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How do your clients really view your in-house creative team?

In the area of client feedback, sometimes we like to think that “no news is good news.” But I would challenge you to question that adage. Not knowing what your clients think of your team is risky management that leaves you vulnerable. If there is an opportunity to elevate your service levels or expand your capabilities, you may not know until it’s too late. And we can all probably agree that “perception is reality,” and if that perception is misguided, it needs to be addressed.

Conducting client feedback surveys can be a little unsettling as it may expose your vulnerabilities. But it’s better to own the feedback than ignore it. By knowing what your clients really think of your team—the good and the bad—your team is better positioned for a successful future.

Let’s start with the good feedback. Having documented positive feedback about your team can be very helpful when your manager or other stakeholders question your team—whether they are questioning your team’s size, work quality, value, productivity or otherwise. In addition the favorable feedback is great for team morale.

The constructive feedback can sometimes feel like a punch to the gut when it’s unexpected, but that’s not usually the scenario. Usually we know the feedback, but don’t necessarily embrace it for one reason or another. It’s important to understand the trends in the feedback—one person’s constructive feedback is typically not worth keeping you up at night. But when the same feedback comes from a wider cross-section of your business partners/clients, you need to listen and better understand the challenge and address it.

We hear of creative leaders collecting client feedback in a number of ways: after every project, after every Tier 1 project, during in-person conversations, through annual surveying and so on. Immediate feedback after select projects can be really helpful and provide tactical advice at the project and individual levels. But this leaves a gap—one that we at Cella think is important to address: overall performance across a sustained period of time. To this end, we partnered with Relationship Audits and Management (“RAM”) to create PartnerPulse.

PartnerPulse measures team performance in relation to key performance indicators such as attitude, effort, people and skills, and more. In addition, PartnerPulse asks your clients to provide feedback such as “does the creative team regularly make a positive difference in your team” and “what is the single most important thing the creative team can do to improve its performance?”

While there is immense value in the responses to the 25 questions of the survey, creative leaders receive additional value in the benchmarking aspect of the survey. In addition to receiving your team’s individual results, you also see how your team stacks up against other in-house agencies as well as external agencies—pretty powerful ammunition when you’re presenting your team’s value proposition. In addition, the results can help inform your team’s strategic priorities for the upcoming year.
At the end of the day, I hope you’ll consider PartnerPulse when designing your client feedback strategy. But most importantly, I hope you survey your clients in a formal method and create a plan to address that feedback. You and your team will be better for it.

Related article: Deliver on What Your Clients Really Want

To learn more about PartnerPulse and see a demo of the tool, please contact Cella.


Jackie Schaffer

In her role as Cella VP & General Manager, Jackie Schaffer has consulted for Fortune 500 clients with more than 400 in-house team members and for teams at mid-sized businesses, government entities and educational institutions with teams as small as four designers. Her management competencies lie in operations assessments, financial management and talent management. Prior to joining Cella, she led an international "mega-sized" creative team through an evolution of production studio to strategic partner.

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