After a less-than-enthusiastic response to our original consultant evaluation form, we asked our members to tell us what the form needed to be a more valuable resource. The response was overwhelming.
Our IT Consultant members came through with solid, concrete suggestions for improving the form. In fact, we received so many great suggestions that we've created two versions: one comprehensive and one short form.
Download our revamped consultant evaluation form and use it to update your feedback tool.
We promised a TechRepublic coffee mug to the member who delivered the best advice for improving the evaluation form. We got such a tremendous response and so many great suggestions that we decided to give away four. Well done!
Members' suggested changes
The original form was created as a jumping-off point for firms to create their own unique versions. TechRepublic member Beth Lowgren, who works for Product 9 DESIGN, describes herself as a "designer (and geek on the side)." She said the original form was confusing, had too many questions, and wasn't going to provide meaningful or useful data.
She suggested we shorten the survey to one page so that it could also be distributed in postcard format. To make it easy for us, Lowgren provided 12 questions to add. We based the new shortened form on her suggestions.
Many other members echoed Lowgren’s sentiment. Scot MacTaggart said that customer satisfaction indexing is an art best kept to one page.
"Remember that this exercise is every bit as much to remind the customer that he's satisfied and to get him to say it for the first time," he said.
Another member, Ken Leslie, said the form needed a section on integrity, privacy, and how the consultant handled constructive criticism. We added his questions, as well as others from the many members who e-mailed us.
We also changed the tone of the questions based on a comment from Brian Konie. He suggested that the language should be less formal so clients will be more likely to give honest answers.
"Give them the idea that this survey will actually be looked at and not thrown by the wayside like so many others are," Konie said. "Make them want to truthfully complete the form."
Other items added to the form include:
- A friendlier introduction.
- A suggestion that clients return the evaluation in a postage-paid envelope.
- A phone number and contact name for clients who'd rather discuss a consultant's performance over the phone.
- An area for the client to briefly describe the consultant's roles and/or duties.
- A "not applicable" option on the rating scale.
Many members reported that by trying to figure out how to improve our form, they came up with new ideas to refresh their own survey and evaluation tools. You can too. Download the improved long form and the new short form and use them to craft the perfect form for your firm.
A few suggestions for consultants
Other members mentioned that having the form accessible online would be a great way for a consulting firm to get more responses. Jeff Smith, a senior systems analyst, suggested that consultants might use HTML and Java to make the form Web-accessible, adding mechanisms to calculate statistical information from the responses.
Dr. Mark Grundy, managing director of Consolve in Australia, said he uses many methods for checking a client's level of satisfaction.
"Sometimes, I deliver the questionnaire in text form; sometimes, I do it through phone or face-to-face conversation," he said. "I find the postengagement review mechanism very important in managing the performance of my staff, especially if my contact with the client during the engagement is infrequent."
Is it your fault if the project fails?
Does the success or failure of a project rest on the consultant's shoulders? One member said that the evaluation's questions about productivity imply that the "success or failure of the job/project is directly related to the consultant and should be reworded or removed." While many factors affect a project's success, doesn't a large responsibility rest in the hands of the consultant? Post your thoughts in the discussion below.