Being a marketer, I’m naturally a “people person” (and I suspect you are, too.) Sitting at my desk working on yet another proposal or interview does not always fire that something in me that loves to be out there meeting people, shaking hands and bantering endlessly. I love to be on the front lines, talking to my network, project partners and clients. So when I was recently asked to participate in my office’s client satisfaction survey program, I jumped at the chance to converse directly with my company’s clients on our project performance.
We all know that the best marketing a firm can do is to provide great service and quality products to existing clients. Most firms get a very high volume of projects from repeat clients. Last year my company’s repeat work rate was about 75%! While colorful brochures, spot on proposals and dynamic presentations are effective in promoting your brand and winning work, there is no substitute for making your client smile after the completion of a project. On the other hand, no clever marketing campaign can rescue a bad product or a flawed customer experience.
So, how do you measure and understand your firm’s performance on that recently completed office building? You ask your client, of course! Successful survey programs today focus on “touch” – real, meaningful contact with clients that can clearly result in improved performance.
At my firm, a list of recently completed projects is generated and the President then sends a letter describing the survey to the client contacts. Within a few weeks, the designated surveyor (c’est moi!) contacts the client to set up either a phone interview or, ideally, an in-person discussion. In my experience the clients have been overwhelmingly supportive of the client satisfaction survey program and are very willing to take the time to necessary to complete the survey and offer and their perspective since they feel like someone is listening to them.
Questions on the survey range from client perceptions of our firm, to client expectations and overall performance assessment. Imagine the information a firm could glean from the following open-ended question: “If asked by another organization about our firm, what would you say?” Another portion of the survey that I’ve found very informative explores competitor and benchmark information by asking the client who she considers to be the top firms in the industry and why. Priceless.
In most cases, the entire survey takes as little as 20 minutes. The confidential information from the survey is provided to the relevant project principal as well as the appropriate office director. (By the way, it is perfectly acceptable – even preferable – to conduct these client surveys at an early stage of the process, prior to project completion. Obviously identifying and correcting issues as early as possible is ideal.)
Effective client surveying can help your companies maintain strong relationships with existing clients, provide information that enables damaged relationships to be repaired, and improve performance across the entire firm. As marketers, you likely already possess the skills and enthusiasm necessary to unlock this vital information.
Does your company conduct client surveys? Do you participate? What did I miss?