Do You Seek Client Feedback? You Should.
It's very important to get Client feedback both during and after projects. This is critical information you need to learn from mistakes and continue to grow and improve as a firm.
May 2, 2023
Architects and Consultants often have a lot of projects, deadlines, and things on the go. Whether you're in the weeds, or managing a team, things are usually pretty busy. It might be hard to find time to get feedback from your clients, but it’s very important to ensure your business is operating successfully and people actually enjoy working with you.
Hearing what they have to say can help improve your process and team in a lot of different ways. Most firms operate on repeat clients and referrals. Improving your firm will also help get new clients because let's face it - it’s a pretty tight-knit community, and word spreads easily. Your clients will appreciate the fact that you’re putting time aside to listen to them and taking steps to improve, which will make working with you even better.
How can you get feedback?
It can sometimes be difficult to get honest, constructive feedback from people. There are a few different ways you can go about this.
Idea 1: In-person Working Session
This is a great opportunity for the entire team to come together and examine what worked well, and what can be improved. Of course, people need to understand that this is not an opportunity to throw people under the bus or complain. This is specifically to reflect and learn from mistakes or areas that need improvement.
Go into the meeting with a list of topics you want to cover and questions to ask so you can stay on track and not let the meeting go off the rails. Maybe even give yourself a time limit for each topic or question. That may help people give responses and not go on and on about that one time 8 months ago when an RFI response was missing a dimension and caused confusion.
Stay high level. Stay focused.
Idea 2: Online Surveys
Surveys are a good way for people to give honest feedback. They aren’t being watched by a group of people while they give their feedback, and can even be anonymous depending on the scenario and how much detail they go into. This is also a great method to get consistent and comparable feedback from clients.
Develop a survey with thoughtful questions that can result in action items and productive feedback. Keeping the survey consistent across all clients will allow you to compare apples to apples. Of course, there will be keyboard warriors, so try and decipher those responses for productive feedback.
Use a variety of questions. 1 to 2 sentence response, yes or no answers, and scales. This will keep it easy and efficient to respond to, so they’re more likely to do it if it only takes 5 - 10 minutes of their time.
Here are a few examples of questions you could ask. They are high-level, so you can compare answers easily, but there are also enough areas for them to expand and give details.
Turning Feedback Into Actionable Items
Don't let all that hard work go to waste. Now that you have gone through the effort and exercise of gathering feedback from your clients, it's time to review it so you can act on it.
If you've had an in-person meeting, review your notes from those meetings and try and dissect that feedback even further.
Here's an example. Client: "I don't think the drawings were at the right stage for tendering. There were a lot of tender RFIs".
What could this mean?
#1 Maybe the GC wasn't familiar with the in-depth scope of work or specifications, which resulted in a lot of RFIs.
#2 Maybe we should do peer reviews on our next project before we tender
? This will help us get feedback to make sure the drawing set is good to go before it's issued.
#3 Perhaps we could contribute to forming the scope of work when tendering happens.
Client feedback is critical to the success of your business. However, feedback from your consultant team is also important. Developing these solid relationships to ensure you enjoy working with each other and can depend on one another for industry knowledge and collaboration is key. Just like Clients, Architects work with a lot of repeat consultants. Make sure your firm is one that people want to work with.