How to Get Client Feedback in a Virtual Meeting World
By Kurt Keith, PE, and Arian Bloomfield, PE – Checking in with your clients—and asking for feedback—is a vital part to a firm’s success. There are a number of ways to obtain feedback, but with the current pandemic conditions limiting the ability to meet face-to-face, we are now meeting virtually. Whether you’re kept apart by distance, weather, or a pandemic, it’s always important to focus on what’s important to your client, like ways to improve our collective efforts and process as a team.
As face time opportunities are now limited, we are striving to stay in contact, but we also want to be respectful of our client’s time. It can also be hard for many to ask for direct feedback on a video call that may result in constructive criticism face to face. They can also be ineffective due to many factors such as:
- Some clients need space and time to thoughtfully develop their responses.
- With busy schedules, some prefer to provide their feedback when it is convenient for them.
- Many clients are uncomfortable giving constructive feedback directly.
- Nearly all clients want to seek input from others in their organization prior to giving feedback.
However, given these restrictions, we have seen several options that have worked to address these concerns. Two virtual-friendly options we have had success with are email-based feedback requests and video or phone calls from either an internal or external third party.
There are some impersonal downsides to this approach, so it is important to discuss your approach with your client prior to asking for their feedback. There will never be a one-size-fits-all approach.
If you choose to use a virtual approach, there are a few key things to keep in mind in order to make this work.
- Plan ahead and communicate to clients the why, when, who, and what of your feedback plan and get their buy-in.
- Ask questions that focus on your processes and how they can be improved. Standard templates with common questions and rating options are helpful.
- Rather than one “how did we do” request for feedback at the end of larger and/or longer duration projects, plan to get feedback throughout the project at key stages. This will allow your team to make improvements throughout the project and demonstrates your team’s willingness to listen and apply the feedback, building trust with the client.
- Client preference will vary on how much feedback they want or need to give, so ask them. For starters, requesting feedback every 30 days is generally acceptable.
You made a plan and asked for feedback. Now what? This might be the most important phase of virtual feedback. Since you are not there in person communicating through body language or direct discussions, it becomes important to let your client know you heard them. Once you receive their feedback, a timely response is critical. We recommend:
- Challenging feedback – responding within 48 hours is recommended.
- Positive feedback – following up within five working days is recommended.
With either challenging or positive feedback, this opportunity gives you information about what can be improved and what can be “leaned into” on the positive side.
There are a few things that can build trust like listening to what your client tells you and then taking actions to further align your team with them. Ask, follow up, repeat…a great habit to develop in these challenging times!
Many of us would prefer to talk to our clients face to face to get feedback, but all too often this is not possible or uncomfortable for some. This is not an excuse to stop asking how your team is doing. Adapting and using technology to carry out our goals has been highly successful. Online surveys have given us some of the most thoughtful feedback, and through follow-up video calls, we have strengthened our relationships for years to come.
Curious what programs we have had success with? Drop us a line. We are happy to chat about this topic in more detail!
Kurt Keith, PE serves as the firm’s Chief Client Service Officer. As a member of the Corporate Leadership Team, he is responsible for leading the firm’s focus on client connections and relationship building that in turn lead to employee-owner growth and successful business development. In his life away from work, Kurt enjoys getting outdoors and enjoying all the beautiful places and activities accessible and available in and near the great communities we get to live and work in at Morrison-Maierle.
Arian Bloomfield, PE is an electrical engineer and the Buildings Market Group Leader, leading the structural, mechanical, electrical, fire protection, and information and technology groups across the company. He specializes in electrical design for multiple types of commercial and industrial buildings including power distribution, lighting, fire alarm, and low voltage designs. As the weather warms up, Arian can be found camping with his family and dogs.