It doesn’t have to.
I recently had dinner with a client while at an industry event. He’s the young leader of a regional office for a larger firm. He shared his story:
“Six hundred percent growth in just a couple years. Most of my peers would envy what we’ve done. I’m not sure my staff are as thrilled as I am, though. We’re all working hard. Many of my team feel burned out. And finding, training, and deploying new employees to help takes time. I feel like we’re always behind. Despite all the hard work (or maybe because of it), some cracks are showing. A deadline missed. A report sent without double-checking – full of errors. We certainly won’t sustain growth like this.”
His firm had recently rolled out Client Savvy’s client feedback program throughout the company, but his team hadn’t gotten plugged in yet. We talked through a plan to use feedback to address his key issues.
Over delivering on projects
Industry research shows that almost two-thirds of project managers (72%) over-deliver relative to their clients’ expectations. At first glance this sounds great. However, this ‘client delight’ typically comes at a cost. Project managers are working out of scope and charging the project with a reduction in project profitability or they (and often their team) are working extra hours to achieve that result potentially leading to, as this young leader indicated, burnout.
By implementing feedback during projects, have a clear picture of where they stand related to their client’s expectations. Our research shows that when firms request feedback from their clients regularly and the client consistently says they are ‘Meeting Expectations,’ the clients remain loyal to the firm. While it is good business practice to delight your clients occasionally, client loyalty is not dependent on your team continuously pushing harder than they need to, or than the clients expect. This allows them to dial back efforts and helps reduce burn out.
Remove the unintentional cracks
Busy teams can’t afford NOT to ask for feedback. Over one in five clients (20.2%) have at least one complaint they haven’t vocalized. This puts busy teams at even greater risk – especially challenged with key areas like responsiveness which, according to our research is the key factor in creating client loyalty. Busy teams are slow to respond, more prone to errors, and less likely to have time to react to issues when they come up.
The simple act of asking for feedback regularly does several things including a) PMs are more aware when and where additional attention is needed to keep their project on track; b) clients know they can rely on the fact they will have a chance to voice a concern even if they are uncomfortable initiating a call to discuss (remember the 20.2%?); and c) issues are less likely to grow to a proportion where they become a challenge to handle.
Integrating new team members – with confidence
Even with the smoothest transition, new team members take time to get up to speed and be integrated with your existing team. Challenges resulting from a lack of trust (either from the client and/or their own team) that they can do the job as well as the tenured employees can increase anxiety surrounding project delivery or outcomes. The result, instead of easing the burnout of team members with adding new ‘hands on deck,’ the process of integrating new team members only heightens an already tense situation.
Adding a regular feedback loop eases the transition and the anxiety of everyone involved. Your new team member can verify they’re meeting clients’ needs and see opportunities to continue to learn their preferences. Coworkers and managers see the client’s feedback and can quickly identify when and where support for their new team member is needed. More important, managers can rest easy seeing the stream of positive feedback come in related to their new team member. This increases trust rapidly, allowing peers to delegate and share the workload easily and confidently which reduces burnout.
A simple two-minute task to send a feedback request at just the right time accrues all these benefits to a busy team. The busiest teams even find help, delegating the feedback task to an administrator to execute on the PMs behalf. It need not be complicated. It shouldn’t be complicated. It was definitely a fulfilling evening. This young leader left dinner full of delicious food and fully committed to implementing this simple yet powerful management aid to keep his growing team doing just that – growing.
Client Savvy works with professional services firms to design, implement, and measure impacts of Client Experience as a strategy. Our primary objective is to help firms align client experience and customer loyalty with their existing processes. Subscribe to our weekly blog to continue to receive updates on how your firm can increase customer loyalty without having to do “one more thing.”