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Jul 6 2020

Consider a Client Survey

Architects often speak of a paradigm shift. Rarely has this topic been more appropriate than now. This time of radical change offers an opportunity for turning insight into foresight. Whether a firm is considering a shift in services, markets, or sectors, or just wants to take the pulse of its business partners, it’s important to establish a baseline from which to plan their recalibration and get a jump on the competition. A client survey can be a great tool to do this.

Studios can be apprehensive about conducting a client survey for a variety of reasons: Some worry it is an infringement on a client’s time. Others may be concerned that a survey could jeopardize a sound and ongoing relationship. Still others think that asking questions could be construed as either digging for endorsements or as a vague indicator that the firm is somehow “in trouble”.

These reservations are understandable; after all, architects are naturally creative thinkers, and the mantle of corporate leadership can be an uncomfortable fit for some of them. But—much like a design problem is solved—these misgivings can be alleviated by strategically crafting a survey that is focused, logical, and ultimately measurable. Questions should be well defined, direct, and succinct, targeting the areas of performance that are most relevant to the firm’s future operations. A survey with a mix of subjective answers, multiple choice, and numerical ranking will keep respondents engaged. It’s also worth noting that the format of a survey can impact the quality of results. A scheduled telephone interview with a neutral party documenting responses typically yields more detailed answers than an impersonal e-survey.