In business as in life, learning from our mistakes and successes is the best way to improve. As marketing consultants, the most informative feedback comes from our clients. That’s why formal project reviews are one of the best ways for marketing consultants to get better at what they do.
Post-project reviews (PPRs) also give your clients an opportunity to share their perspectives on what went right and what went wrong over the course of a project. Every client wants to be heard, and a client who knows that you value his or her feedback is more likely to appreciate your professionalism and recommend you to peers.
While it’s important to hear from your clients, you’ll also want to take an objective, internal look at your own performance and that of your team members. It may be hard to step back and objectively evaluate your own work, but doing so provides valuable lessons you can use to provide even better service on your next job.
Get Your Client’s Perceptions
Plan ahead for your project assessment by including it as the last step on your initial project timeline. Letting your clients know that they’ll have a chance to provide feedback once a job is complete gives them a chance to think through their feedback ahead of time, and demonstrates how strongly you value your client’s opinion of your work.
Once you’ve delivered your marketing product, set up a formal assessment meeting with your client. Be sure to invite all the key stakeholders in the project, such as the project manager and account manager who were involved in the job.
Your first goal is to evaluate your client’s overall level of satisfaction of your performance. Have both general and specific questions prepared, such as:
- Did you meet the client’s marketing or project goals?
- What did the client think of your process overall?
- Did you communicate effectively with the client? (Drill down to details by asking how they felt about your weekly status e-mails, meetings, the approval process, and other process specifics.)
- Is there anything the client would ask you to do differently if he or she had a chance to start over?
Next, hone in on your client’s perceptions of you and your team. Specifically, find out if the client felt that:
- His questions were answered completely
- Your team members responded to his requests in a timely manner
- Problems were resolved fully and to his satisfaction
- The quality of your work met his expectations
- There were any areas where your team fell down on the job
Ask for specific recommendations on how to improve upon your deliverables, processes or the customer service you provide. And be sure to take these suggestions to heart when it’s time to begin your next engagement.
Afterward, thank the client with an e-mail, note or gift, depending on the depth of your relationship and the size of the project. Let the client know how much you appreciate working with him and value his honest opinion.
Take a Look Inward
While your client’s feedback is extremely valuable, your own internal assessment of your work is equally important. After the wrap-up meeting with your client, take some time to meet with your own team to conduct a project review. Talk about what went right and wrong, with a goal of learning from this project and ensure 100 percent client satisfaction on your next job.
First, take a look at how you handled the financial side of the job. Did you go over the budget in any areas? If so, why? How accurate were your estimates? Did parts of the project require re-work, and if so, what was the financial impact? What could you do differently next time to ensure that your estimates more closely align with project realities?
Assess how the project grew and evolved from start to finish. Did the scope of the initiative change? If so, were you able to capture, track and bill for the additional time spent? How can you predict or account for similar scope changes when estimating for future projects?
Next, it’s time to get personal and examine the performance and service levels provided by yourself and your team. Ask your team members to help you list three things that went right with this engagement, as well as three things the team could do better on next time.
Think about what you’ve learned about project management. Were you able to book resources at the right times? Did you keep the project on schedule and deliver by deadline? If not, why? Were these factors within your control? When scheduling the next project, how can you build in extra time to address similar setbacks that might arise?
Your internal project evaluation is also a good time to spruce up any standardized template documents you consistently use. Think about the lessons you’ve learned from this engagement, and try to incorporate any new information into these documents that might help you better manage client expectations or improve your performance next time.
Finally, conclude the meeting by reviewing your client’s post-project feedback. Honestly evaluate the outcomes, both positives and negatives, and share ideas for how to avoid making the same mistakes twice. But be sure to also talk about the successes, and congratulate your team – and yourself – for a job well-done.
Writtten by Brenna Lemieux - check her out at Google+ or Twitter