Client Satisfaction Surveys: A Comprehensive Guide for Architects

December 4, 2022

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

Last week, we dipped our toes into the 2022 AIA Firm Survey Report.

One of the most surprising statistics to come out of that report, for me at least, was this one:

Only 21% of firms have conducted a client satisfaction survey in the last 12 months. Furthermore, 79% of surveys that were conducted were via direct conversation (in-person or on the phone).

That means less than 5% of firms are sending out measurable surveys (i.e. not just conversations) to their clients. 🤯

I can understand why this might be the case. Your firm moves quickly. When one project wraps up, you’re already focused on other clients and the next deadline. And on and on it goes.

In fact, just as I was about to dive into a diatribe I asked myself:

Did you ever use a client satisfaction survey when you ran your own studio for 2.5 years?

Whoops - I didn’t! And if you’d asked me for a reason at that time, I would have felt too busy to give you a response. So trust me when I tell you that I understand!

In many ways, Growthitect just endless letters to my younger self about things that I wish I’d known sooner. 😂

But a client satisfaction survey is a quick, easy, and cheap thing to implement now that will help you attract high-quality clients.

How? It will help you understand:

  • Why great clients are choosing you

  • What they like most about working with you

  • What needs to be improved

As the architecture gods say: Know thy (high-quality) client.

So let’s make it happen.

01 // Choose a platform

There’s a myriad of tools that you can use to create and manage your surveys. Some of them are free. All of them will allow you to review responses.

The important part of whatever you choose is that your responses are stored and can be reviewed at any time. This database will become an the measure of your client experience moving forward.

02 // Build your survey

After you’ve selected your platform, the next step is to create your survey.

You want it to be short and easy. No matter whether you are getting feedback on a $10k fee project or a $10MM fee project, the client will always be busy. 30 minutes? Too long. 2 minutes? To short. Less than 10 minutes? Perfect.

The survey should be a mix of qualitative questions (short response) and quantitative questions (rated response).

For qualitative, use questions like:

  • What did you enjoy most about working with us?

  • What could have made your experience better?

  • Why were we the best option for your project?

  • What would you say to someone that is considering working with us?

  • What’s one thing that, if implemented, would make your experience incredible?

For quantitative, use questions like:

  • How would you rate your overall experience working with us?

  • How would you rate your completed {home, office, building, etc.}?

  • How would you rate our communication?

  • How would you rate our design?

  • How likely are you to work with us again?

You want to get an understanding of the good AND the bad. There’s always room for improvement and you want to identify where to focus your attention.

What’s the best part about building your survey? Do it once and then you never have to build it again.

03 // Share with your clients

Since we’re catching up on lost time, there are two scenarios to discuss for sharing your survey.

The first is the ideal scenario. This is the easy one because it has yet to come.

  • Who: Active and future clients

  • When to send it: Within 1-2 weeks of project completion (while it’s still top of mind)

  • What to write:

"Hi {first name}!

I’m endlessly focused on improving our client experience here at {firm name}. Can you spare 7 minutes to offer your feedback here {link to survey}?

Thank you and talk soon! - {your name}"

The second is the less ideal scenario. But that shouldn’t stop you from doing it!

  • Who: Past clients (within the last 6-12 months)

  • When to send it: Now!

  • What to write:

"Hi {first name}!

Hope that you’re continuing to enjoy {completed project}. With the end of the year upon us, I’m focused on improving our client experience at {firm name} in 2023.

Can you spare 7 minutes to offer your feedback here {link to survey}?

Happy Holidays and talk soon! - {your name}"

04 // Review, Analyze, Improve

You’re not done yet! Everything that you’ve done up to this point is null & void if you skip this step.

Set aside time regularly to review your feedback, share it with your team, and improve your processes.

Sure, you can review the feedback for each project as you receive it. But it’s likely going to be more beneficial if you review 3-5+ surveys at once. This will help you to identify recurring positives and negatives of your client experience.

So do it once a month.

Or once a quarter.

Or twice a year.

And make sure that your client experience continues to trend upwards over time.

BONUS TIP: Use positive responses as social proof and testimonials on your website and in your proposals.


Only 21% of firms have conducted a client satisfaction survey in the last 12 months. Of those surveys, only 21% were measurable surveys and not just conversations. That means less than 5% of firms are sending out a measurable survey to their clients.

You can quickly and easily find yourself in the top 5% of US firms relative to client experience.

How do you do it?

  1. Choose a platform

  2. Build your survey

  3. Share it with your clients

  4. Review, analyze, and improve

Today is the day!

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