Driving success through feedback

Oct 25, 2020

Clients appreciate the opportunity to sit down, free from distraction, and candidly discuss what is going well and where there is room for improvement.

At Olsson, we work purposefully to keep clients with us for the long haul. Our firm-wide commitment to putting the needs of clients first consistently turns new customers into long-term partners, a fact borne out by our repeat-business rate of 94 percent.

Many variables factor into our success at building solid client relationships. The list includes timely deliverables, quality projects, the expertise of our employees, and our ability to truly understand the needs of the customer. Client feedback is vital to that last factor. Olsson long ago broke the mold of the everyday survey to focus on the deeper qualitative feedback a one-on-one discussion can provide. We call it our Client Experience program.

For more than 20 years, Olsson has focused at least one employee specifically on client experience. Today, we employ three full-timers who listen to, understand, and bring the voice of our clients to our technical staff. Over those years, we have seen how our client experience process helps set up our projects for success.

We typically engage with clients throughout the life of a project. Mid-project check-ins make sure the expectations set forth at the beginning still make sense or whether they need adjustment. Have opinions changed? Has the process gone differently than anticipated? Are we delivering on the promise we made when the partnership began?

Ultimately, we want to know what ways the client’s experience with Olsson can improve. By the same token, we also want to know in what ways we have excelled so we can further emulate high performance and duplicate successful outcomes.

Frankly, clients are blown away by the process.

“I like that you’re taking this time talking with me as a client representative to ask how you’re doing. That’s very good. That’s how you get better,” an Olsson transportation client told a member of our Client Experience staff.

Clients appreciate the opportunity to sit down, free from distraction, and candidly discuss what is going well and where there is room for improvement. Time and again, these discussions have shined the light on talented employees, sparked internal discussions for process improvement, and ultimately strengthened relationships.

Because of the trust the Client Experience team builds within the walls of Olsson, our employees trust the process. They appreciate the open and honest way feedback is delivered, and they use the information to maximize their potential and grow as professionals. At Olsson, our number one tenet is “We exist for employees, first and foremost.” Client Experience helps us set up our employees for success so they can embody our second tenet: “Our employees put our clients’ needs first.”

“It is valuable for Olsson employees to receive these client visit reports. We may think we already know our clients well, but our client experience team members are able to dig deeper and gather feedback that allows us to understand where we need to make improvements. Of course, positive feedback about how great we are doing is always nice to hear but the real value in this is when we receive constructive criticism. It can be humbling but that is how we continue to grow and become better,” an Olsson team leader said.

I’d like to emphasize that our commitment to excellent client service is not something our employees relegate to the Client Experience team. Everyone at Olsson understands and accepts the responsibility to deliver great client experience. And it’s something our clients have come to expect from us.

Stacy Clouse is director of client experience at Olsson. Contact her at sclouse@olsson.com.

Click here for this week's issue of The Zweig Letter.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.