Your consulting firm’s clients are happy. You know this for three reasons: they tell you, they engage your firm for follow-on work and they refer you to other prospects. (If they send you s’mores, they’re really happy!)
Could your clients be even happier, contract even more consulting projects from you and refer you more often? Probably.
You’ll know for sure and, more importantly, you’ll know how to drive client delight through the roof when you solicit feedback in the right way at the right time.
Let’s take a quick poll. [Please participate in the poll below.]
The most effective feedback protocol combines ongoing, informal feedback with (at least) two instances of formal feedback.
- On a regular cadence, ask for feedback as part of an informal conversation with your project sponsor or the decision-maker. Monthly tends to work for a long project, weekly for a high-intensity, short project.
- Roughly one-third of the way into the project, conduct a formal, standardized survey.
- At the end of the project, conduct another formal, standardized survey.
You’re probably comfortable conducting the informal, periodic check-ins with your project sponsor, and the end-of-project survey.*
Your consulting firm may be less familiar with how to structure a formal, mid-project client feedback survey. This activity gathers actionable information on how to improve the project and is scheduled roughly one-third of the way into the project, which is early enough to make changes.
Mid-project is also an opportunity to send your client another batch of cookies. (Can’t hurt, right?)
The Mid-Project Feedback Survey
Schedule a one-on-one, mid-project feedback meeting with the project’s sponsor. Optionally, schedule separate, one-on-one feedback meetings with the client’s project leader and other important contributors.
Collect feedback via a one-on-one conversation using a standardized set of questions.
Have someone not on your project team conduct the feedback session. Reasonable options include an executive assistant, your business coach, or an independent interviewer who is very familiar with your firm.
Solicit your client’s feedback using roughly 15-20 rating questions, broken into three areas:
Output/Outcome – Up to 10 questions about your client’s happiness with the content of your work. These questions will depend on the type of work your consulting firm conducts.
My firm’s projects are primarily advisory engagements; therefore, we ask for a 1-5 rating on attributes such as, “You have a clear path to achieve your Focus Areas for the trimester.”
Structure – Up to five questions about your client’s satisfaction with how you’re working together, including the approach and the team.
For example, one of the attributes we solicit a 1-5 rating on is “Being responsive when you need help.”
Value – Three questions that are rated on a 1-10 scale. The three questions are:
Overall, how do you rate the work we’ve been doing together so far?
Based on our work together so far and your sense of how our work is proceeding, how do you rate the value of this project compared to if you had tried to tackle the work using internal resources?
Based on our work together so far and your sense of how our work is proceeding, how do you rate the value of this project compared to if you had not done the project at all?
If your consulting firm receives low scores on any part of the survey or your client notes anything that warrants investigation, schedule a follow-up conversation between yourself and the person who raised the issue to collaboratively develop solutions.
Keep an open mind and always be willing to learn and grow based on feedback from clients.
Have you found collecting feedback from clients to be helpful?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.