Here’s a challenge for you. If you take it, you will improve your client relationships and your own capabilities. However, it takes guts to do this and I understand that most of you won’t.
1. Find an impartial colleague who you trust and who is professional.
2. Have that individual contact each of your current and past clients (or most of them). Send a letter/email letting your clients know they will be contacted.
3. Have your colleague ask these questions about you (after a professional introduction stating that you have engaged him or her to learn how to improve your service, and asking if they would prefer responses to be confidential or shared):
- What 1-3 things did they like most about your work?
- What advice would they have for you to improve — in terms of quality, process, communication, attitude, professionalism, etc.
- How do you compare to other Web professionals they might have engaged before? What are relative strengths and weaknesses?
- What do they say about you to colleagues? Why?
- Would they recommend you to colleagues?
- Would they engage you again?
- If they were going to write a marketing slogan describing your company, what might the slogan say? (Or, how do they perceive you in the market place in terms of cost, quality, and service)?
- What else do they have to say about your work?
Then compile the results and find out what you learned. Follow up with clients to thank them for participating, and ask non-defensive questions about feedback that was not labeled as confidential.
When I do this, I get more work, learn more about my strengths and weaknesses, get input about how to market my services, and build respect with my client base.