The importance of client feedback for your consultancy
Getting feedback from your clients, and acting on it, should be standard elements of your consultancy’s engagement management practices.
Dom Moorhouse is one of our Growth Experts and built his consultancy, Moorhouse, to a valuation of c.£20m in five years. He is a real advocate of a QMS-based approach and has written a very useful article about why and how to use client feedback to benefit your consultancy.
What I particularly like about this article is how well client feedback is contextualised and connected as part of an overall QMS framework. There are a number of simple but important ideas here, for example, ensuring that an independent person outside of the project team reaches out to the client at the outset to set an expectation that they will be back to discuss the success of the project.
….One of the reasons we have several experts on our panel of advisors at The Consultancy Growth Network is that we won’t always agree with each other. And that’s important for me because it gives our community the opportunity to hear several points of view.
And it is on this point about involving someone from outside a project team to collect client feedback that I do not always agree with!
I am an advocate of creating what I call adult, transparent cultures. So my preference would be for a client to deliver their feedback directly to the team to avoid any misinterpretation, create the space for a conversation and avoid any misunderstanding. There can also be a tendency for clients to exaggerate failings when speaking to someone who wasn’t involved, perhaps where they have an alternative agenda. Providing feedback directly should typically minimise any untruths or exaggeration. I want to point out that this approach depends on the culture of the client organisation as it may be too high a standard to uphold, and so should be discussed with them as an option at the outset.
Dom’s article also raises the question – how high should the bar be when setting your objectives? Is ‘expectations met’ a high enough bar to create advocacy in your clients? Delivery is clearly important but how the client experiences your team is also important. At my consulting firm, clients used to comment about wanting to be part of the Blue Sky culture. In fact ‘I need my team to be Blue Sky’d’ became a familiar request. It was as much about energy, openness, curiosity and drive as it was about executing the project.
Finally, I would add that what questions you ask really matters. NPS is the most well known but CES is critically important and proven to be a greater predictor of repeat spend. CES is the Customer Effort Score and comes from asking the question: “On a scale of 1-10 how easy were we to do business with?”.
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