‘Feedback is good for an architect’s business’ paraphrases a headline in the august Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
The architectural profession depends heavily on repeat clients and recommendations; in some firms >90% of annual income is from these two sources. Yet independent research shows that other than sometimes perfunctory post-occupancy surveys, architects collect little or no systematic feedback from their clients.
Let alone, do architects use client feedback data to improve the value they deliver to their clients or lift the effectiveness of their own client retention and business development performance.
According to findings reported in the Royal Institute of British Architects Journal, clients rate architects who do not follow up on completion of a project worse than they rate those who do. The chart above from the RIBAJ report refers to satisfaction with an architect’s performance on process management. Other data in the report shows the same pattern for design performance.
The Journal continues, I assume being deliberately provocative, “Dabbling in client feedback is not easy for architects. Apart from being a bit wishy washy, it diverts resources from earning fees. It doesn’t fit well with their training, which casts them as superhero guardians of the public good. In this rose-tinted world view, customer service is implicit in every flex of their professional muscle, so why would they do more?”
RIBA’s survey showed “a fair proportion of architects simply walked away at the end of their contract, with ne’er so much as a backward glance. They paid a penalty, apparently: their overall satisfaction ratings were on average significantly worse than those for architects who stayed around.”
A contrary and dare we say it, progressive way to view this, also from the RIBAJ, “If client feedback is positive, it makes good marketing material; and if it’s not, then the firm can at least learn from it”.
This begs the question why so few architects collect client feedback systematically. Based on our own interactions with Australian and New Zealand architects in the past couple of years, beaton believes the reason is architects, particularly in medium-small practices, don’t have the resources to do so.
beaton‘s client feedback service to architects comes as part of the Client Choice Awards. We are grateful for the strong support by the Association of Consulting Architects who bring the service to the attention of their members. Details of how to enter your architecture practice and receive a client feedback report may be found here.