Do you ask employees for their opinion on improving customer service? Adept Inc., an information-technology consulting firm, headquartered in Wellesley, Massachusetts, recommends an additional step: ask how you can serve your employees so they can better serve customers.

The $35-million firm surveys its consultants after one month on an assignment. The 10-minute phone interview includes questions such as "Is there anything we could do to improve upon services to you or the customers?" and "Have you been in contact with your account manager?" The researcher e-mails Adept's management and prepares a monthly report of employee responses.

"We used to wait until the end of the consultant's assignment to ask questions," says Sue Martell, marketing manager. "By adding questions on the front end, we can provide immediate support and catch problems before they get out of hand." Short-term assistance has included additional training and improvements to the employee's work space. The survey--which pulls a response rate almost three times higher than the old end-of-assignment written questionnaire--also generates ideas for improving long-term employee satisfaction.

"Consultants appreciate the support, and communications have opened up between consultants, recruiters, and account managers," says Martell. "Consultants are happier with their assignments and stay with us longer. All this translates into better service for clients."

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing