Getting client feedback and building future opportunities

Getting client feedback and building future opportunities

A satisfying outcome for providers and consultancies

Future client relationships hinge on whether their experience, whether their first or their tenth, is satisfactory. When an engagement with a client ends or is close to completion, there is enormous benefit to finding out what went right, what went wrong, what aspects of the project and delivery were particularly well-received and what future opportunities there are to further engage with that client.

One option is to conduct your own customer satisfaction survey, but what we have found at Gatehouse ICS is that when a trusted third party conducts tailored assessments there is far greater transparency and willingness to be candid with responses.

Gatehouse has established a simple approach to ascertain customer satisfaction on behalf of all types of life science and healthcare service providers, and to assess ways to protect and broaden the relationship with that customer. At its core we have five or six simple questions that cover different aspects of the project with rating on a scale how the customer would rate the project. We then delve more deeply into the reasons for their scores.

What went wrong/what went right

When customers come back with criticism, they might range from delays to deadlines being missed. But usually this depends on how delays were communicated. Was the service provider good at communicating about delays and keeping the customer up to date? If they were, then what might have been a negative can be viewed as a positive due to good project management and communications.

Some issues are outside of a consultancy’s control, for example, if the end client had hoped for some data to support an area of research but that data just didn’t exist, then the negative outcome is due to the project and is not a reflection on the consultancy. There are always ways for providers to learn from the feedback, whether it’s the approach to a project, the style or method of interaction, problems that arose and what went well.

Building for the future

Another element Gatehouse adds to the customer satisfaction survey is to ask in what other areas a client might use a provider for other potential services. What we have found is quite often the end client doesn’t know about all the other services that are offered and available.

By running through those services with the end client and asking them how likely they are to go to the provider for other support, we can alert them to capabilities they weren’t aware of. If that client has had a positive experience with the provider on a recent project, then the door is already half open.

This seamlessly brings together customer satisfaction and key account management to ensure the service provider is not only able to reflect on what went well or could be improved with a recent project, but also how to expand on that existing business relationship.

With large pharma companies for example, projects are typically very siloed, but while the current client contact might not be involved in projects from other functions, they often are aware of an existing RFP and may be able to connect a consultancy to the right person or for other work opportunities. So, whilst on the surface, the service Gatehouse is providing is gauging customer satisfaction and gaining intelligence on the recently completed project, our engagement with the end client extends into business development for the service provider and helping them to make the right contacts for other projects and services.

For consultancies, these services have translated into insight and often more work. Examples include:

  • During an interview, the end-client shared that they had a very positive experience with the project, but they were not aware that their contact had since left the consultancy. The customer satisfaction interview alerted them to the fact that there was follow-on work that would be beneficial to them now, but they were now unsure who to contact. We were able to introduce the customer to the new relevant lead at the consultancy, enabling a second piece of work to be commissioned.
  • Another interview revealed that the consultancy was the trusted co-partner for the customer’s project work in another area. This was not known to the consultancy and so it was a very pleasant reveal from the interview.
  • During an interview with the end-client, we ran through the consultancy’s other services which spanned beyond the remit of that individual; however, based on having had a strong positive experience from their project work with the consultancy, they were happy to set up introductions to their colleagues in other areas of the business, expanding the consultancy’s reach within that company.

Client testimonials for the consultancy

As important for building future business is getting good client testimonials. During a customer satisfaction conversation with the end client, we reflect on what aspects of the project really stood out for them – whether that’s the communication, the project management, the knowledge and expertise, timely delivery, or generally just having a good, synergistic work model.

We then write these up as a testimonial, send it back to the end client for approval or for tweaking to ensure it reflects what they have told us, and provide it to the service provider for use in their marketing, pitches and proposals. These testimonials are powerful ways to demonstrate the value that they bring to clients.

Testimonials that providers can take advantage of to promote their expertise may include examples such as:

“This is the fifth project we have been able to collaborate on with Provider V. Every time they provide clear and professional work and project management, always addressing our queries in a timely manner.” – Senior HEOR Director at Global Pharma Company, commissioning a health economics model.

“Provider X guided and helped us to establish the plan necessary to deliver the objectives we desired. They have become a trusted advisor to us and have more than proven the high level of knowledge they have within the team.” - Services Manager, Commissioning service delivery

“The team at Provider Y worked seamlessly with us to ensure that key stakeholders to the research were included in the project. We have been very impressed with Provider Y’s communications, expertise and professionalism and will certainly seek to work with them on future projects.” - Director, Regulatory Consultancy

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Provider Z for our recent product strategy needs. We got an immediate sense that they worked in a similar way to us and this has proven to make achieving our objectives a smooth and easy experience. They have felt like an extended part of our team and we greatly value this.” - EU Marketing Manager, Global Healthcare Company - Commissioning a health economic evaluation paper

Service providers often have unique selling points that perhaps they weren’t aware of, even something as simple as a clear timetable of deliverables. Knowing what it is that a client appreciates about you can make all the difference not only to customer satisfaction but to highlighting your strengths and creating future opportunities.

Article co-authored by Hannah James
Hannah is a Project Manager for Gatehouse ICS. She has broad experience managing collaborative projects across their lifecycles, from business development for start-ups through to international public-private-partnerships. Hannah’s academic background is in global health and epidemiology, where she was involved in advanced statistical analyses of ongoing multi-country health improvement programmes.