As service providers, the client experience is ultimately the measure of your business success. The greatest marketing campaign of all time will only sustain a business so long if the client experience is poor, or even inconsistent with the marketing message. So even if your team is wanting to focus on revenue generation, prioritize the client who is already on board and ask the team to slow down long enough to improve or optimize the client experience.
The client experience of course begins from the moment a prospect hears about you or knows you exist as a business. What they know about you, what your website communicates, what a referral has to say about how you work, what their first phone conversation or Twitter exchange with you looks like impacts their experience. These are not the areas we are going to focus on here however, these points focus on how to create an outstanding client experience once the contract is signed and the relationship has officially begun.
ONE :: Say thank you. Thanking your clients for their business and their trust is an ongoing piece of creating an outstanding experience. Being valued is critical. Gratitude is not to be missed. In fact, incorporate gratitude into your follow up process. Depending on your business model, that may include an email note or handwritten note when they are first engaged, or a gift at a particular time of year to show your thanks. It can be as simple as pausing during a moment of success in the relationship and saying “thank you for allowing us to be a part of this journey”.
TWO :: Communicate the process. Clients are putting their trust in you, but it will help them relax into the experience if you can articulate to them either verbally or in a more formal way, what they can expect from each meeting, call, appointment, proposal, phase, etc. they will feel more secure about each interaction. A more relaxed, secure client always supports the experience.
THREE :: Encourage feedback. Although asking for feedback can feel daunting, it provides you with enormous amounts of real time information on what your client is experiencing and whether that is meeting or missing their expectations. By encouraging regular feedback, you increase the number of opportunities you have as a business to improve the experience by responding to small issues before they become larger ones. Just remember, if you ask for feedback you also need to be prepared to accept it, respond to it and potentially alter your actions and processes to improve results.
FOUR :: Maintain professionalism. Sometimes clients are unprofessional and that is their prerogative. They are the client. But as the service provider, always maintain professionalism. Edit your emails for typos, provide documentation that reflects the business values and standards, use language and relational standards worthy of the business’ integrity. Consider how every interaction with a client might come back to you by way of testimonial or satisfaction survey – would it be want you want to hear?
FIVE :: Honour the contract. It goes without saying, but doing what you were hired to do will always improve the client experience. That may sometimes mean working more hours than anticipated, spending more money than expected, or investing additional unexpected resources. By showing your client that you are committed to the outcome you convinced them you could provide, it will pay off in the end. If this contract cost the business much more than anticipated, then learn from your mistake and adjust the commitment you make to the next client to better reflect your capacity, costs and capabilities.
Are there three improvements that come to mind immediately in terms of ways you can improve your client experience? Write them down and create a plan to rectify these three areas in the next 30 days. Investing in your client experience is paramount to a cash infusion in your business.