In last week’s blog, a reader (type0) asked why one should use a colleague to survey clients, and whether compensation is expected.
About compensation: Yes, compensation is expected. In fact, many consulting firms make a practice out of interviewing clients of professional service firms and reporting back results and recommendations.
About whether you should do it yourself:
The short answer is that it depends. An objective colleague often can get your clients to share more information and be more blunt than if you do it yourself. Also, many IT professionals are not great at taking feedback professionally. They tend to get defensive, because they have such a personal stake in their work. And that can hurt the relationship. So an objective colleague keeps things professional.
However, if you know how to take feedback (e.g. ask open ended questions, detach yourself, direct the client to areas that interest you, never argue or defend yourself, never blame the client, be grateful, take each interview as a data point not a statistically valid survey, etc…..) then you can do it yourself. In fact, if you do, and do it professionally, you end up improving relationships more solidly than if you use an outsider.
So it is up to you and your own ability to encourage clients to give open and honest feedback, while taking tough advice like a pro.