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January 30, 2014

Sustainable Client Satisfaction - Part 2 of 2: Measurement

Thought by FFW,

In my last blog we talked about the importance of client satisfaction and in person ways to ensure that when it comes time to measure it that there won’t be any surprises. In this blog we’ll delve a little deeper into the measurement and reporting process. There are a variety of well articulated methods for measuring satisfaction.

At FFW, ours centers on combination of common sense and survey: we knit it together through a trifecta understanding of the relationship, projects protocols, and one-on-one survey. We find that this 3-tiered approach provides a well rounded view of both project engagements and the overall state of the account.

At the account level, you’ll be able to determine the effectiveness of your company structure, chain of command, and communications across departments. Where at the project level you can assess methodologies, workflow, and associated project artifacts.

Recreating the Wheel

Before we dive into our approach we should remember that there are many well documented methodologies for understanding client satisfaction. Organizations like Net Promoter approach measurement through a complex system which rates loyalty of the relationship. Qualtrics ties the assessment to retention, loyalty, and repeat purchase.

There are many great methods, yet not many of them consider the specifics of the relationship when it comes to varying cultures, across an array of industries throughout a global marketplace. We’ve designed ours to focus on our industry - professional services - which in itself means our qualitative and quantitative data are going to be different from another industry.

We borrow from other methods and combine that with steps that work for our clients and our business. Focusing measurement on how well you know your client and the proof of day to day delivery become a generic method for understanding satisfaction.

Before you get to measurement - don’t forget relationship

In my last blog we discussed the importance of relationship. In our world - how you related to your customer, no matter whether you are a B2B or B2C business is critical. To recap, establishing a solid relationship creates a baseline of trust.

Once you can trust each other, you can assume any situation will be resolved to the best of your ability, as quickly as you can, and as efficiently as physically possible. Knowing someone has your back eases your mind and keeps your state positive. When complications occur within projects, instead of an assumption of fault, the focus can be placed on problem solving not placing blame.

At the end of our day, we enjoy pleasant interactions with successful deliveries. This is the end goal for all our relationships. In order to assess, sit down with the project manager and try to understand the depth of the relationship. Have they met in person, have they had a lunch together? What do they really know about the client? 

Project details count - cross your t’s and dot your i’s

A successful project is one that informs a client daily on what to expect. This information should be presented through daily scrums or weekly status reports. Information should be pertinent to due dates, risk assessment, current open issues and a plan for resolution. Setting expectations is an important part of client management and can be done through documentation, emails and phone calls.

At the end of every project, reviewing daily scrum notes and weekly status reports will show how informed the client was and the level of transparency we shared. 

Survey and measure

Surveying can obviously be done in an automated way. At FFW we like to make a personal call to our clients to not only build on relationship, but to learn and understand the idiosyncrasies of the answers that outbound electronic surveys normally fail to capture.

It goes without saying that the interviewer should be a neutral party in the process. Ie., not the project manager that just delivered the recent project. Neutrality is important. Here are some samples of our typical post delivery survey questions that we like to ask:

  1. Overall, were you satisfied with the experience?
  2. Did we live up to your expectation?
  3. How can we improve our services?
  4. Would you recommend us?
  5. Would you hire us for your next project?
  6. How would you rate your experience on a scale of 1-5. Five being excellent.

Keep the interview short, allocate for a 30 minute discussion.

Rating and assessing - making sense of the data

We apply a simple 1-5 rating on each of the above categories, all weighted equally. Following your assessment you should consider how to improve or expand the relationship, is the account/client being managed properly, and is the project manager a right fit for this client. Track the results on a satisfaction dashboard that illustrates overall client satisfaction.

The company goal should be a satisfaction score of 90%+. Anything less than that means you’ve got some thinking to do. Its also good to let your client, and importantly your teams, know the findings and next steps. This will help ensure that feedback is absorbed and integrated; and that your client feels heard in the process - with a well established relationship - sometimes all that’s necessary is to know you’ve been heard.