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Posted by Keith Flaherty

Client Satisfaction 2020 Feedback – Communication is Key!

October 9, 2020

Each year, Hallam-ICS reaches out to our clients and partners to request feedback on our performance and their experience working with our team. We take the responses, comments and results very seriously and incorporate them into our annual Strategic Planning discussions. We also like to share the results with our clients and employees. Transparency helps lead to accountability, and as a Certified B-Corporation, transparency is part of who we are.bcorp

This is the third year that we have completed our client satisfaction survey. Our first year provided us with valuable insights and a baseline. Last year, we saw improvements in nearly all questions as our clients reinforced the concept that our business is 50% Technical and 50% Relationship, along with a heavy dose of Project Management. This year, the results largely maintained their high levels from last year with some minor changes in the scores and comments. The results this year also had me reflecting upon a marketing consultant who several years ago described Hallam-ICS as “Challenging to date, but great to marry!” More on that later in this blog.

The Survey

Our survey consists of 9 questions and an opportunity to provide comments or feedback. The table below provides a summary of our scores for the past 3 years:Survey

The 9th question is used to calculate the Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS is a widely accepted measure for customer loyalty and is calculated by asking the question “How likely is it that you would recommend Hallam-ICS to a Colleague? (0 equals very unlikely, 10 equals very likely).” The individual responses are categorized based upon the response:

  • Response of 0 – 6. These individuals are called Detractors.
  • Response of 7 – 8. These individuals are called Passives.
  • Response of 9 – 10. These individuals are called Promoters.

To determine the NPS, subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters:

((Number of Promoters – Number of Detractors) / Total Number of Responses) * 100

For example, in 2020 the company had 60 total responses with 50 Promoters, 8 Passives, and 2 Detractors. The NPS is ((50 – 2) / 60) * 100 = 80.0%. It is difficult to get benchmark data from similar companies in our industry but based upon discussions with similar companies along with some research, 80% is a very good NPS for an engineering and automation company.

Some highlights and observations from this year’s results:

  • Our survey group included a distribution of clients from:
    • Each of our office regions
    • Each of our service lines
    • Each of our key markets
  • Overall, our results are very consistent with last year. Our highest scoring questions are Responsiveness (9.5) and Considering Safety in all our Activities (9.5).
  • From 2018 to 2020, two questions that saw the biggest changes in score are:
    • Involving your team for project decisions. 9.4, up from 9.0
    • 9.5, up from 9.0.
  • We have seen consistent improvement across each of the regional offices.

Can you hear me now?

The final question in the survey asks our clients:

What do you value most about working with Hallam-ICS? (or enter your general comments here)

The responses always provide insight into what is important to our clients. In each of the three years we’ve sent out the survey, these comments always emphasize the importance of technical expertise (“great engineers”) and customer service (“easy to work with”). As you dig deeper, each year there seems to be a subtle theme that stands out. This year, Communication stood out.satisfied customer

Here are a few examples of how good communication skills can help to create a high level of client satisfaction:

Expertise coupled with friendliness and strong communication skills. Team players focused on the success of the whole project. 
In-depth knowledge within the team as well as excellent communication.Technical know-how and clear communications.
The value Hallam bring to the table is their ability to listen to their clients’ needs and adapt to meet them. Hallam execute tasks in a professional and safe manner meeting tight schedule constraints. Great project team.
They listen to the clients’ needs, feedback to them what they thought they heard and then execute on their promises. If something goes south they inform you of the situation including alternatives/ options. Very good firm to work with.

What also is clear is the impact that poor communication can have on client satisfaction. It is interesting to note that the comments from our two Detractors (unlikely to recommend Hallam-ICS) were not based upon technical performance, but rather the lack of communication and responsiveness:

It was difficult at times to get a response at all, and often it seemed as though the Hallam-ICS project manager never had enough information to provide us a deliverable, even something like a timeline or a cost estimate.

 

Since we have not received our final deliverables, I have to think it is due to the covid-19 outbreak. However, communication could improve with at least updates.

What next?

We have analyzed the results (we are engineers after all!) and shared them with our Board of Directors, senior management, and all employees. Based upon our client feedback, we will take the following actions in the coming 12 months:

Technical:

Our technical expertise is core to everything we do. Our clients hire us for the value we can bring to their business by using our knowledge and experience to solve challenging problems. In the coming year, we will:

  • Continue to build the depth and breadth of our technical capabilities through:
  • Training
  • Certification
  • Hiring
  • Improve our quality through ISO-9001 certification of our Engineering Services team. Our Arc Flash & Electrical Safety team became certified in 2019 and our Control System team will follow in 2021.

Customer Service:

  • Customer service, encompassing responsiveness, communication, and chemistry with our clients plays a big part in how our client feels about the project. Several years ago, Hallam-ICS developed a methodology for Hallam-ICS staff to follow on all projects, bringing a higher level of consistency and improving the overall client experience. We called this process CODES with each letter standing for a key element of project delivery:
CODES
  • Communication. Understanding how the customer wants to be communicated with.
  • Oversight. Defining how decisions will be made on the project.
  • Documentation. Agreeing on documentation and deliverables.
  • Expectations. Identifying the expectations of all stakeholders.
  • Schedule. Establishing key dates and milestones.

In part due to the feedback we received from our survey, we will refresh our CODES methodology and train all staff on each aspect of the process, remembering that Communication is Key!

About the author

Keith is a graduate of the University of Vermont with a BSEE and an MBA. He has been with Hallam-ICS since 1988 as an electrical engineer, manager of integration services, CFO, and CEO. He focuses the company on understanding and meeting the needs of each individual client while at the same time delivering the highest possible level of technical expertise.

Read  My Hallam Story  

About Hallam-ICS

Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and North Carolina and our projects take us world-wide. 

Topics: Inspired Engineering

Keith Flaherty

By Keith Flaherty

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October 9, 2020

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