Requesting feedback from clients is nothing new to Transpo Group. Previously, we surveyed our “top” clients every couple of years and discovered what one might imagine: Our services were valued and this select group would choose to work with us again. Shocking, right? While this was certainly affirming, we decided our approach needed to be revamped because the number of clients surveyed was far too limited and the request for feedback far too infrequent.
This year, we have taken client feedback surveys to another level. We now request feedback from all of our clients on a regular basis. We survey clients at the beginning of a project, periodically throughout the project (depending on its duration), and at project completion. We even request feedback from prospective clients who asked for a proposal and, for whatever reason, elected not to contract with us. It takes a couple minutes or less to complete our surveys and most of the questions can be answered using a sliding numeric scale. Using a web-based survey tool and creating customized surveys has made it easy for us to request feedback and for our clients to provide feedback. And while it certainly does not — and should not — replace close and regular communication with a client, we find it gives clients a means to provide constructive feedback — feedback they may not otherwise provide without the invitation.
Since February 2009, we have surveyed more than 240 clients and have received feedback to nearly 700 questions. We review all responses and quickly follow-up with any client whose expectations were not met or exceeded. We have found that our clients rarely report unmet expectations — approximately 97 percent of all responses have indicated expectations were either met or exceeded. While this feedback is equally affirming, this time around we know the source is much more comprehensive and the feedback is more timely.
We have found tremendous benefits in surveying clients in this way and with this regularity. It not only demonstrates that we take client feedback seriously and seek continuously to improve, but it also has created a database of “actionable intelligence.” We now know what is most important to clients, what we might do differently next time, and in what areas we can focus our energies to meet client expectations all the more.
Bruce Haldors is president of Transpo Group, Kirkland, Wash. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.