This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.
Last week, I shared insights gained in the process of collecting client feedback on behalf of one of my clients. That got me thinking: have you asked your clients for feedback lately?
I don’t mean sending your clients a survey about how the last project went. I mean crazy high-touch stuff like flying them to your next off-site and having them actually talk with you in real-time—panel-style or more informally—about your relationship. Or slightly less crazy but still high touch: having a conversation in real-time about your relationship.
(Did your shoulders just get a little closer to your ears?)
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the consultants and advisors I work with list a multitude of reasons why they couldn’t/shouldn’t do this. (It usually rhymes with “But we don’t want to impose” or “Our relationship isn’t strong enough to make that kind of request.”)
I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the solicited clients say how much they love (1) being asked and (2) participating even more so. Think about how you’d feel if you were the one being asked:
In fact, one of my recent interviewees specifically offered at the beginning of our call how much he appreciated the opportunity to speak with me. He said that this was the first time he’d ever been asked by a big firm for his specific feedback about the quality of his relationships with the people in it. He compared this to simple queries he’d gotten before about services rendered and concluded, “This is far more interesting.”
Here’s another data point: I’ve never moderated a client panel that did anything but generate a ton of good will and just as much useful information.
If it is an imposition, well, they can always say so. Or politely decline. If you’re concerned your relationship isn’t strong enough to make the request in the first place, then all the more reason to do exactly that.
Remember, sometimes the invitation matters even more than the willingness/ability to accept it.
So … what are you waiting for?
This week, look for opportunities to invite your clients to talk about their experience of working with you. What risks might you take to engage with them in a new and different way?
Read an oldie but goodie about assessing performance in professional services, from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or brush up on how to re-engage with a client in Chapter 19 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.