Designing Questionnaires For Clients

Osmosis Support posted this on questionnaires

Whether you’re qualifying new leads, starting new client projects, or finalizing ongoing projects, client communication is key. Keeping client communications organized is important for providing the best support: without questionnaire software, ticketing systems, CRM software, and the like, information gets lost or delayed, leading to frustration and confusion between client and vendor.

Qualifying leads and bringing on new clients exhibit special challenges - these require mapping a client’s needs map onto what a company can provide, which can present fascinating communication challenges. When you first start discussions with a client, you need to approach this with some open-ended questions. For instance, you can get a lot of sales value from asking if they’re 100% satisfied with their current solution. You also want to find out budget and contact information early, which lets you research leads as they come.

Well-thought out questionnaires allow you to provide value to your clients before a project event starts, by helping them think through their needs and educating them on the problems they will encounter in your industry. A client may get value from handling accessibility or security issues, but they may not be aware of these until you begin discussions with them. If you introduce them to a novel issue, it allows you to establish yourself as an expert while providing a valuable customer service.

At each successive stage of your relationship, discussions with clients provide further insight into the nature of a project and the surrounding political environment. If you ask probing questions, you can build follow-on sales by finding areas where a client might be open to phased projects. For instance, in a web design project, you might start with logo and graphic design, later expanding into building a mobile app or designing banner ads.

When designing a questionnaire, you want to ask a mix of logistical questions, general questions that gauge a client’s intent, and questions specific to the project at hand. You need to strike a balance in length: this can require a lot of work to fill out, which will delay the process (depending how much work you have, this may be good!). For small projects, a client may give up too easily if there is a lot of work to do on their end; however, this allows you to self-select clients who are serious. As your business changes and grows, your needs will vary over time.

If client discussions are archived electronically, it allows you to revisit projects after the fact, either for a post-mortem, or because you got a call from someone you haven’t heard from in a couple years. When you go back over the history of conversations with a client, it’s worth knowing who was involved in the original project, what the measures of success were, and what the original vision was.

It’s critical to set client expectations about pricing early in the project, and find out what their budget is: while everyone would prefer to get a good value, this tells you whether there is a budget for upsells. If there isn’t, you can help the client figure out what is most important to them by asking lots of detailed questions about the nature of the project. For instance, you might remove support for older browsers, reduce the scope of customizations to a CMS, or phase integrations with external services.

If you gather enough information to be able to itemize pricing for different parts of a project, clients can pick and choose which pieces they want. In some cases, they will choose a mixed model, where multiple vendors are involved. While this prevents you from capturing all the revenue, you can price project phases based on various factors, e.g. whether you want a particular type of work or not, and whether you think that part of the project is a good idea and likely to succeed.

If you ask the right sort of questions, you can also prevent late additions to requirements and uncover secret deadlines (depending on the nature of your client’s environment, these may always be an issue!) Each phase of discussion feeds into the next phase- once a lead is qualified, you can send them the appropriate form for gathering requirements. At the end of a project, this lets you set up a questionnaire later for a pre-launch checklist, and customer satisfaction at the end. If your project management staff has enough visibility into the entire process, they can continually tune the client intake process as new projects start, leading to smoother projects over time.

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