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.

  • Client Success Story: Building Relational Equity

    Posted on January 21st, 2016 Ryan Suydam No comments

    Mike Pierce at The Austin Company writes about the concept of Building Relational Equity. This is a must read piece for anyone serious about understanding and improving client relationships.

    Please comment below – what are your experiences building (or losing) relational equity?

     

  • I’m sorry Mr Spock it’s not Logical, it’s Emotional

    Posted on April 9th, 2015 Sally Orcutt No comments
    I'm sorry Mr Spock it's not Logical, it's Emotional

    I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek, especially the original with Kirk and Spock.

    Like me, you likely assume your decisions and behaviors are based on a balance of sound logic and appropriate emotion – a little bit of Spock and not too much of Kirk.

    The reality, based on the neuroscience of our brains, is much more nuanced. What drives each of us to ‘do what we do’ and make the decisions we make is deeply rooted in our attitudes and perceptions, and the chemical reactions happening in our brains as we encounter different situations.

    Client Feedback Tool recently teamed up with Michelle Brown of SENTIS for a webinar ‘The Science (and Neuroscience) of Great Teams‘. Does that sound cerebral and intimidating? It wasn’t.

    Michelle provided insight into what drives human behavior, and yes that includes clients too. She explained why our perceptions so strongly influence our behaviors. And, she shared practical ideas anyone can implement to get more of the outcomes you want from any of the humans in your life.

    The neuroscience of our decisions

    I won’t give the ending away, but consider this. According to Michelle, the same flight/fight response we experience when we perceive we are in physical danger is at play when our brains perceive there is a social threat. The flip side is also true, our brains send us the same signals whether we are eating a delicious donut or receiving a positive affirmation from a member of our team or a client.

    Download this 90-minute webinar today. Watch it yourself and then share it with your team.

    Is there anything MORE important than understanding your clients?

     

  • The Science (and Neuroscience) of Great Teams

    Posted on March 20th, 2015 Ryan Suydam No comments
    The Science (and Neuroscience) of Great Teams

    I rarely feel compelled to do this but PLEASE don’t miss this webinar on Tuesday 3/24.

    Here’s why.

     

    As co-founder of a business serving AEC firms, I attend industry events all year. While I’m out there, I look for the 6 – 8 absolutely best presentations to share with you. In the last year, I’ve been to a hundred sessions delivered by industry experts. Most are good. Some are great. A few really catch my heart and mind. And then, there’s this.

    In her presentation, Michelle Brown from SENTIS revealed the science and physiology of the human brain as affected by relationships and services experiences. There’s actual science to explain why and how your clients behave, how that affects your employees, and how to drive changes that increase positive outcomes for everyone. No fluff. Real stuff.

    Does this all sound too cerebral or intimidating (it’s not). It’s just a webinar designed for technical professionals to help them better understand client relationships. People demystified. Behavioral biochemistry. Measureable outcomes and results.

    I hope you’ll go out on a limb with me. Attend this FREE webinar Tuesday, March 24th (1:00 – 2:30 pm ET). You’ll be part of an exclusive group who knows something amazing.

    Register today.

    Michelle Brown is a nationally-awarded leader and consultant who partners with successful organizations to combine neuroscience, human performance, and organizational psychology to deliver improvement in operational performance. As the field of human behavior and psychology expands with new technology and more robust science, we have more insight today than ever before on the impact leadership can have on employee engagement, how employees are more connected to organizational outcomes than we have previously thought, and why business leaders must pay as much attention to the brains within their business as they do to the bottom line. With a focus on people, Michelle has designed and delivered more than a dozen culture change initiatives across the globe, realizing measureable change in productivity, safety and employee engagement.

  • 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.

  • Go/No Go Decisions – what are the best practices?

    Posted on November 4th, 2014 Sally Orcutt No comments
    Go/No Go Decisions - what are the best practices?

     

     

    I participated in a LinkedIn Group conversation recently on best practices for using the Go/No Go process, the question was asked, “How do you go about processing Go/No Go decisions at your company?

    People agreed the single most important consideration is consistency. Beyond that, there was a strong voice for adding objectivity to the process. Every firm has Pete Pessimist and Sue Sunshine working for them. And, while they should be involved in the decision-making process, adding objectivity is important to increase win rates. Three themes emerged from that conversation that I’d like to share.

    Form or Meeting: 

    There were several different opinions on this. Size of firm and size of project seemed to play a role in the decision. For those firms that opted for meetings rather than form completion, they still use a list of questions to ensure decision makers are asking the right questions each time.

    If you use a form, keep it simple. Some firms did some detailed analytics to find the ‘Go’ and ‘No Go’ zone. However asking your team to go through this level of time investment each time will have team members resisting. If your firm does this detail, try and keep it in the background.

    Communication is Key: 

    Go No Go Decision

    Whether you use a form or have a list of questions, let them be dialogue starters not decision makers. Several firms indicated they did not have anyone complete a form. Instead, they use the form as a guide and bring their team together to have a conversation.

    Be intentional about who comes to the Go/No Go meeting. Besides the project champion, include a straight talker who will help bring up hard truths that the group may not want to hear.

    Risk(s) of Inconsistency: 

    Firms that crank out proposals without a consistent Go/No Go process reduce cost-effectiveness of their marketing budget and lower their hit rate. However, a No Go decision today should be revisited. Situations change. But, without consistency in the decision-making process, you risk wasting marketing resources (time and money) on opportunities that were losers before you started.

    Creates a time crunch that may reduce individual quality. If your marketing department feels like a hamster on a wheel, some proposals are likely to be rushed. When that happens the worst case scenario may not be that your firm does not get selected, it may be the impression left by the quality of your submittal.

    Know your Firm

    In the end, all firms operate differently. Some firms feel more comfortable with hard, quantifiable data. Others make strong decisions with anecdotal information. When making the Go/No Go decision on proposals, those engaged in the conversation feel the best practice is probably to include some of both.

  • Do you know how much your clients value your services?

    Posted on March 4th, 2014 Ryan Suydam No comments

    As the premier feedback surveying group for the professional services industry, we
    are gathering anonymous fee and rate setting strategies from firms across the
    U.S.

    By taking the following poll, you will have immediate access to the data
    gathered to help you in your fee and rate setting.

    * Required
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    Interested in a final report?
    This poll will remain open for several weeks. If you would like to have the final combined results emailed to you, please send us your email.

  • 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.

  • Haters Gonna Hate (Yeah, We All Have Those Clients)

    Posted on September 5th, 2013 Ryan Suydam No comments

    A great article in the Washington Post points to research that validates this internet axiom – Haters are Gonna Hate.

    Now, scientists have taken it upon themselves to figure out whether this is true. Do verified haters tend to hate everything else they stumble upon? Yes, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. People who tend to hate things they already know about are (surprise!) more disposed to hate things they have not yet come in contact with.

    Read on, and you’ll find that the branded “haters” seem to be pre-disposed to negative opinions in general. I talk often about “those crazy clients” because – be honest – we all have them. Our feedback research suggests about 2-3 percent of your clients just cannot be pleased, no matter what you do.

    Knowing you have a hater as a client certainly helps matters and lets you adjust course to manage them. But, is there a way to figure out if your client is going to be a challenge for you all the time?

    How many of your hardest clients take valuable time and profit out of your organization – not to mention burning out your best employees along the way?

    What if we applied this research in the business development cycle? When you go to be interviewed by the client, take time to ask questions of your own. Target some towards relevant topics (“what have other firms like us done well for you in the past?”) but be sure to include other, more conversational questions. Not only do these questions promote a personal connection and humanize you and your firm – but look for trends in their answers. Is the client consistently negative across a broad range of topics and interests? Perhaps he’ll carry that same negativity into your relationship.

    If you run into a potential “hater” – consider specifically asking for feedback after the interview. Aside from cluing you in to the client’s disposition and temperament, it may help you win the award.

    So if you think you have a hater? Add 20% to your proposal. Don’t be afraid to lose the work. Let your competition get burned out by a demanding client, lose money, and wonder why your firm has better margins and happier employees. And if you win? At least there’s a great margin to make the pain worthwhile. Then, spend extra time creating a tremendous client experience, wow him with your awesome service, and turn his frown upside down.

  • An inside look at the numbers – reducing client problems by 83%

    Posted on August 28th, 2013 Sally Orcutt No comments

    How do you measure the results collecting feedback has on your business?  We continue to hear from our clients how using our feedback process has had terrific (and sometimes unexpected) results. Anecdotally, they have shared stories about the client who said they were really pleased with their service but would rather have a phone call than emailed meeting minutes. Then there was the client who said he really didn’t want to have to go back to his boss to ask for additional fees so would they please just include in the contract ‘whatever’ they thought it would take to get the job done!

    You might say that these don’t really seem like problems – just preferences. Exactly. However, left undiscovered, each of these clients may over time feel a little less satisfied with the relationship. These clients may not have told you that these are their preferences but according to a recent ACEC poll, they often feel as though you should ‘just know’.

    Well as much as we love hearing these stories (please keep them coming) we wanted to quantify these results for our clients. We decided to dig a bit deeper and let the actual clients surveyed tell the story, from their perspective.

    We analyzed all the feedback collected over a two year period. 24% of all replies included a score below “Met Expectations.” We then selected just the cases where someone who gave a low score at least once later responded to another survey from the same person.

    We found 1,121 vendor-client relationships that had feedback collected a second time after a low score was given.

    In these relationships, the occurrence of scores below “Met Expectations” went DOWN by over 83%. In essence, those who collected feedback and got a low score were able to adjust and demonstrably improve their service to those clients.

    Would you like to eliminate 83% of your client problems?

    In addition to an overall lower rate of low scores, the overall average scores went up noticeably as well.  If we draw a line for all feedback collected before the low score occurred, and compare it to all feedback collected after, we see the ratings move from just barely meeting expectations to consistently exceeding expectations.

    When you can exceed your client’s expectations, you will keep them around – building loyalty and maximizing the value of your relationship.

    If you aren’t already asking, don’t assume your clients are telling you everything.  When you ask for feedback, you will discover opportunities to improve.  Even better, once you discover a problem, the data shows you can fix it.

    Learn more by visiting our website or contact us at:

    answers@clientfeedbacktool.com   or   866-433-7322