Client Feedback Tool
  • When is a door not a door…when it’s ajar

    Posted on April 10th, 2014 Sally Orcutt No comments


    When is a door not a door … when it’s ajar.

    I still remember my grandmother telling me this one more than 40 years ago. I believe I remember it because I didn’t see it right away. But once I did, it made perfect sense and I felt the joy of discovering the hidden meaning.

    When is client feedback not really client feedback … when it’s not about the CLIENT.

    If a firm is asking their clients for information, it should be “about the client.” This means putting the client first in how you ask. The difference impacts the clients’ answers, and how you respond going forward.

    5 Ways to know if you’re getting “client feedback”:

    1. Client responses change your process. Client responses should have the ability to impact how you serve them. If you can’t take specific action to a question answered, don’t ask!
    2. The request benefits the client. The client receiving the feedback request must see the value (to them) of responding.
    3. It’s not an autopsy. Requests made during the project while there is still an opportunity for their responses to be acted upon drive participation from your clients, and gives you time to take action when it matters most.
    4. It can be acted upon. Your client is responding to the person that has the ability to act on their request. No one else can fix the project other than the people working on it. Keep them involved.
    5. Value added – not time waster. Don’t throw away any questions on ‘knowable’ information. “Was the project on schedule?” That question is one you should already know the answer to and asking makes you sound like you don’t know something you really should. Focus on areas that will benefit the client and that your firm has the ability to influence.

    Discovering hidden meanings in life is a universal delight. Effective client feedback is a great way to uncover what you didn’t know, simply by asking and asking well.

    Live Webinar: Ryan Suydam, co-founder of Client Feedback Tool and industry expert on understanding client expectations will share 10 case studies detailing the impact of real feedback on the bottom line of the clients involved. You will learn how they discovered the hidden, and turned that insight into real dollars. Register now for this 45-minute webinar to be held Thursday, April 24th at noon (EST). Click here to register. You will receive a login confirmation.

    Client Feedback Tool is a recognized expert in the feedback business, particular for the A/E/C industry. The company was founded as an extension of an architectural firm that realized if they just had a richer understanding of what their clients valued, life would be so much easier. That said, we share with you the expertise that has come through the hard knocks of learning what feedback is (and is not).

  • “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

    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

  • SMPS Build Business 2013 Recap

    Posted on August 8th, 2013 Ryan Suydam No comments
    SMPS Build Business 2013 Recap

    SMPS Build Business is always a fun event and last week’s annual gathering of marketers from the AEC industry was no exception. Hundreds of creative minds converged at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin in Orlando to share ideas, promote best practices, be inspired by some great speakers, and provide peer support to each other.

    Keynote speaker Dan Clark had a crowd of hundreds bounding between laughter and tears, as he encouraged everyone to stretch themselves and be their best right now and every moment. Dan reminded us to always carry with us our education, our character, our convictions, and our legacy.

    The annual SMPS Gala and Awards Ceremony provided a night of fun celebrating the achievements of members and affiliated companies, while also honoring key movers who moved on this year. I personally enjoyed seeing so many firms recognized for excellence in their craft.

    I had an opportunity to present a breakout session The Power of Feedback: Quality Driven Relationships to a nearly full room. The crowd was engaging and shared stories from their own experiences. Many were surprised how few professional services firms have a formal client feedback program (5%), and based on the hands raised in the room, those numbers were close to what our own group experienced.

    We left the room with a clearer understanding of the higher call we each have to not only practice our craft, but to do so in a way that is sensitive to each client’s unique needs and expectations. Creating exceptional client experiences is a key part of Dreaming Big – the overall theme of the conference.

    We also had a presence in the exhibition hall, and based on the buzz I can humbly (with pride?) say that we stole the show. One of our staffers created an amazing exhibit – the crazy big orange barrel monster pictured here.

    Towering Over the Exhibit Hall - The Responsinator

    Towering Over the Exhibit Hall – The Responsinator

    Rather than contriving a name for the beast, we had a naming contest. Of course, a conference full of professional marketers came up with a fantastic list, and choosing a winner proved difficult.

    Greg Dimech from Faithful+Gould came up with the winning name: “The Responsinator!” However, a late entry  by Jeff Kale from Ulteig would have challenged Greg. Jeff’s near-winning suggestion: “Coneman the Barrelbarian.” I knew the SMPS crowd would come up with better ideas than we ever could.

    Other entries included Highway Harry, Road Rage Randy, Conely, Ernie, Spike the Barrel, Felix Feeder, Minion!, Rodolpho (one of us loved that one), Stax, Big O’ Barrel Bob, Crunchy, Fred (a jab at Fred Redding – our Director of Business Development?), and Terrance. Have a favorite or an idea of your own? Post in the comments below.

    As always, Build Business was a great opportunity to connect with peers, network, discover new business opportunities, and have a lot of fun. For those who have never been, I hope you’ll sign up for the 2014 conference so we can meet next year in San Antonio!


  • 2011 Best Firms to Work for Summit

    Posted on September 28th, 2011 Matt No comments

    The 2011 Best Firms to Work for Summit, presented by ZweigWhite, will be held September 29-30 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel.  This two-day conference will cover topics such as globalization, intergenerational dynamics, motivating and inspiring commitment, recruiting and retaining great teams, diversification strategies, and staffing and cash flow.    

    If you’re attending this event, please join Mike Phillips, Founder of DesignFacilitator, for his Thursday, September 29 2:00pm presentation: Using Strategic Feedback to Enhance Staff Performance and Retention.

    For more information on the event visit

  • Project Delivery – SHAZAM!

    Posted on September 15th, 2011 No comments

    Shazam! An exclamation we’ve all heard – but most of us (myself included until today) probably don’t know the origin. In 1973 Marvel Comics created a character who, upon shouting this word, became Captain America. Shazam has many meanings, one of which is this:

     S   The wisdom of Solomon
     H   The strength of Hercules
     A   The stamina of Atlas
     Z   The power of Zeus
     A   The courage of Achilles
     M   The speed of Mercury

    Now what does Shazam! have to do with project delivery?  Well, who wouldn’t want a little Shazam! in their projects?  Wisdom, strength, stamina, power, courage, and speed – what if we could purposefully and systematically introduce a little of these on every project we touched?

    Don’t go into your next project scheduling meeting and shout Shazam! while wearing a cape (though if you do, please let me know how it goes).  Instead, learn what some thought leaders in the A/E/C industry have been doing to bring about real, meaningful, and valuable change to entrenched project delivery methods – with results that have Shazam! impacts for everyone involved.

    In 2003 DesignFacilitator grew out of a small A/I firm looking for ways to do things better.  We developed a body of knowledge using client feedback to help project delivery firms continuously improve.  As we encountered more and more organizations who were looking for ways to do things better, with better results, and with better value for both clients and themselves, we began to find other thought leaders doing different, but equally amazing things.

    One group leading the charge with a big dose of Shazam! is the Lean Construction Institute.  Don’t let the name fool you – they spend as much focus on the design and engineering processes as they do construction.   The lean movement takes the many lessons learned in manufacturing (as pioneered by Toyota) and other industries, and applies them to every day projects.  This amazingly innovative and yet necessarily practical group of people continue to discuss, promote, and operate design and construction processes that cut costs and schedule by huge margins, while increasing product quality and consistency.  And they do all this with a keen focus on maximizing value to the clients.

    For the last year, DesignFacilitator has sponsored LCI and been actively involved in both their national Congress and many regional events.  If you are not yet aware of Lean Construction, or the ideas behind Continuous Improvement – I invite you to join us October 3-7th in Pasadena, CA at the 2011 LCI National Congress.   An introductory day outlines the key concepts of Lean, followed by two days of real-world case studies from architects, engineers,  contractors, and owners; followed by a fourth day of specialized break-out sessions.

    DesignFacilitator and LCI co-sponsor Newforma will be hosting a 3-hour breakout session on Friday, October 7th to discuss real-world software tools that are helping firms around the world bring a little Shazam! to their projects.  You’ll hear from actual users and be able to participate in brainstorming sessions to help define a “state of the industry” approach for innovative project delivery.  We will demonstrate our Client Feedback Tool and how the process of Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) helps everyone in your organization constantly adjust to meet client expectations.  Newforma will demonstrate their Project Center and highlight the value opportunities found in Project Information Management (PIM).

    If you are able to join us, please register here – admission is free to Congress attendees (register separately for the Congress here).

    Those who can’t make the trip can’t afford to miss this required reading, and learn how a little Shazam! can change your project delivery for the better.