Feedback Is about your client, not you!
When we talk to professional services firms, we hear fear and concern from client-facing professionals about the feedback process. They’re afraid their clients may not think as highly of them as they think they do.
These fears are typically unfounded. If a client is dissatisfied with the service or deliverables they are receiving, they won’t be a client for long. And, if a client takes the time to give feedback, they’re providing you with an opportunity to address their concerns. Wouldn’t you like to know if your client has concerns so you can do something about them?
Client feedback, despite what you think, is not about you. Client feedback always tells you more about the client than it ever will about yourself, especially when it comes to service delivery.
If a client gives you a 3.5, 0.5 below “met expectations,” don’t get defensive, be inquisitive. Ask yourself, or the project manager, “I wonder why they gave us a 3.5?”
Proactively reach out to the client to inquire about why they gave you a 3.5. What were their expectations? How did we fail to meet those expectations? What can we do to better align moving forward?
Consider all the service professionals in your firm. While they are all delivering services to your clients, each of your clients is receiving a unique experience and has different perceptions about the experience they are receiving from your team.
While you strive to deliver a consistent client experience, it is logically impossible to do so. There are too many variables both on your side and on the client-side.
Each client evaluates their experience with their own perceptions, interpretations, and scores based on where they are, what they already know, and how they learn.
And for you and your company, it’s not about knowing that you received a client feedback score of 3.7 or an NPS (Net Promotor Score) of 9, it’s about knowing why each client gave the score they gave.
A 3.7 or a 9 doesn’t enable you to take any real action. But talking to a handful of clients about their experience, about what they loved, about what they loathed, and hearing the story behind why, informs you and your team. It enables you to empathize with distinct types of client. It forces you to engage in a conversation with those who shared their thoughts and comments about what’s going well and what isn’t.
We had one client who received a 3.9 rating, 0.1 below “met expectations,” from his best friend. He didn’t think anything was wrong, but we suggested he follow-up with his friend nonetheless. Our client learned his best friend had just taken over as head of the school board and was overseeing the construction of a new school. His friend did not know how to read blueprints and was afraid to say anything – even to his best friend.
The two got together at the construction site and went through the blueprints and the site. They were able to make a few changes to improve the facility without impacting the budget. It was a “win-win” for both parties and our client helped his friend overcome an uncomfortable situation.
Your clients want to talk to you. They want to work with you to improve their projects because you’re the one that can help them look good to their bosses, colleagues, and shareholders.
Give your client as many opportunities as necessary to give you feedback over the course of your project or relationship.
You may be interested in reading How To Develop Empathy for Clients.
If you’d like to learn how to do this, we can help.