Client Feedback Tool
  • Selling a Client Experience Strategy to Your Boss

    Posted on May 22nd, 2016 Terry Reynolds 2 comments

    It is all about increasing or decreasing.  Increasing revenue and/or decreasing costs.  Using a CX strategy to improve sales and/or decrease marketing costs. Leaders must tie CX to business results.

    Everyone wants to have the best experiences for their clients.  Some even feel that driving up their overall client satisfaction score (sometimes at all costs) is a competitive edge.  Innovative leaders understand that approach is too vague and not measureable in their world of “increasing and decreasing.” Clarity on if they love you or even what in particular they love about you will interest your executives but, they may not fund your CX initiative budget. A visionary CX strategist will tie specific business results (the ones the CEO consistently mutters about in the hallway) to her program.  Moving past tracking to a higher client satisfaction score and demonstrating how it will improve the organization’s “increasing and decreasing” will win in your next budget cycle.Terry 5.23.16

    For professional services firms an easy example of cost savings is reducing client churn. Improving the retention of your current client base saves the cost of marketing and acquiring the replacement for revenue lost. A funny thing about improving the client experience for existing clients, they spend more.  Now you have something on the “increasing” side of this equation.

    It’s not all about the client retention.  Most of our employees are technical experts in their respective practices.  They are problem solvers at their very core and want nothing more than to delight the client representatives they engage with.  Deploying a system that significantly improves a client experience improves the opportunity to delight the client and fulfill your employees.  Fulfilled happy employees stay and are 12% more productive (Anchor-The Happiness Advantage.)  To replace a mid-level employee the cost can be upwards of 150% of their annual salary. For high-level specialized employees the cost can rise to nearly 400% of their salary. Do a little math and you’ll help your executives understand how increasing employee retention will help in decreasing significant organizational costs.

    Every firm is different in what is most important in the “increasing and decreasing” game.  Find out what business results were in your last strategic plan and directly map them your CX strategy outcomes.

  • Blunt Proposal versus Positive Proposal

    Posted on August 13th, 2015 Mike Phillips No comments
    Blunt Proposal versus Positive Proposal

    I know, I’m the guy who’s always talking about why you should track your clients’ perceptions. But here’s a story I think might sound familiar. Its about a mistake we made that is probably too often made by other firms during the creation of a proposal. And, I hope it will help you from making the same mistake.

    Our firm had been building a relationship with a new prospective client for a while. We had spent time with them. We had asked questions to understand what their goals and needs really are. They had shared their concerns and challenges with us and we had guided them through how we collaborate with them to work through the challenges and to achieve their goals. We had stressed how we really cared about helping them. When we were ready to submit our proposal, our firm and the client felt confident we could help them have a positive outcome.

    Besides our submittal, the client wanted to see a proposal from the General Contractor who would work with us. So, we sat down with the General Contractor and went through everything. At the end of the meeting, I felt good about the fact we were all on the same page. They said they understood what was needed. They would be extremely helpful and would help our mutual client achieve their goals. So we asked them to preview their proposal to our client.

    I couldn’t believe it when I saw their proposal.Client Centered Focus

    What they sent us was a long list of prices for services included in the project and a very long list of what was not included. There was nothing about their understanding of the project and how they could help. It basically described the deliverables they would produce, instead of the help they would provide. Clients are hiring us to create deliverables, those are just means to an end. It is the end result they need from us. Instead of telling the client how collaborative they would be, their proposal was all about them and what they would and wouldn’t do.

    I called them and said we needed to talk. We needed to get our proposals better aligned and more focused on the client and their needs. I pulled out our proposal so I could show them what we were looking for the proposals to convey. When I looked at our proposal all I could say was, “I can’t believe it, we made the same mistake!

    It’s so easy to stay in our own heads, to look at our proposal more from our perspective than the client’s. We just do things the way we’ve always done them instead of looking at what we are intending to offer our clients. We don’t mean to. We really care about helping them achieve their goals. Our plan is to be collaborative with them. 

    But how often does the proposal they get from us say just the opposite?

    Communication can get off track with no one meaning for that to happen. That is why I believe it is so important to continue to track our clients’ perceptions over time. 

    Our research shows that the #1 thing clients want from us is an effective relationship. And what that means to them is meaningful communication and responsiveness. I didn’t say frequent communication. I said meaningful. There is a difference. At least from our clients’ perspective.

    Getting too focused on our processes happens to all of us. We get busy. The question is, do our processes let us hear from our clients in a meaningful way? A way to track that our project delivery process works for them? At Phillips, we understand that even though we communicate with our clients regularly, using a process that tracks their perceptions of that process and gives them an easy way to let us know if they would like any changes, is critical because we are so busy.

    I wanted to tell this story on myself because I think it is so important. I suspect something similar has happened to some or all of you as well.

    Download this complimentary webinar “Build Client Loyalty and Avoid Surprises”. In the webinar I’ll share how to identify each of your clients’ hot buttons. And how to tell immediately if they change. It’s easy to ensure you are always meeting or exceeding your clients’ expectations and I need not tell you of the obvious benefits that will have for your firm.

    Mike Phillips AIA, is a national speaker on the topic of building client loyalty through aligning with client perceptions. He has spoken numerous times for PSMJ, Zweig White, ROG, ACEC, and AIA. He has also been published in PSMJ and AEMA journals. Mike has been running a successful architectural firm for more than 30 years. He understands the impact on marketing, staff retention, performance, and profitability when you don’t know what your clients are thinking.

  • How Can I Turn my Project Managers Into Business Developers?

    Posted on January 28th, 2015 Ryan Suydam No comments
    How Can I Turn my Project Managers Into Business Developers?

    What an age old question. How do we create an organizational mindset among technical staff to be business developers? How do we support them, and hold them accountable? Tough questions no doubt – but a solution may be easier than you think.

    In a professional SERVICES company, the service you provide – the experience your clients have – is your brand. There is no better marketing and selling activity than taking great care of clients. If you’re like most of the industry, 85% or more of your work is from repeat clients.

    Managing expectations (asking for feedback) is a logical starting point. Anyone can do it (yes, even an engineer!). We started our company out of an architecture firm, and designed our processes and tools specifically for project managers. No one has more influence over client retention than the front-line staff. When project managers ask the right questions, at the right times, and take action on the information – each client feels valued and important.

    More critically, each client will recognize the project manager as his expert. When a client latches onto one of your PM’s as the expert, the client is much more likely to tell others about what a great expert he has. After all, the client helped create that expert by giving feedback. Word gets around, and suddenly people are asking how they can get access to the expert. Your project managers become business developers without even trying.

    Some people are never going to go out and use traditional “sales” techniques to find and develop new relationships. The “become an expert” approach not only makes these often introverted technical people feel great about their work, but it’s a natural way for them to develop existing and new business based on relationship and referrals.

    Consider this scenario:

    One of your strongest project managers has been working with a great client for a couple years. They know each other well, the work is going smoothly, and there’s no sign of trouble. Momentum keeps the relationship going with little investment, and everyone is complacent about the status quo.

    Now, introduce a dose of feedback. With a Client Feedback Tool survey, the project managers asks the client how an active project is progressing. The client responds, and raves about the work. We knew they would – it’s a good relationship. We confirmed our assumptions. But… we now have evidence that we are creating real value.

    As soon as the client responds, the response is sent to the project manager. Based on the positive results, the project manager, who would have no other “reason” to call the client, can do so. He’s following-up to thank the client for the feedback; he acknowledges that he also finds the relationship positive and valuable. And while they’re talking about successes, the project manager naturally asks the question: “Do you know anyone else we could help like this?”

    Seeking out new business opportunities is no longer an awkward call that a project manager dreads.  It’s a natural extension to an easy and positive conversation. And it comes with a built in recommendation!

    The objective of any feedback program, especially one powered primarily through electronic methods, is to initiate conversations with clients. When a client responds, don’t delay – follow-up and keep a conversation going. Celebrate successes or address challenges right away. Use the phone, meetings, and other existing communication tools to do so. When a client doesn’t respond, follow-up! Use that as a great opportunity to check in and verify they got the feedback request, and assure everything is going well.

    For many of us, starting the conversation is the hardest part. And starting conversations is really what business development is.

    How do you make project managers better business developers? Give them an easy process to start the conversations, and the insights they need to do a great job for their clients.

    You’ll have better clients (and more of them), happier project managers, and a better firm because of it.

  • Do your marketing activities match your plan?

    Posted on August 14th, 2014 Sally Orcutt No comments
    Do your marketing activities match your plan?

    Every firm is unique and has different needs related to marketing processes and measurement. In an ever changing environment, understanding your firm’s current level of sophistication and how to impact continued growth for your firm is a constant need no matter size or complexity. Everyone has to start somewhere. When your team meets to discuss its desire for growth, often the first question is, How can our marketing efforts help us achieve our goals?

    Colorful Scoops of Ice CreamIn a live 90-minute FREE webinar, Sarah Gonnella Client Feedback Tool partner and Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Full Sail Partners will help us see why this question is actually not the first question to ask. To understand how your existing marketing process can be leveraged to help you achieve your goals, Sarah suggests that the first question is, ‘what specific goals are you trying to accomplish?

    Avoid the time consuming (and costly) effort of trial and error marketing. When you attend the Top 5 Marketing Mistakes AND Steps to Avoid Them, you will learn:

    Effective marketing today is about much more than measuring hit rates. And, regardless of the number of people on your marketing team, the steps Sarah provides will help you close the gap between your existing processes and those that will let you achieve the results you (and your firm) want.

    Webinar will be held Thursday, August 21st from 1:00 – 2:30 (EDT). Space is limited to the first 100 participants. Register today to guarantee your spot.

    Full Sail Partners is a Deltek Premier Partner and 2012 Project Excellence Award Winner specializing in business consulting for project-based professional services firms seeking to use technology to improve business development and project financial management. Sarah is a past president of SMPS Atlanta and is currently serving on SMPS Atlanta’s Executive Advisory Committee and SMPS National’s Business Development Committee. She is a contributor to SMPS’s Marketer and blogger focused on educating firms on CRM best practices, technology trends and processes, and measuring social media and marketing metrics.