Common Misconceptions About Obtaining Independent Client Feedback
We know we have good client service* because 80%-85% of our business is repeat work from our clients.
This may not be a true client retention rate. Rather, it could be the percentage of revenues coming from a small group of large clients. The remaining clients may not be receiving sufficient client service and may have little or no loyalty to your firm.
Our clients will talk to us directly if something's wrong.
Your clients can and will contact you directly, especially if there are technical issues that need immediate attention. But we’ve seen time and again where issues with client service* went unaddressed because the client didn’t feel comfortable telling the PM, for example, that his/her management skills were lacking. In other instances, the client did tell the PM about needed changes in project management but things didn’t improve. Clients also report that it was just too frustrating working with a firm because multiple issues went unresolved so they persevered to the end deciding not to work with the firm again or recommend it, and noting that they would tell colleagues about their bad experience to keep them from having to endure a similar experience.
We get plenty of feedback because we have leadership reach out to our clients.
Getting client feedback independently through CFU’s services does not replace any of your current client service* activities. Whether it’s leadership or client care team members reaching out to key clients, this effort is largely for relationship building. Timely follow up getting to the nuts and bolts of the client’s experience and making immediate corrections when necessary, is a different type of relationship strengthening.
Additionally, not all clients are comfortable giving negative feedback about the firm to the firm’s principal who they may know personally. So rather than giving criticism that would be constructive but also might get someone in trouble, they water down their comments and firms don’t get the crucial information they’re looking for and need to tell them where to tighten up. Further, an internal follow-up effort is difficult to sustain due to other demands on staff’s time and it’s challenging to connect with all the relevant people on clients’ project teams.
We have a web-based process that is working for us.
The downside of web-based methods for getting client feedback is that responses are cryptic and don’t allow any probing for deeper explanations of clients’ responses. Moreover, completion rates are typically low, around 30% - 40%, vs. CFU’s completion rate via telephone interviews, which is typically between 80% - 90%.
CFU’s interviews might bother our clients.
Most of your clients will understand the value of an independent call to check in about their experience and would appreciate the opportunity to talk freely about working with your firm. No client is contacted out of the blue as you would let them know about the feedback interview while emphasizing the importance of their feedback and also introducing Customer Follow Up, Inc. as the independent organization who will be calling to interview them. Clients are always given the choice to opt out. The methodology underscores your firm’s commitment to client service* and the extra measures in place to ensure you are providing the excellent experience promised to and expected by clients.
We’re too busy with other important initiatives right now.
No doubt there will always be important initiatives underway that require your firm’s attention and resources. But more than likely, these initiatives have something to do with serving your clients better. And timely client feedback is the only way to know if the initiatives are working and actually improving your clients’ experiences.
There could be resistance from some staff.
Some project managers may be uncomfortable with anyone but them talking to their clients. Given that, successful projects with CFU usually launch with an impassioned message from the firm’s president or leadership about the firm-wide goal to be about exceptional client service* in all aspects of a project and a client’s experience. The feedback project is introduced as a new tool to gain important insights into clients’ perceptions and, when applicable, to learn where the firm may be missing the mark and how to improve. Once the project is underway, staff realize the value of the feedback and welcome the revealing insights shared by their clients. Staff see that the objective feedback obtained by CFU helps make their good team better.
A project like this will overload our staff.
Once the streamlined administrative process is established it runs smoothly behind the scenes. Firms working with CFU typically assign someone in leadership to the client care champion role to oversee the project and an administrative assistant to coordinate sending the client contact lists to CFU and distributing the completed interviews per the firm’s chosen channels.
It’s hard to justify the expense.
Firms that are growing and expanding their reputation as the result of focused client service* efforts, including obtaining independent client feedback using CFU’s services, view the activity as a prudent investment in their goal to ensure high client retention and maximize their clients’ life-time value. Getting independent client feedback strengthens client relationships. And, learning about a problem early on in a project actually saves your firm time and money by allowing you to solve the problem while it is still small and can be resolved with fewer resources and better outcomes.
* Client service refers to the sum total of all activities engaged in during a project, in addition to meeting the clients’ technical expectations for deliverables. Client service activities include, but are not limited to: approaching projects from the mindset of collaborating with clients as a team; fostering open communication; responding promptly to phone calls, issues and concerns; identifying and resolving issues effectively; communicating proactively and as per clients’ preferences.