We recently ran an event for a major client that we felt went really well. It should have. We went above and beyond in terms of sales, project scoping, project preparation, staffing, and coordination. We had our ducks in a row, and the program went off as planned.
As usual, we created an extensive wrap report showing them all they accomplished for the local Boys & Girls Club complete with quotes from their executive director. We set up a call with the client a couple weeks after the project was done to recap the program.
Our expectations, given all the hard work we put into the project, was that they would be ecstatic and would immediately talk about future projects. They were happy, and even said that this was the best project that they had ever done. Mission accomplished, right?
Not quite. We heard from them about what would have made things better. We could have outlined our communications protocol ahead of the project better than we did. We should have addressed transportation issues onsite (where to park the buses). We could have stream-lined the arrival process better than we did. Some participants felt project supplies were stretched a little thin. There were a couple more things, but you get the picture.
Hey, what’s with all the negativity given that this was the best project they had ever done (their words)? Where are our awards and future contracts?
Instead, we got something even more valuable from our client — real, honest constructive criticism. This kind of feedback is so much more valuable than a five-question online survey. Too often, businesses spend too much time patting themselves on the back for winning contracts and delivering results. They lose sight of the fact that no matter how well things go, things can always go better.
We appreciated the feedback we got even though it wasn’t what we expected going into the call. In fact, we immediately applied our learnings to our client meetings later that day and are now proactively addressing these and similar concerns in all future programs with all our clients. A desire to do better is imperative.
So, the next time your client gives you feedback on how to improve, thank them for being honest with you and take what they say to heart. Don’t spend time making excuses or contradicting their option. Listen. It’s not always easy to hear, but it could be the most valuable conversation with your client that you ever have.