It also proves how important it is to get some client feedback on pretty much everything you do.
This is what happened. I did a small piece of consultancy for a client. It was a workshop, some analysis and a report.
All went well. I did the work and asked for a feedback session. The client was happy to oblige – I got the impression it was a bit of a novelty for him.
Normally I would conduct these by telephone but I was going to be passing by their offices on my way to have dinner with another client so a face-to-face meeting was arranged instead.
I never do them by email or an online form or a third-party company.
They were pleased with the work but when pressed finally admitted to two issues: –
- The report I had produced used red, amber and green markings to indicate how serious the problem was. Unfortunately, their everyday printer was black and white and, even worse, my sponsor was colour blind.
- I spent the first part of our workshop gathering key information that I couldn’t get from any other source. They would have preferred to get straight to the problem.
On the face of it two smallish issues that they weren’t overly bothered by.
I could have ignored them and pressed on but I didn’t.
- I now use a traffic light clip-art design which makes it obvious whether the red, amber and green light applies, even in black and white.
- I designed a simple form that I can send out to the sponsor before the session to gather the key information I need.
Two things from this exercise.
First my product has improved by a further two 1% marginal gains.
Secondly, the client was amazed at my attention to detail and desire to improve even in the smallest of ways. That did my rep no harm at all.
So, here’s my tip. As often as you can, after you’ve completed a piece of work arrange a client feedback session.
Do this in person or on the telephone and never by email or online questionnaire. Many won’t even fill in the form and those that do won’t tell you everything you need to know.
Encourage your client to dig deep and come up with a 1%, or more, improvement to your offering or the way it’s sold, supported or delivered.
Act on what they tell you. Change things. Tell them what you’ve done. Validate their feedback.
In a world where everybody complains how hard it is to differentiate themselves from their competition the clients know the answer. All you need to do is ask them in the right way.