Working as a consultant means working in a bit of a vacuum. On the upside, you’re continuously learning, you have a flexible schedule, and have numerous opportunities for growth.
On the downside, the pressure to achieve results and meet client demands is always at an all-time high.
It’s no secret that growing a successful business demands for repeat clients – who will only return if they are delighted with your services. Thus, it may seem like a no-brainer that your utmost focus should be providing exemplary consultancy services, but for some consulting firms, this is not always the case.
Most consultancy businesses focus only on tailoring their offerings to match their target market’s needs and wants. However, for your business to be successful, you must provide both exemplary services and meet market demands.
The good news is, your existing customer base possesses a wealth of information that can assist you in providing more efficient services, that solves most of their problems, increases sales, and provides you with ideas on how to attract new business.
The best way to get this information is to ask your customers direct questions, listen to their answers, and implement them when necessary.
Let’s cover what you need to be asking.
Core questions you need to ask
There are many questions to ask your customers or target audience for their feedback about your services, customer support and overall business. Here are some questions to help you get started:
- Why did you choose us to be your service provider?
- How would you rate our services? (provide rating scale)
- How did we meet or exceed your expectations?
- In what areas do we need to improve?
- Would you recommend us to friends or families?
Remember, whenever you ask for customer feedback, make sure you ask the right question, asking too many questions risks not getting any responses at all.
Moreover, you should consider offering some type of incentive for customers who complete your surveys or questionnaires. Incentives could be a discount on fees, especially if the response rate is something you desire.
How to ask your clients for feedback as a consultant
Besides hiring an external survey firm to conduct a formal focus group or poll your customers on your behalf – something that may be financially impractical, there are other ways to go about seeking feedback from clients. Below are some ideas to get you started.
Start a conversation
Getting feedback from your customers can be as simple as making a personal phone call or sending an email with questions to your customers. Although this approach may be quick and easy, it comes with some disadvantages.
This unconventional tactic to get clients’ feedback that runs the risk of the message being put on the side and in the end, lost. Moreover, asking for feedback conversationally, means you’ll use open-ended questions, which may inhibit uniformity across all the client surveys.
Lastly, you’ll need to manually organize or transform the data gathered into a useful form.
Create an online survey
Create a set of standard questions or even a standardized survey and pose it to your clients. You can go further and come up with a protected form in either a word processing application or PDF or any other form format that can be submitted through your site or even on a third-party website.
Although this formal approach will be time-consuming to create, it will enable you to provide a standardized survey to your customers.
Distribute hard copy questionnaires
You can mail a hard copy questionnaire to your customers to get their feedback on your services. However, you’ll need to include stamped self-addressed envelopes to make it easier for customers to return the survey.
Moreover, you will need to have an effective system in place to enter data into a software such as Excel or any other so you can gather the reviews and later run reports on the data.
No matter the approach, giving or receiving feedback can be very challenging and requires thought, preparation and openness to learning.
On the one hand, you need to be aware that you may not get the results you want. On the other hand, you have to listen, understand and act on the information you’ve obtained.
You can increase your chances of getting the best results in this process by encouraging your clients to provide accurate responses, listen without judgement, focus on the end goal, probe more deeply and so on.
Remember, acquiring truthful feedback is the fastest way to grow and improve the performance of your consultancy business.
Fazreen Razeek from Edarabia.com has served the digital industry for almost 10 years. He collaborates and works alongside agencies, event organizers, and suppliers to develop and execute their marketing strategies.
He is extremely passionate about education technology and also writes for various local and international publications. A graduate with High Distinction from the Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia, Fazreen holds a Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Marketing & Management.