Update: An eleventh hour reprieve means that reports of Listenback’s demise are exaggerated! Watch this space.
Two and a half years ago I set up Listenback, a totally free online tool to help architects to gather feedback from their clients.
All based around an unchanging questionnaire asking about the factors that we know from research matter most to clients, the Listenback tool attempted to simplify the process of collecting feedback and automate its tracking and interpretation.
As I tried to explain in this Listenback blog, the questionnaire and delivery tool were the beating heart of a bigger system of continuous client-centred improvement – what other sectors call market research and service design.
It excited a lot of interest for its potential to help practices to improve their marketing, business development and professional service.
Thanks to the questionnaire’s unchanging structure that allowed cross-comparison between projects regardless of building types, client types and designers, it had the potential to help define architects’ value to clients.
The profession’s inability to back up its claimed value to clients with evidence is, I think, one of its greatest weaknesses, the root cause of the race-to-the-bottom, lowest-fee commoditisation of architectural services.
Listenback was the seed idea that could have changed all of that.
I went to countless practices up and down the land explaining the concept to genuinely interested practice directors and marketing managers in an attempt to recruit partners to trial it.
Almost without exception, they were genuinely interested, affording me a proper audience.
I learnt a lot from them and updated the tool accordingly, to the point where, while it might never have been slick, it at least worked and collected potentially valuable data.
Unfortunately, despite quite a lot of follow up engagement, I never got my trial partners and so I have reluctantly come to the decision to shut it down.
The tool and its website was due to blink out of existence on 3 September 2020. Following a last-minute development, that decision has now been revoked.
NB: If you use Listenback and wish to save your feedback data, I recommend that you download it from your dashboard before that date.
I shall continue to blog about validation and verification as not just necessary components of business success but a basic tenet of professionalism. Follow me on LinkedIn