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It's a competitive market out there. With consolidators gobbling up firms and others hiring salespeople to sell services, it's important to keep an edge on competition. Soliciting feedback can help. It might even point you in a strategic direction that's best for your firm.

When clients are dissatisfied, they usually won't complain to you; they will simply leave. What's more is that when that person leaves, they take 250 contacts with them (this is the average number of people each person knows). What's worse is that they may tell all of those contacts about the service you did or didn't provide them.

One of the best ways to counteract clients walking is to do some talking. Written surveys are formal and cumbersome to handle, but face time works. Schedule a meeting with a client for lunch. Or, just give them a call to ask a few questions about the work you are providing. Talking to them personally allows you to “hear” what they may not say.

Ask questions such as:

>What are your reasons for buying my product or service?
>What led you to buy from me and not from my competitors?
>What would you change about my products or services if you could?

These meetings will allow you to keep a pulse point on your service level and may provide valuable insight into what “you are doing right.” Your clients will appreciate that you value their opinions, too.

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