How to build a better client experience.
What is Client Experience?
There’s a famous quote that goes something like this: “Your company’s reputation is not what you say it is. It’s what your customers say it is.” Client experience can be defined as the customer journey. Its quality can be measured by how customers feel after spending time with your brand. How would customers describe their experience with your product, people, website, office, or ad campaign? Was it pleasant, infuriating, or somewhere in between?
Client Experience v. Customer Service
Customer service and client experience are often used interchangeably but they aren’t exactly the same thing. Customer service happens when your employees serve your customers. Client experience is the sum total of customer service plus every other interaction between the client and your brand. “Interaction” can be a phone call with your support rep, creating an account on your mobile app, or waiting for an appointment in your office lobby — every point of contact is an interaction.
Why does Client Experience matter?
The quality of your client experience has a direct effect on revenue, in the form of churn and new business. And most marketers believe that their businesses compete mostly on the basis of client experience. So much so that an entire consulting industry has grown around client experience and customer journey mapping. Firms like Bain & Company charge a lot of money to help companies focus on customer experience. Today, we’ll share a few good customer experience tips and things to consider (free of charge!).
Every interaction affects Client Experience.
Every single interaction with a customer is an opportunity to delight or disappoint. When was the last time you called a support number, got a recording, and felt good about it? Never forget that feeling. Even a missed phone call hurts your brand and moves the needle towards bad experience. Bad experiences tend to circulate, congregate, and snowball into bad reputations. And, bad reputations are especially bad for new business. Every interaction is either a golden opportunity or a missed one.
- Today, most client service businesses have grown largely by word of mouth (reputation + reviews).
- Over the last decade online reviews have become ubiquitous. More than 90% of people frequently check online reviews and more than 80% trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends.
- Every client interaction should be considered as if the business depends on it, because it does.
Good Client Experience transcends industry and profession.
A good client experience can change a client’s expectations for all of the professionals that they work with. For example, when e-signatures became available, client expectations quickly evolved. Instead of having to drive to the office, wait for a courier or check the mail, clients were suddenly able to sign docs online and on their phones. This new convenience was such a welcome evolution that going without was considered old world. It was adopted across professions in only a few years.
How to improve client experience.
You can’t fix what you don’t measure. Customer satisfaction surveys are the first step in improving your client experience score.
- Include a survey with every support communication. Simple surveys such as NPS or “smileys” are quick and easy.
- If you receive a bad response, be sure to follow up right away. A quick, empathetic response suggests genuine concern and does a lot to diffuse the frustration.
- When you receive glowingly positive surveys, consider following up and asking for a referral. Referrals are the ultimate reward and only happen if your CX delights.
- (In a Yoda voice:) Good businesses do what clients ask them to do. Great businesses do what their clients expect them to do without asking.
- Look for trends in adjacent professions.
- Look for trends in how consumer apps work. For example, how we pay and get paid continues to get easier. Firms are taking all of the friction out of how we purchase goods and services. We should anticipate those trends finding their way into professional services.
Future of client experience.
Technology is pushing the pace of innovation in client experience. Mobile apps, secure file sharing platforms, video conferencing, and e-signatures have already driven dramatic changes in client experience. Their introductions were so warmly welcomed that we’re always disappointed by their absence. Less friction, less busywork, more convenience, more intuition are lasting trends that will continue to shape client expectations. From now on, they’ll always expect more.
Just as important as the new feature in your mobile app is the call you receive when the mobile app isn’t working right. Remember the sage’s words, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it.” Take the worst customer experience you’ve had in the past few years and ask yourself a few questions.
How many people have you told about it? Of those people, how many did you discourage from buying? How do you feel about the company today? What would the company have to do to get you back? It’s a steep climb I bet. Best to focus on customer experience early on. Be a good listener, try to anticipate client needs, and respond swiftly and empathetically to negative reviews and feedback. You can’t grow customer loyalty unless customers believe you understand them.