As we all struggle with the new business environment driven by Covid-19, one thing is clear - you must do all you can to retain, if not grow, your current client relationships. This is particularly important if you’ve been working on a contract that’s due to expire before things settle into the new normal. If you’re faced with a rebid to keep that client, you have more reasons than ever to do all it might take to win.
At The Artemis Partnership, if we hear from a client that a rebid is imminent, here’s the first question we ask: Have you done a client satisfaction survey? That is, do you REALLY know what they think of you after having worked with you?
Why Conduct a Survey?
In today’s competitive and nearly chaotic corporate environment, companies will ask a lot from their providers, especially during a rebid. They will expect faster, better and more efficient work than before. That means that your firm needs to demonstrate its competitive advantage in a multitude of ways, including client service.
Conducting a survey will provide your organization with new information that will help immeasurably in a rebid scenario. While you often go into a rebid with assumptions, survey results will confirm or reinforce new information to make your rebid stronger. When your firm conducts client surveys, you demonstrate to your clients that you care about the relationship and are open to ways to improve it.
It’s All About Timing
Feedback is vital. But asking for it only when notified that a current relationship is going to RFP might be too late.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when gathering feedback is not conducting regular client surveys. We tell our clients to send out the survey well before a rebid, and allow time to implement changes before going through the rebid process.
As far as frequency goes, if you have a retainer client, conduct surveys each year, and give your client plenty of lead time to plan for it. Twice a year might even be better. Pair an annual, formal survey, with a half-year briefer, but structured, check-in. When you are planning a survey for a project-based client, send the survey at the conclusion of the project. (For longer projects, check-ins at logical mileposts can make sense.) This also gives your firm another communication touch point following the project to propose the next opportunity to engage with them again.
What Should You Ask in the Survey?
It’s not enough to send out a survey, the questions you include need to be carefully worded and chosen to deliver feedback that matters and can impact your performance, and ultimately their satisfaction. Avoid yes and no responses, and leave room for open commentary.
An important question to ask is “Did we meet, exceed, or fall short of expectations?” Surveys should also include questions about what your organization did well and what could be improved, as well as the quality of the work, quality of the team, and value compared to cost.
Finally, once your client surveys are completed, review findings with your teams and create action plans to put the feedback into motion. A client survey can be one of your most helpful tools when used the right way, but could backfire if your client doesn’t see their feedback used meaningfully.
The Artemis Partnership can help your organization create, conduct and interpret effective client surveys to positively impact this year’s results.
- Bob Wiesner, Managing Partner, The Americas