When you’ve had your nose to the grindstone designing great architecture all year, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that your business depends on delivering effortless client service.
With your business strategy for 2019 now in your sights, is it time to reassess how you manage the client experience? A good place to start is to seek meaningful feedback.
So long as you’ve followed the Listenback rules, getting client feedback opens up twenty difficult-to-ignore benefits for you and, importantly, your clients.
Some of these are blindingly obvious, and of course have been a staple of business thinking for decades. Others are more subtle but still have huge potential for your commercial success and reputation.
Seeking client feedback:
1. Differentiates you from your competitors: not many architects seek client feedback well or at all, and yet clients value it when you do. Take advantage.
2. Demonstrates you want to invest in your clients: clients come to the procurement process with certain prior beliefs about architects. Committing to trying to make their experience as good as it can be reassures them.
3. Demonstrates that you understand clients’ concerns: clients usually feel they are taking a huge risk in procuring a building when there is no money-back guarantee. Empathy for that risk convinces clients that you are on their side.
4. Improves communication: overtly making room for feedback demonstrates that you want open constructive communication, known to be critically important in complex project environments.
5. Improves client satisfaction: research seems to show that the mere act of seeking feedback makes clients rate you more highly.
Acting on feedback:
6. Pre-empts problems and smooths project management: anything that improves the client’s journey with you and their overall experience of your service will leave a good taste in the mouth.
7. Encourages clients to come back with more work: when things went smoothly and you attended to the client’s critical needs well, they are more likely to use you again.
8. Boosts your reputation: Good experiences change prior beliefs, biasing your client in your favour. They can’t help promoting you to their business contacts, building your reputation.
9. Attracts new clients and improves your win rate: your burgeoning reputation gets you noticed. The feedback data you collect can be shared in bids as robust evidence of what you are like to work with. Both put your business on a more resilient footing.
Feedback generates business intelligence and insights:
10. Informs business development strategy: analysing your benchmarking data for correlations tells you where your strengths and weaknesses are, giving you clues about where to target your business development efforts.
11. informs service/workflow improvements: opportunities to improve how your deliver your service will show up, allowing you to take advantage of them.
12. informs strategic direction: trends in your feedback scores are sensitive to strategic changes you make in your business, allowing you the agility to tweak your direction in response.
13. Improves morale, motivation and staff retention: good feedback scores, especially if they are tracking upwards, can be used to motivate staff. This helps in the bid to hold onto talent.
14. Attracts talent: client feedback will attract talent keen to prove themselves against real outcomes.
15. Informs training investment: drop-offs in feedback scores can signpost where training investment is needed or how to focus your CPD efforts. Since the factors rated in the feedback are business-critical, you can be confident that this is money well spent.
16. Guides marketing focus: shout about particularly good feedback on your website, on social media, in press releases and so on.
17. Can elicit quotable endorsements: complimentary comments captured during feedback sessions can, with permission, be published as endorsements in marketing copy.
Importantly, client feedback benefits your clients by:
18. Reassuring that you are focused on them: provided you use the Listenback feedback tool and follow the Listenback rules, your clients will be reassured that you understand their needs and speak their language.
19. Pre-empting problems: an overt, active client feedback strategy will catch problems early and nip them in the bud, leading to fewer delays, errors, and misunderstandings.
20. Building trust: points 1-19 all serve to counteract negative biases against architects, which is refreshing and builds that most precious ingredient of success: trust.
Listenback is a web-based client feedback benchmarking tool and consultancy for UK architects. We are currently looking for practices willing to partner with us to test the tool’s use and functionality.
If you are interested in participating, please get in touch with Matt Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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