Top Tips on Client Evaluation

Image of Alice Ackroyd, Leadership & HR Associate

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”

– Michael LeBoeuf

‘I’m glad I’m working with you!’, ‘We’ve made the right choice!’ – Wouldn’t it be great if this is what your clients said about your business?

As individuals we are all customers to some business, whether this is buying a coffee during your lunch break, paying for your home Wi-Fi, or engaging a decorator to transform your hallway. But as the customer, have you ever considered how often those experiences live up to or exceed your expectations? And, how often do those providers really understand how pleased you are with your experience?

Yes, you might be asked to complete a survey, speak to a representative or fill out a form to provide feedback but how often do you actually take the time to review your experience, and more importantly if you do, how honest are you about it?

We’ve talked previously about how important client feedback is for improving performance and overall business growth, and as we’ve now finished developing our own client evaluation process, we thought we’d share the wisdom we’ve picked up along the way with you….

 

Always ask yourself why are you gathering feedback?

When we spoke previously to Guy Letts, CEO of multi-award-winning customer feedback software CustomerSure he put it simply “if you’re asking for feedback for you, think again”.

So, before we started to develop our own evaluation process we challenged ourselves on whether our intention was to gather feedback to use to promote the business, or to evaluate if we were truly meeting our clients’ expectations. We soon realised the focus needed to be on the client and their experience with us as their feedback would be key to identifying opportunities to act swiftly to improve our service (Service Recovery) and/or fix any glitches in our delivery (Service Improvement).

 

How do you know what feedback to gather?

We all set our stall out to be unique, to be the best at what we do in our field, or to fill a niche so it’s natural for us to want to understand how well we’re doing. We could therefore be guilty of seeking feedback about things that are important to us, when really we would be better asking questions about things that are important to our clients!

Simple questions like, how we are doing, is it working for you, what have we done well, and what can we improve, will give you great insight and the opportunity to fix or improve your service.

In the coaching and development field its slightly different, because interventions are designed to change behaviour, which is quite difficult to pinpoint. But simple questions can help, such as;

What have you done or are going to do differently because of the support, or what effect has the change had on your leadership style?

 

When is the best time to ask for feedback?

 Ask for feedback when clients are most likely to want to give it!

In our quest to understand how we’re doing we can be guilty of seeking feedback when we decide we want it. Surely the better time would be when clients are most likely to want to give it, but when is that?

Well that depends, but we’d suggest identifying the critical stages in your programme of delivery and asking at the points when your client really needs you to meet their needs. Or alternatively when they’ve had opportunity to implement the support you’ve provided.

 

How should you ask for feedback?

Once you’ve decided on the best time to ask for feedback, the next step is how.

Sometimes the human touch works wonders so a brief phone call, which is respectful of your client’s time might be best. Bearing in mind you’re looking for an honest appraisal, using someone not involved in the delivery to make the call would be more appropriate.

Alternatively, sometimes a brief form with a personal message sent directly to participants following a training session will do the trick. Remember, no one ever complains about too short a feedback form!

Ultimately, we recommend using your judgement rather than relying on a rigid plan. The skill here is to listen not only to the lyrics but also the music, then you’ll have the full picture.

 

Get yourself some raving fans.

Going back to your own experience as the customer – perhaps to your less than satisfactory morning coffee. We instinctively act in one of two ways to bad experiences, we either vote with our feet not saying a word, or let people know what we think in the hope that our experience will be listened to, and our feedback acted upon with enthusiasm.

As individuals when giving feedback we are placing our trust in the provider to act. As the provider, if you are made aware of and can fix any issues, you can transcend the performance of your competitors. However, if you don’t act trust is eroded and the relationship suffers, and worst case, your clients lose faith and don’t reengage.

Our advice is to act on feedback swiftly and don’t leave people wondering why they spent time providing it, this way you’ll find yourself with customer who’ll happily write that valuable testimonial and rave about you to their family and friends!

 

Our thanks to CustomerSure who helped shape our thinking and reminded us of the real value of getting feedback from your clients.

If you would like to know more about 360 Growth Partners or how we could help you develop an effective client evaluation process, then please get in touch and let’s start the conversation