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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.
    Truth - 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 tell us if something is wrong.
    Truth - 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.
  • We get plenty of feedback because we have leadership reach out to our clients.
    Truth - Getting client feedback independently through CFU’s services does not replace any of your current client service* activities or leadership personally reaching out to key clients. Those ongoing efforts to strengthen relationships are necessary. But a timely check in mid-project to learn how a project is going and having the opportunity to address a problematic situation immediately is a different type of relationship strengthening. When talking with someone independent of your firm, clients are predictably more candid and less likely to hold back when they have a criticism. Moreover, an internal follow-up effort is difficult to sustain due to other demands on staff’s time and it is time consuming to connect with all the relevant stakeholders on clients’ project teams.
  • We have a web-based process that is working for us.
    Truth - The downside of web-based methods is that responses are cryptic and don’t allow for probing to get clearer explanations of clients’ responses. Moreover, completion rates are typically lower and clients who want to remain anonymous may be concerned that they won’t be.
  • CFU’s interviews might bother our clients.
    Truth - 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 your clients.
  • We’re too busy with other important initiatives right now.
    Truth - No doubt there will always be important initiatives underway that require your firm’s attention and resources. But more than likely, these initiatives have nothing 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.
    Truth - Some project managers may be uncomfortable with anyone talking to their client contacts but them. Given that, successful projects with CFU usually launch with an impassioned message from the firm’s president about the firm-wide goal to be about exceptional client service* in all aspects of a project and a client’s experience. CFU’s 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 clients. Staff see that the objective feedback obtained by CFU helps make their good team better.
  • It’s hard to justify the expense.
    Truth - Firms that are growing and bolstering 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 goals to ensure high client retention and maximize their clients’ life-time value. Learning about a client’s 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.

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