Client feedback is about intentionally seeking to understand and better serve your clients by actively and humbly listening and learning from them. By listening and seeking their feedback, you’ll better understand their needs, ideas, frustrations, and dreams. These insights will then guide your team towards effective strategies and solutions that are tailored to your clientele.
The Partners Worldwide network is committed to following Christ’s example of servant leadership. Actively and humbly listening to our clients and neighbors - especially listening to the ‘least of these’ - is at the heart of our relational and transformational partnership model.
So, how might you listen to your clients and seek their feedback?
Client intake forms and interviews. Get to know your clients as people, meeting with them to not only fill in your ‘intake form,’ but to asking open-ended questions that help you get to know them and truly understand why they have come to your organization. An essential (and difficult) skill in these type of interviews is active listening. See the resources below to build your team’s active listening skills!
Mid and post-activity (i.e. training) feedback. The best time for feedback is when it is fresh. For example, use the post-training survey (from the PW business curriculum) after each training session to gain insights and ideas of how to improve your training. You can gather feedback during or right after any training, event, or specific service. For example, right after a client is approved for a loan or makes a loan payment you could ask, “How well did we serve you today?” and “How can we do better?” Or you can take time each week to be a “fly on the wall” and quietly observe your staff and clients interacting, to find areas for improvement.
Client “Listen, Learn, and Lead” Focus Groups. We recommend that every LCI integrate this powerful focus group tool for feedback from their clients on a regular basis. This intentional method of listening to your clients in small groups can provide unexpected insights. You might hear about a trouble spot in your client services, inspirational stories of success, or innovative solutions from your clients on how to best serve your clients!
Creative Listening to “all the voices.” Some of your client groups may not feel comfortable, or know how to share their feedback verbally. But you can listen in lots of creative ways that involve people! You can use sticky notes, pictures, or drawings as feedback tools that can involve all the voices in the room. See the resources below for tools and examples!
Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). A strong monitoring and evaluation program in place will help to guide intentional and regular feedback from your clients. As described in our Impact Measurement 2-pager, client feedback can go from the listening exercises above to more in-depth survey methods with your clients.
In the fast-paced, changing world we live in, feedback isn’t a luxury; it is requirement for relevant service and survival.
To answer before listening—that is folly and shame. Proverbs 13:18 (NIV)
Just getting started?
- Consider using this Client Intake Template form. Feel free to download it, edit it, and make it your own.
- Moments that Matter is a great example of a focus group guide that we highly recommend.
- Here is a simple Moments that Matter presentation prepared by our friends at HOPE International.
- From USAID’s Micro-links platform, here is a comprehensive yet simple overview for Designing and Conducting Interviews and Focus Groups. This may be especially helpful for micro-finance institutions.
- Here’s a presentation PW staff put together entitled A Culture of Leaders who are Listening and Learning
- We can’t recommend enough the Field Guide to Human Centered Design from IDEO.org. Innovation and listening skills go hand-in-hand and are essential in ending poverty.
- On active listening:
Want to go deeper?
- How to Understand Your Customers’ Needs and Expectations, from socialenterpriseworks.org
- Here’s an article on Asset Based Community Development by our friend Jay Van Groningen: Learning the New ABCDs. We also like Jay’s book, Communities First.
- Another excellent resource on this topic is Building Communities from the Inside Out by John Kretzmann and John McKnight, the founders of the ABCD Institute. Check out abcdinstitute.org/toolkit for a myriad of tools, videos, case studies, workbooks, and more!
- An in-depth Monitoring & Evaluation resource written by PW staff: Doing by Learning.
- PW staff piloted a Focus Groups project in Kenya with one of our LCIs, Grafco, in 2017. Here are some of the reports, tools, and background info related to that project:
- PW's Focus Group Guide -- adapted from Moments that Matter (see above), here is the 20-page Focus Groups guide our staff used in Limuru, Kenya to facilitate a successful focus groups exercise.
- Terms of References for the Grafco Focus Groups Pilot: background, objectives, and methodology.
- Comprehensive and photo-filled 9-page Grafco Focus Groups Report full of summaries, key takeaways, and lessons learned.
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