ADVISE: Include AEC Client Feedback as Part of Your Project Processes

Jan 30 2022

Guidance for AEC Industry Firm Management and Principals
 

As a firm leader, you are responsible for developing project start-up and closeout policies and processes. Have you thought about including a client relations activity as part of your internal project process? What about including opportunities for gathering the client’s perspective? 

The easiest way to win work is from repeat and referral clients. The simplest way to do that is by ensuring your clients are happy. Including various opportunities for a “client maintenance” conversation can provide the feedback necessary to correct course throughout a project. 

Do your project managers have the tools to gather this valuable feedback? Do they deliver a consistent client experience? 

Providing a culture that makes it common to check in with clients numerous times throughout the project life cycle will ensure that your team is delivering an exceptional client experience. Project team members who consistently ask questions about the status of a project will strengthen the client/consultant relationship, leading to positioning oneself for future work.

Providing a Culture of Client Relations

Integrating consistent, proactive, and information-gathering client maintenance conversations can be essential to competitive research and winning future business. As a firm leader, you can advise your project managers to do the following:

  1. Provide your team with the tools to ask the tough questions: The most challenging part of reaching out for client feedback is knowing what to ask. A good firm leader will provide the project team with ideas of possible questions, training on how to ask information-gathering questions, and guidance on analyzing the feedback received. 

  2. Encourage your team to get personal. Getting personal is not as bad as it sounds—it can be quite fun. Before, during, and after projects there are many ways to have fun conversations. Coach your team in building client relationships by helping them find reasons and opportunities to get to know the client personally. Conversely, project managers can strengthen the client relationship by showing their personal side to the client. 

  3. Empower your project team to ask for a referral: Don’t be afraid to ask your client for their referral or a testimonial. Project managers need your permission to ask hard questions. What did the client appreciate the most from the project team? What areas could be improved? Does the client consider the project process “successful”? These questions can sometimes be daunting, but when a firm leader gives approval to find these answers, it shows that client feedback is essential. 

  4. Close the loop: Train your project team members to share the client feedback with management and your marketing and business development team. Sharing the feedback with your marketing team is crucial in ensuring that a project’s story can be told. Suppose your firm saved a client a month of time during the construction process through a unique phasing approach. If your marketing team doesn’t know about that, they will miss a chance to share a success story to attract new business. 

Why is AEC client feedback so important? Don’t take anything for granted. A proactive approach to gathering feedback from clients will give your firm a competitive advantage. Your team will appreciate time with a client that isn’t solely focused on a project. Empower them to sit down with a client over lunch or ask questions to learn more about the client’s experience. 

 

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About The Author

Keri Hammond, FSMPS, CPSM

Keri is a long-standing trailblazer in the Utah AEC industry. Clients appreciate her ability to get things done – they know she does whatever it takes, with integrity, to help them build their business. Keri is known for her leadership and diplomacy; she motivates others with positivity, trust, and unwavering support.

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