October 1, 2001

5 Min Read
Interview Questions

The Client-Needs Assessment

The most crucial component of selling records management

By Cary F. McGovern

Thesurvey, or client-needs assessment (CNA), is the most important component ofconsultative selling for records-management services. Many of my customers haveasked me to develop a list of questions to be asked during the interview phaseof the survey process, which is comprised of three steps: the questionnaire, theclient interview and the walkabout. Each is an essential component.

The questionnaire should be designed to draw out issues to discuss in theclient- interview and walkabout phases. It represents a way to generate moremeaningful questions during the survey. For more information on this step, see"Questionnaires in Records Management" from the July 1999 issue ofInside Self-Storage. The article may be accessed online through the ISS articlearchive or at www.fileman.com.

The client-interview questions should always include these basic inquiries:who, what, when, where, how much, how often and why. Some suggested questionsare listed below for your use.

During the walkabout, you are primarily interested in validating the answersreceived in the questionnaire and the interview components of the survey. Thisis where you check reality. The principal question in this segment of course is,"Why?" It is the "why" question that draws out thedifferences between perception and reality in any business process.

Interview Questions

I have designed the client-interview questions in a building-block approach.We begin with the basic element of the box (or storage unit) and build thequestions through the client's records-management program.

The Box (Records-Storage Unit)

1. What kind of box do you use for records storage?
2. Is there a "standard" storage box? If so, is there a policyregarding use of the standard box?
3. Why did you choose that particular sort of box?

The Box Index (Contents)

1. Who in your operation is responsible for indexing (labeling) a records-storage box?
2. What are your standards for indexing a records-storage box?
3. At which point is a box indexed prior to transfer to off-site storage?

The Transfer to Storage

1. Who is responsible for the transfer of boxes to storage?
2. What events trigger files to be purged from filing units?
3. . How many boxes per day/week/ month/year do you transfer?
4. How often are boxes transferred to storage?
5. Is there someone who maintains a control or inventory list of transferredboxes?
6. Are the files identified or listed within the box? If so, how is that done?Is there a database?
7. What is the form of the database (Microsoft Access, Excel, other)?

The Storage Location

1. Do you use a commercial records-storage vendor? If so, which one?
2. Are you pleased with its service, price and dependability?
3. Are your records self-managed? If so, what is the location of the storage?
4. Can we visit all storage locations?
5. Are the records secure and confidentially managed?
6. Does the storage area provide clean and safe working conditions?
7. What is the cost of storage?

Retrieval and Re-Files

1. Who retrieves items from storage?
2. Do you retrieve files or only boxes from storage?
3. How are files or boxes controlled when out of storage? How are they noted tobe returned to storage?
4. Who is responsible for ensuring files or boxes are returned to storage?
5. How often are files retrieved per day/week/month/year?
6. How often are files are boxes returned to storage per day/week/month/year?
7. How do you measure your retrieval and re-file costs? If there is nomeasurement, then how do you manage the cost?
8. How much does a file or box retrieval cost you? Consider employee time(salary, benefits and overhead) and transportation (vehicle, mileage or fuel).
9. How much does a file or box re-file cost you? Consider employee time (salary,benefits and overhead) and transportation (vehicle, mileage or fuel).

Records-Retention Policy

1. What is your records-retention policy? If there is an existing document,may we have a copy to review?
2. Do you have a records-retention schedule? If so, may we have a copy toreview?
3. Who is responsible for retention policy? If it is a records-managementcommittee, may we meet the members?
4. Who maintains the accuracy of your retention policy and schedule? If someoneis assigned that responsibility, how does this person maintain accuracy?

Records Destruction

1. Is there a records-destruction policy? If there is a document, may we havea copy for our review?
2. Who is responsible for initiating the destruction or migration (transfer todigital form) policy?
3. Who approves the destruction of records from storage?
4. What method is used for destruction?
5. Do you use a commercial destruction service? If so, who is the resource?
6. Do you create a destruction certificate for each record series that isdestroyed? If so, who maintains the certificates?

Other Records-Management Issues

1. Are missing or lost files a problem in your organization? If so, how longdo you search for missing files before giving up?
2. Have you ever not been able to locate a file? If so, please tell us about thecircumstances.
3. What was the longest time or largest effort you spent to locate a missingfile?
4. Are there any benchmarks or standards of performance in yourrecords-management program?
5. What is the cost of your records- management program? If you don't know, howdo you manage the program?

Thereis no such thing as a complete list of questions for any client-needsassessment. In many cases, one answer leads to another question. Be aware of theissues you uncover. Remember that issues are the crux of revenue opportunitiesfor you in your records- management business.

Regular columnist Cary McGovern, CRM, is the principal of FileMan andFIRMS (FileMan Internet Records Management Services). If you have questionsabout the survey process or how to develop a commercial records-managementbusiness as part of a self-storage operation, call 877.FILEMAN or e-mail [email protected].

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter
ISS is the most comprehensive source for self-storage news, feature stories, videos and more.

You May Also Like