Ever work with leaders or technical staff who tell you, “We don’t need to interview our clients! We already know what they think about us.” Having heard that more times than we can count over our many years in the industry, we can tell you with all certainty, they don’t know everything their clients think of them!


For one thing, we believe it’s just as important to learn what your clients love about you just as much as it is to learn where they want you to improve. So often leaders and technical staff think that interviewing clients is only about discovering what you’re doing wrong. But really, everyone always needs to improve—you are no different than your competition in that regard. What’s more important for you to discover is where your firm excels. What better way to learn what your firm does differently or better than other firms than to ask them? Why not learn your differentiators directly from the ones who know what they are—your clients? Isn’t the best way to learn what sets you apart, is to ask the people who select you over and over again for their projects?


Our solution and recommendation are to bite the bullet and persuade your leadership on the benefits of conducting an in-depth Client Perception Survey. It will give your firm a benchmark of where you excel and where you need to improve. A past SMPS article said some estimates say it costs six to eight times more to obtain a new client than it does to keep one. One study reports that clients change consultants due to dissatisfaction with the deliverable or product only 14% of the time. However, an amazing 68% of the time, they change due to poor service or ill treatment from their consultant. Based on these statistics it makes sense out of pure economics that we should be willing to ask your clients their opinions of your work and staff. If you have never asked your clients how they feel about your work, then you’ll never know how they feel when they do or do not select you for their next project. And then it may be too late to ask.


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About The Author

Stephanie Craft, MBA

Stephanie Craft, MBA, has worked in the A/E/C industry for more than 30 years. Her marketing strengths lie in researching and opening new doors for technical firms by getting directly to decision-makers and influencers, and obtaining and using client feedback to help firms differentiate themselves and strengthen client loyalty through targeted strategic efforts. She also works with firm leadership to evaluate in-house marketing and business development efforts to optimize staff processes and procedures. Stephanie has been a featured speaker at many AEC professional society meetings and has been selected “Chapter President of the Year” twice by the national Society for Marketing Professional Services for her management expertise serving as President of the Utah and Sacramento Chapters.

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