Measuring Client Feedback the Right Way

April 5, 2021

Does your company struggle to define and measure client feedback? It's not just people or products, but processes. For professional services companies to capture sufficient nuance to understand what’s going on with their client's expectations, they need to measure the right thing. We know feedback and voice of customer (VOC) is about client perceptions – so we can’t measure an individual’s performance. Besides, no one wants to criticize people – that’s not helpful, constructive, or comfortable for either party.

We also can’t measure the deliverable you created for the client. When you have a design review and review design feedback, you need to be there. It took you a lot of years of school and experience to be smart enough for a design review, a contract, or a prognosis. No survey will top that.

The Process

Client Savvy measures the glue between the people and the product – the process.

A process is impersonal, flexible, easy to map, adjust, and repeat.

If you fix the process, particularly if the client helps design the process so it’s HIS process, your likelihood for future success shoots up.

If we measure the right thing, the process, we need to ask process questions. We’ve found you can break the process into two broad categories – three focused on subjective, relationship metrics (Helpfulness, Responsiveness, Quality); and three based on more objective, deliverable metrics (Budget, Schedule, Accuracy).

You’ll also see overlap between the two. Quality is rather subjective – it’s more a measure of did you do the right thing. Accuracy covers how well you did the thing the right way.

Each category has a neighbor, and within these six, clients can say whatever is really on their minds. The categories can certainly be customized, but maintaining the standard categories allows for a greater level of industry analysis by our team, while also conforming to what has proven to be a successful model over the last decade.

Client Feedback Tool

Each question asked in customer feedback tool belongs to a category, and these categories help shape each set of questions you ask; assuring consistency and focus in your methodology.

Within each question, it’s important to ask only questions the client cares to answer, and to ask good questions that can actually be answered. We do not want to ask a two-part question with potentially conflicting answers. This confuses the client and impedes your ability to discover and act. The word “and” does not belong in any questions. “And” means two questions.

The categories also help keep questions focused and concise. We’ve found most questions can be asked in 12 words or less, making it even easier for your clients to engage. They don’t want to read – once they’ve done this a few times, they won’t even read the question, they’ll glance at the category, answer, and move on.

Fair and Actionable

It’s also important to design good questions that are fair and actionable. You’d never want to ask a question such as “Was the project on schedule?” That’s a knowable fact question. You know the answer without asking (at least, you should know). Instead, ask process questions where you can refine going forward, for example: “How well does our process help keep the project on schedule?” Now the evaluation is about the way you manage the schedule, rather than the actual schedule outcome. You could deliver on time but do so in a very risky way that the client finds uncomfortable. It’s important to understand any sense the client may have that you are not aligned with his goals. This type of question opens up more conversations and discoveries.

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Ryan Suydam

Ryan Suydam co-founded Client Savvy in 2004, to help firms create fierce client loyalty by designing, implementing, and measuring client experiences. He has coached nearly 700 organizations and over 30,000 professionals on the skills required to be “client savvy.”

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