How to Improve Your Design Business By Asking Your Clients One Simple Question

View Comments by Bianca Board on 13 December 2013

Do you know what one of best ways you can improve yourself as a designer and the work you produce? 

Basically it’s by asking your biggest critics... your very own clients.

And I know... that is a really scary prospect. When the job is done and the money has passed hands, clients can become BRUTALLY honest.

In fact, when I started out, I didn’t bother following up with my clients cos there was something deep down in the pit of my stomach. I just didn’t want to face the feedback... even if the job I delivered was spot on.

Regardless of whether it is good or bad, getting feedback IS important.

It is this honest feedback that can help you thrive as a designer and as a professional running your own business. By getting honest feedback you can:

  • Identify your strengths to capitalise on.
  • Identify the weaknesses to you need to fix.
  • Learn what type of client likes you, and how to find more of them.
  • Learn things about yourself, you probably didn’t know about.

So how do you go about getting feedback from YOUR clients?

Well I’m glad you asked. Ideally you should spend five minutes after a job is completed to call your clients up and ask how things are. So for example, if you’ve designed a website for them, give them a call and say “Hey... how’s your website going?”

What if you get positive feedback?

Just asking the question in usually enough to help improve your client’s opinion of you. If the feedback is positive, then thank the client and then jump on the opportunity to ask them if they know anyone looking for a designer. 

It might seem cheeky, but trust me, most of my work has come from word of mouth and recommendations. And usually it is by asking for recommendations that you often get the ball rolling.

What if you get negative feedback?

If the feedback is negative, learn from it. None of us are perfect and sometimes you might not even be aware of your weaknesses. But if you do get negative feedback, don’t just ignore it, do something about it and make changes to the way you work to prevent that negative feedback in the future.

Finally if it’s possible or reasonable, consider amending the grievance. This can help turn a negative client into a positive one, which in turn can result in more work down the line.

However, if you’re not in the habit of calling all your clients up after you’ve completed their work, then what you may want to do is contact ALL your previous clients and ask them how you did. 

I would like to add at this point, that I’ve learnt a lot of this
from an EXCELLENT new book I’ve been reading
called ‘Feed The Startup Beast’.

If you want to take your business to the next
level and really refine your product offering,
then this is the book you NEED to read.

Buy this book on Amazon

There are two stages to this... quantitative and qualitative:

1) Quantitative Client Feedback

What is quantitative feedback? Basically it’s when you get basic and simple feedback from as many people as people. Quantitative... and as in “quantity.” Simple huh?

In fact, I recommend you do this as soon as possible. I just did a similar exercise with all of my Web123 ProPartners and the feedback was fascinating! Basically it will give you a great overview as to how well you’re doing overall.

Are you hitting the mark or missing it by a mile? This is how you find out.

The trick is to ask, via an online survey, all of your clients one nice and simple question. One which will literally take ONLY 30 seconds to answer. Like this:

“How likely are you to recommend our services to a friends or business associate?”

In fact, I sent my ProPartners a survey asking the above question and ask them to give me a score out of 10 score, with 1 being “no way hose” and 10 being “absolutely!” Then in addition to that, I gave them the opportunity to give me more information if they so wish.

Like so:

It might not look like much, but the information you receive from it is invaluable! Just use this scoring guide to see whether that client is a raving looney fan or not.

  • 1 – 6: Unhappy client (you’ve got some fences to mend)!
  • 7 – 8: Moderately satisfied (*sigh* could be better).
  • 9 - 10: HAPPY client / raving fans. :)

Once you get your answers back, you can calculate an average and see how you’re doing overall. Obviously, the higher the average score the better. But even if the score if low, it just means you have a great opportunity to fix what’s wrong and improve your business for the future.

To setup a survey for yourself I recommend you use either SurveyGizmo or SurveyMonkey. Both will do a great job of helping you setup your Quantitative Survey that can give you some invaluable information to improve your business with. 

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2) Qualitative Client Feedback

Once you’ve done the above survey, you should now have a list of clients with both positive and negative feedback.

Now it’s time to get some Qualitative Client Feedback done, which is when you get more detailed feedback from a smaller pool of people (i.e. qualitative = quality! You learn something new every day). You can do this either via a questionnaire or a phone call.

But before you do this, you need to decide if you want to pursue negative or positive feedback. Obviously, it’s better hearing from your raving fans who tell you how awesome you are, but please, carefully consider which group you wish to approach.

Getting negative feedback:

If you approach those who gave you 1 - 5 out of 10 in your earlier survey, you are more likely to learn more about your weaknesses and find out what areas you can improve upon in future jobs.

Once you start improving the holes in your business, you will naturally start to get more recommendations from your clients and get more work as a result.    

Getting positive feedback:

Meanwhile, if you approach those who give you 9 or 10 out of 10 stars, the aim is to try and learn more about your customers, who they are and why they love your service.

Why are you doing this? Simple... by learning about what makes you so great, you can relate this invaluable information in your marketing when approaching new clients.

In addition, if you find out if a particular type of clients likes your work more than other clients, you can then adjust your marketing efforts to attract more of those people.

Basically, you are using your strengths to dictate who your customers will be in the future. It’s a pretty simple model that can help you identify your niche by what your naturally good at.

And of course you can do both:

It’s a little more time consuming, but hey, it’s a great way to build on your weaknesses and capitalise on your strengths. So consider taking the time to really go the whole hog and approach a mixture of both negative and positive clients.

So, do you know what you're going to ask?

Of course when you do your Qualitative Research, you need questions to ask. 

And I’ve got this fantastic list of questions you can download now [FREE DOWNLOAD].  

Use this as a basis to help form the questions that you are going to ask YOUR clients.

And one last word of advice, when doing Qualitative Survey, you can email it to them, or do it over the phone. Personally I recommend you do it over the phone (especially if the feedback is going to be negative), as that way, they are more likely to give you in depth answers as to what went wrong.

Have you done any surveys with YOUR clients? Let me know below!

I hope this all helps! Did you have any questions, or have you had any experience surveying your own clients? Let me know below.

What do you think? Share your comments below.


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