This post is part of our Monthly-ish Tips series.

As a trusted advisor, you give your clients real feedback

A few months ago, I wrote about how to ask for client feedback if you want real feedback, not polite feedback. (CliffsNotes version: you have to create a strong pull for critique.) I also griped about feedback requests being too focused on task rather than relationship, deferring that to another post. This is said post.

Check out the five-question survey I found by doing a Google search for something like “client feedback survey questions, consulting”:

  1. The project deliverables were of high quality, and met the expectations set forth in the statement of work.
  2. <Org name> effectively communicated project requirements and status.
  3. The consultant(s) were personable and worked well with you and your staff.
  4. The consultant(s) were skilled and/or knowledgeable in the area of expertise required for the project.
  5. <Org name> provided a high level of knowledge transfer and value to your organization.

Do you see the main issue? Four out of five items are about task and content, which is only a fraction of what trusted advisors deliver on. (Remember, a trusted advisor is much more than a trusted problem-solver.) Only #3 speaks to the relationship.

Consider not only a stronger emphasis on relationship, but a different series of measures toward that end:

  1. “I know I can count on <org name or person> to help with a wide range of issues; they are sounding boards as well as SMEs.”
  2. “<org name or person> consistently helps me figure out what our true business needs are.”
  3. “It’s clear that <org name or person> places equal emphasis on performing tasks and building relationships.”
  4. “It’s one thing to get work done; it’s another to provide a great experience in the process. <Org name or person> understands this and excels at it.”
  5. “I can count on <org name or person> to tell me what I need to hear, even when that may not be what I want to hear, and to do it in a positive and productive way.”

Consider, too, that your best option is to opt for dialogue over survey—but that’s another post.

Make It Real

This week, review your formal and informal practices for collecting client feedback. How might you improve the quality of your requests?

Learn More


Find out more about the right tool for the (feedback) job, from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or think about how applying the trust principles could transform your feedback efforts in Chapter 11 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).