You’ve had a big client for 5 years, everything seems to be going well, but you’re nervous. Is it too quiet? Am I getting the full picture? Will they stick around?

You’d think an Account Manager would help because getting the answers to those questions is their job.

But you know you’ve had to cut the budget, and the Account Managers are spread more thinly, are they getting around to everyone? Are they making regular contacts by phone and email?

You have some options, not all are good. Article continues below video.

Option 1 – Frequent feedback – Smiley faces

Some companies have started adding smiley and sad faces at the bottom of emails, hoping to get feedback. But who completes those? Even if they are completed, then what’s the context? Was the email trivial? Did their sad face cover the whole relationship or just the email? Who gave the response? Was it a junior analyst without impact on your relationship? What caused the result?

Apart from annoying your customers, the problems are endless.

Don’t do it.

Option 2 – Surveys

Resist the temptation to send your business customers a survey.

The first problem with surveys is that they tend to be written unprofessionally and make you look amateurish.

Then you have the problem with the survey being too big. There’s the whole “while we’re at it, let’s also ask ……”. So the survey becomes unwieldy and you end up annoying the customer. The customer also gets bored and doesn’t answer it correctly.

Most CEO’s and decision makers won’t even complete the survey, they’ll pass it down to someone else, so you won’t get the decision-maker point of view.

One of the unintended consequences is that the usual survey season is preceded by a flurry of Account Manager activity which is viewed suspiciously by the client. The survey ultimately sours the relationship.

“David only contacts me when he wants me to make him look good – these guys are losers”

Option 3 – Independent on-on-ones

Remember asking your best friend to tell the girl next door that you liked her. It’s always easier to talk about someone behind their back (even if it’s good). It’s less confronting and we all do it, despite our noble intentions.

Well, take advantage of that.

Get an independent party to call your decision-making client for a 15-minute conversation about what they think about your company.

Sometimes the relationship is so good that customers consider you a friend and won’t tell you about the changes at board level where they are looking for a “fresh approach”. Or worse, perhaps the relationship is so ordinary that they couldn’t be bothered giving feedback.

But a third party changes all that. And the third party won’t be afraid to ask the hard questions.

Arrange a meeting with your main customer and tell them a trusted third party (yes it could be me) will arrange a 15-minute call. That’s it!

Your client will appreciate the serious approach you’ve taken and be more open with their feedback.

Then you can find the truth.