Ten Questions to Ask Your Clients Each Year

Clients generally don’t voice their concerns with you. Instead, they tend to vote with their feet, gradually and often invisibly shifting their business to a competitor. So you need to seek feedback on a regular basis.

Some questions are not very fruitful. For example, asking if your client is “satisfied” with your work seems to me a very low bar to aspire to. If they say “yes” does it really mean anything? Asking “How can we add more value in the relationship” is also usually a dead-end question. Clients can rarely tell you how to add more value—you have to figure that out based on a deeper understanding of their priorities and needs.

These 10 questions will help you understand the state of your relationship and give you clues for how to improve it:

  1. Could you share with me your overall assessment of our relationship?
  2. If you could change or improve one thing about our relationship, what would it be?
  3. Are there any individuals in your organization with whom we should invest more time and build a better relationship with?
  4. Can you give me any suggestions for improving the amount, timing, or format of our communications to you and your organization?
  5. What issues are coming up that we ought to be aware of or thinking about for you?
  6. What are your plans for…? How are planning to deal with…? (tailor these to your client’s business and markets)
  7. What are your most important goals over the next six to 12 months?
  8. Is there anything we could improve upon or change that would make doing business with us easier?
  9. Could you give me your assessment of our team? (What have they done particularly well? What could they do better? Are there any new skills or capabilities you wish we would add to the team serving you?)
  10. Would you be willing to provide us with a referral? (and/or with a testimonial about our work for you?)

Some of my clients use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system for gaining client and customer feedback. NPS mandates just one question (actually, three, but the first one is the main one): “On a scale of 1 to 10, how enthusiastically would you recommend us to a friend or colleague?” Under NPS, only 9s and 10s are considered true promoters.

For your major clients, however, you should take the time to seek the more detailed feedback that my 10 questions require.

Lastly—Check this out: I recently read Kevin Kruse’s excellent new book, Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business. I interviewed Kevin and asked him to elaborate on some of his more contrarian ideas about leadership. You can read it in my blog, here.  

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Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah

Me and my giant snowball…

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