments related to feedback strategies you’ve seen that have worked (or not). We would appreciate hearing from you.

     

     

  • What’s it like to shop at your store?

    Posted on January 7th, 2014 Sally Orcutt No comments
    What’s it like to shop at your store?

    Our thanks to David Stone (Stone & Company) for agreeing to be our guest today and allow us to share this post. If you haven’t already heard of David, he is the founder and President of Stone and Company. He has been working in the design and construction industry since 1974. He has owned his own architectural design firm and has written books on marketing, business development, and project management.

    I had heard of Ukrop’s before reading David’s post. During my time at an ENR 500 engineering firm, one of our firm leaders asked staff to share any exceptional customer experience stories they could remember. One team member had come from Virginia and had shopped at Ukrop’s. She shared stories very similar to the ones David shares. As a firm, we sought to put our clients first. Ukrop’s served as an inspirational model for our firm on how attitude really could and would drive client loyalty. To read more from David, visit his Blog.

    What’s it like to shop at your store? (posted January 7, 2014)

    There used to be a grocery store chain in Virginia called Ukrop’s. They were in business for more than 70 years until, a few years back, the owners took their well-deserved rewards in a buy-out. While they were operating, they had an almost mythical reputation for customer service.

    I never got to shop there myself, but over the years I’ve met many people who did and they invariably had their own, personal service stories to tell:

    I stopped in around dinnertime, having just picked up my 18-month-old from daycare. She’d neither eaten nor had a recent diaper change and was wailing up a storm. I pushed my cart into one aisle and saw an employee – probably late teens – stacking shelves. When he heard the screaming baby, he dropped the soup cans and ran out of the aisle. But not 20 seconds later, he was back. He’d run to the bakery department, grabbed a cookie and asked if it might help her feel better!

    I was in search of chopped walnuts for my annual Christmas baking spree. The shelf was empty and the grocery manager confirmed they were out of stock. But then he said, “Carry on with your shopping. I’ll take care of this.” I then watched as he went to the front of the store, nabbed one of the employees bagging groceries, handed him a $10 bill and told him to run across the street (to a competitor’s store!) and buy a bag of walnuts. By the time I was in the checkout line, the young man was back, handed me the bag of nuts with a smile and wished me a Merry Christmas!

    Before we moved to Dallas, we lived in Virginia and always shopped there. About six months after the move (when the Postal Service stopped forwarding their advertising flyers) I received a personal note from the President. The note said how it had come to his attention that we’d left the Richmond area; how he wanted to thank us for our patronage during the years we’d lived there; how he wished us the best of luck in our new home in Texas and how, if we ever returned to Virginia, he’d love to welcome us back to Ukrop’s.

    WOW!

    There are some interesting take-aways here. First, everyone I met was an enthusiastic, unpaid member of the store’s marketing department. They loved to tell their stories and recruit new customers. Second, they all agreed that it was more expensive to shop there, but absolutely worth it. Finally, it doesn’t get much more commoditized than chopped walnuts. But the fantastic service was enough to break that price sensitivity.

    So, what’s it like to shop at your engineering store?

    You didn’t know you had an engineering (or architecture, or construction) store. You have customers. They come in to buy 10 pounds of engineering. And the whole time they’re evaluating what it’s like to shop at your place. What’s it like to phone in to your office? What’s it like to have one of your Project Managers run a meeting? What is the ‘customer experience’ like at your firm?

    Every retail operator in the world today is talking about customer experience and trying to make it better. At the start of this New Year, why not make it a point to ask some of your customers about their experience. And then do something to make it better.

    You’ve got a lot of competitors and they all sell the same chopped nuts that you do. What’s it like to shop at your store?

     

  • Marketing with Client Feedback: Transpo Group’s Winning Methods

    Posted on April 13th, 2012 Matt 1 comment


    Headquartered in Kirkland, WA with offices around the western US as well as the Middle East, Transpo Group has been providing transportation planning and engineering solutions since 1975. A firm grounded in service to both their clients and their community, they strive to treat others as they would like to be treated, and to exceed client expectations.

    Committed to service and collaboration, they were excited to partner with DesignFacilitator and use the Client Feedback Tool to learn more about the quality of their client services. By using a tool that systematically collects data on a numerical scale that can be merged and tracked over time, Transpo Group has the opportunity to see both a snapshot view of their client feedback and long term trends.

    Asking for feedback regularly gives Transpo Group the data they need to determine what practices or ideas lead to client satisfaction, and also identify areas where their process may need adjustment. Because the feedback surveys are tied to specific projects, they can pinpoint exactly where more attention is needed, and give their client a chance to offer positive feedback or voice any concerns that were not addressed in previous conversations. It offers clients an easy and comfortable way to offer their suggestions and their positive comments and praise.

    Transpo Group is using the overwhelmingly positive results of their feedback in a creative way. They periodically summarize their consistently great results, and place them into a chart posted directly onto their website. Additionally, testimonials and rave comments collected via the feedback process are displayed in rotation on the page’s side-bar. Now, when clients visit the firm’s website, they can view evidence that the firm is truly dedicated client service and strong relationships. (See adjacent image.)

    Learn more about how to incorporate client feedback into your marketing efforts by exploring our blog. Find tips on how to get your firm into the Top 3%  by both collecting and taking action on your feedback,  read Koontz Bryant’s Client Feedback Journal describing how they started using feedback to improve their business, or learn Who should be asking for feedback and why its important to do it in a way that gives your firm honest, valuable information.

  • Introducing Feedback to your Team

    Posted on February 14th, 2012 1 comment
    Introducing Feedback to your Team

    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:

    Dear Colleagues,

    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.

  • Koontz-Bryant, PC – Client Feedback Journal, Part 4

    Posted on October 26th, 2011 Matt No comments

    Join us as we follow Koontz-Bryant, P.C. as they use client feedback to improve their business, culture, and overall prosperity.  In the fourth installment, Martha Shotwell, Controller, describes the varied ways in which they use the feedback they collect and the benefits of an on-site consultation from DesignFacilitator staff.  Read previous entries here: Journal Entry 1, Journal Entry 2, Journal Entry 3.

    KB Logo Koontz Bryant, PC   Client Feedback Journal, Part 1

    Part 4

    When we implemented the Client Feedback Tool, we had certain expectations about how we would use the survey data.  We expected to stimulate dialogue with our clients; to identify opportunities for improvement; and to collect information about group and staff performance.  We found the program to be effective in these areas.  With an onsite visit from DesignFacilitator consultants, we were challenged to do even more with the data.

    As we reported last time, we kicked off our program with general satisfaction surveys to faithful clients, initiated by our company president.  Many of the respondents singled out individual employees for praise.  The surveys gave us an additional opportunity for a client “touch” – to thank the client for responding, to show gratitude for their kind words, to reinforce in the clients’ minds how happy they were with us – and to ask for referrals.  When we moved on to project-specific surveys initiated by project managers, the feedback became more specific.  Through this tool we discovered that a client needed to see invoice information a different way.  Another client rated us as merely “acceptable” on “scope and fees.”  This presented an opportunity for a frank discussion with the client about pricing.  Turns out she had beat us up over price and had gotten a reduced fee – which allowed no room for the extra attention to which she was accustomed.  We have had numerous occasions to chat with clients as a result of feedback.

    After we were up and running for a few months, Ryan and David from DesignFacilitator came to our office for an onsite consultation.  We were doing a good job responding to individual survey data.  However, they observed that we were not harnessing the power of the reports.  Armed with reports consolidating our company data, they demonstrated that we have a great story to tell.  Using Advanced Reporting Tools, they had produced a pie chart showing our results by performance category.  Fully 77% of the responses showed that we had exceeded expectations or better.  Our consultants recommended that we find a way to make this a part of our company narrative.  They showed us statistical reports showing averages by question category.  We also spent some time analyzing the bar graph report, to isolate particular groups who had unusual aggregate responses.  Seeing that one group, for example, always scored “exceptional” in the “scope and fees” category, for example, might be indicative that this department has set its fees too low.  We have continued to explore the advanced reporting options available to us.  For example, we have made good use of the “Tags” feature.  We can limit reports based on project type or company type, but at times a broader criterion is warranted.  As Firm Administrator, I have created a few tags on which I can filter my reports.

    To use the survey results to tell our story, we enlisted our new Marketing Director and social media guru.  Alyah wrote a news piece for our website.  Using data from the reports, she created a bar chart to illustrate our results.  She sent a “Survey says” Tweet with a link to the story, and promoted it on Facebook.  After getting clients’ permission to publish their responses, Alyah plans to include client comments on our web page.  We have also begun modifying our printed marketing materials and presentation outlines to incorporate client care as a differentiator.

    Our DesignFacilitator consultants had also advised that we promote our survey results within our company.  We have posted summaries on the company intranet, and we encourage all staff to use our great feedback to promote Koontz-Bryant.  On a large whiteboard in the breakroom, we periodically post a “Client Feedback Quote of the Day” culled from the comments.  Praise for employees by name becomes public in a low-tech, high-touch way.  This has generated some great whiteboard kudos and prompted some great conversations.

    When Ryan and David visited with us, they helped us use the Client Feedback Tool in a fuller technical capacity.  More important than that, however, they gave us some sound business and marketing advice.  In a business where the things we do can be perceived as commodities, they have helped us to position ourselves as client caretakers.

  • Koontz-Bryant, PC – Client Feedback Journal, Part 3

    Posted on August 5th, 2011 Matt No comments

    Join us as we follow Koontz-Bryant, P.C. as they begin using client feedback to improve their business, culture, and overall prosperity.  In the third installment, Martha Shotwell, Controller, describes the process of sending their first surveys, getting staff buy-in and how they put their first feedback responses to work.  Read Journal Entry 1 and Journal Entry 2.

    KB Logo Koontz Bryant, PC   Client Feedback Journal, Part 1

    Part 3

    At our last report to you, Koontz-Bryant had gone through the system setup with our implementation consultant, and we had conducted a Lunch and Learn training session with staff. We were just beginning to send surveys to clients, but did not yet have results to share.

    To jump-start our efforts with the Client Feedback Tool, Koontz-Bryant’s president, Greg Koontz, sent general satisfaction surveys to several dozen clients. These surveys were not tied to particular projects, but instead were designed to gauge clients’ overall impression of our company. To speed the process along, Greg used the Client Feedback Tool’s import feature to bring in contact and company information from Outlook. We were pleased with the results. His response rate was 42%, and feedback was very positive. 

    Of particular interest were the free-form comments people made. Where they mentioned a particular employee by name, we were quick to pass those compliments along. This gave us an opportunity to express appreciation to the employee, and to reinforce the idea that the surveys were a good thing. One of the comments related to the survey itself. Our client said, “I appreciate your use of the scale. It is a device I have not previously seen.” 

    One of the survey recipients was an institutional client for whom we have done many projects. Though we knew our relationship was a good one, this client gave us the highest mark on every measure, and added, “I will take a consultant like Koontz-Bryant any day and twice on Sundays.” This high praise spurred us to build a marketing piece about this institution and our work together, and we included a glowing client testimonial. 

    Getting individual project managers to send their surveys still seemed slow. As the “Firm Administrator,” I met with the practice leaders to identity barriers to cooperation. There seemed to be a bit of “decision paralysis” when it came to selecting the survey to use.  The Client Feedback Tool has 96 survey templates, and we had inactivated about two thirds of them. However, there were still too many to choose from.  We agreed that I would identify a few survey templates for general use. 

    Most of our project managers have begun to send surveys. However, we were stumped as to how to overcome the problem of a few people not getting on board. We talked with Mike Phillips at Design Facilitator about this. His emphatic advice was to go ahead and send surveys on their behalf.  Regardless of whether the PMs “should” do these themselves, he reasoned, the important thing is to get the feedback, and not create a lot of organizational stress about it. When I offered to send surveys on behalf of a particular group leader, he was enthusiastic. We sat down with a billing register and he chose a batch of clients to survey. If PM participation lags, this is a technique we will use with other groups.

    Though some of internal company surveys have shown us where we had opportunity for improvement, all of our client responses have been 4 (meets expectation) and above.  At first blush this looks like wonderful news, but we do have some concern that we have “cherry-picked” the recipients.  A low score, properly addressed, can be an opportunity to forge a strong bond with a client. As our PMs become more comfortable with the process, we will encourage them to send surveys encompassing the most difficult relationships, as well.

    In our next update, we’ll share our experience with an onsite consultation visit by the DesignFacilitator staff.

  • Koontz-Bryant, PC – Client Feedback Journal, Part 2

    Posted on June 23rd, 2011 Matt No comments

    Join us as we follow Koontz-Bryant, P.C. as they begin using client feedback to improve their business, culture, and overall prosperity.  In the second installment, Martha Shotwell, Controller, describes developing their feedback plan, training their staff and how they got started collecting client feedback.  Read Part 1.

    KB Logo Koontz Bryant, PC   Client Feedback Journal, Part 1

    Part 2

    When Koontz-Bryant, P.C. decided to embark upon a program to collect regular client feedback, we had some questions about getting started.  We knew that with the Client Feedback Tool we could jump in with already-written surveys, and that compilation of results was part of the program. But how would we get buy-in from staff? What was the best way to train? How would we introduce the surveys to our clients? As Mary Poppins tells her young charges, “Well begun is half done.” We felt that our success with the feedback program depended on a good roll-out.

    One of the things we liked about the Client Feedback Tool was the implementation assistance that came along with it. As a starting point, DesignFacilitator presented an outline of implementation steps that included consultation, software setup, training, and review. A pre-consultation questionnaire got us thinking about details such as our goals for feedback collection; who would be in charge of implementation; who would request feedback, and how often; who would review results and how results would be used.  With Ryan, our DesignFacilitator consultant, we scheduled some webinar meeting dates and got to work.

    Two of us at Koontz-Bryant were charged with implementation. Our Controller would be the Firm Administrator and responsible for setup, and our COO would determine when surveys should go out, encourage staff participation, and assure appropriate follow-up. In our initial online consultation, Ryan talked with us about our company and staff structure, and our thoughts based on the pre-consultation questions. He helped us think through the feedback work flow, and shared some examples of what had worked with other firms. Ryan gave us a bit of homework and challenged us to come up with an assignment for the staff who would be using the Client Feedback Tool.

    A week later, the real fun began. Our account went live and through an online meeting Ryan stepped us through the setup. He had already inserted our logo, and we selected colors for our firm branding settings. He showed us how to set up firm members and teams. Preference settings allowed us to determine default settings for notifications (what range of low/high scores should trigger an email alert?) and message defaults (messages sent to clients with the surveys). We learned how to use filters to narrow down the 96 pre-defined survey templates, and how to set up clients and projects. Over the next week, we completed setup of firm members and deactivated some of the survey templates.

    Our next step was to train the staff. We scheduled a two-hour lunch and learn webinar for all office personnel. Koontz-Bryant management had been impressed with DesignFacilitator’s “Power of Feedback” presentation, so we asked Ryan to present a fair amount of that background material. He then walked staff through the program, guiding them through the steps of requesting feedback, reviewing results, and managing their personal preferences. An open discussion at the end allowed staff to ask questions. At the end of the session, we asked staff to send a survey to someone – client or internal. A few of the staff jumped right in and sent surveys to their coworkers, and a couple of people sent them to clients. However, some employees did not respond. 

    A few days after the training, we sent a survey to everyone who attended the lunch and learn, using a training template that was already pre-established in the Client Feedback Tool. Everyone had an opportunity to see the process from the client’s perspective. More important, we gathered valuable feedback about our training process. We learned that overall our training met or exceeded expectations, the food was great, and our consultant got high marks for responsiveness and quality of presentation. We also learned that:

    • the staff was less interested in the “why” of collecting feedback than in the “how”;
    • two hours was a bit too long, even though the first half-hour was lunch; by the time we got to the “how” people were mentally tired;
    • most people could not see the details of the software projected on the screen.

    For anyone going through the process, our recommendation is to focus more on the “how”, and to find a way to set people up at multiple computers so they can see the screens.

    The Client Feedback Tool has a section for tracking followup. We followed up with each person who rated an area low, and recorded this activity in the software.

    A few weeks after the training meeting, our president, Greg, met with project managers to establish specific points in a project’s life cycle at which a survey should be sent. To increase our momentum, he also sent initial surveys to a batch of top clients.  Results are starting to come in.

    In our next update, we look forward to sharing results with you.

  • Succeeding Isn’t Cheating

    Posted on September 29th, 2010 3 comments
    Succeeding Isn't Cheating

    Do you ever wish for an easy way to be better than the competition?  How about an ethical way to “cheat” your way to being the best?

    I had a great conversation about client feedback with Lee Frederiksen, Managing Partner at Hinge Marketing.  Lee is a behavioral psychologist by education, and has helped many architects, engineers, and other professional services firms engage their clients to build their brand and markets.  During our conversation, he was reminded of a story where one group within an organization was accused of “cheating” because they kept winning performance awards.   You can read the whole story on Hinge’s Blog.  I’ve excerpted below:

    As it turns out, [the winning group] had simply adopted the practice of handing out a rating form each time they performed a service and encouraging the recipient to fill it out. This simple practice had an amazing effect. It turned an intermittent system of feedback into one that provided almost continuous feedback to the professional providing the support. In short, they knew that each interaction counted. They suddenly became more “helpful” and it showed in their evaluation ratings.

    What happened is a typical result of what we’ve seen with our clients who deploy our Client Feedback Tool within their organization.  By engaging everyone in the process of collecting feedback, everyone becomes more aware of their performance – knowing it will be measured.  By collecting feedback from clients during projects (not just after they’re done), those doing the work naturally begin to perform better for clients.

    Feedback works to change performance. Decades of well-controlled behavioral research clearly shows that it does so under the right conditions. For example, feedback has to be frequent, timely, and objective.

    So, how do you “cheat” and become better than your competitors in an unfair way?  It’s really pretty easy.  Collect feedback when you can do something about it (i.e., before the project is over).  Get feedback as soon as you’ve just performed some work, while memory of it is fresh.  Ask questions that are specific and focused on what was just delivered.  Most importantly, have the people doing the work ask for the feedback!  This is the quickest way to assure each person working for your clients is focused on the clients’ needs, and aware of his performance.

    When you have an entire firm of client-focused professionals, working to meet each client’s specific needs, there will be no contest between you and the competition.