Those of us in professional services know that delivering extraordinary client service is one of the most effective ways to differentiate our firm from our competitors. But perhaps the most integral piece of the puzzle in business development and client relations is our overall client experience.
In fact, trends show that client experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Just consider your own buying experiences. A product or service. Something new. Or something you’ve purchased many times over. What was the overall customer experience like? What went well? Would you point out opportunities for improvement? Would you purchase that same product or service again? Would you potentially buy different products or services from the same organization?
In the end, we are all looking to solve specific problems and find value in the products or services we purchase. It is likely our own prospects and clients are undergoing a similar decision-making process that we undergo ourselves as consumers.
What Does Client Experience Have to Do With Business Development?
You might be wondering what client experience has to do with business development, when it’s typically considered to be an aspect of marketing. In fact, 42% of organizations investing in improving the customer or client experience are doing it to improve sales growth, and 33% are doing it to improve retention. (Source: SuperOffice.com)
The Client Experience Framework
Every interaction can enhance or detract from the client experience. How can we ensure a positive client experience?
To help establish a consistent client experience strategy, think of your client experience in these three steps: Pre-Client Experience, Implementation Experience, and Beyond the Engagement. Here, I share key questions to consider as part of each of those steps—whether you are building your client experience from the ground up or just need to do a bit of fine-tuning.
Do we have organizational and individual thought leadership across multiple platforms? Even if your firm offers organizational thought leadership such as blogs and videos, make sure it also translates to the individual level because that will amplify the firm’s efforts.
Does our business development process align with the clients’ decision processes?
What is our level of excellence with both outbound and inbound experience? (Both are important, but I often find that firms do not follow up with leads acquired through the inbound process.)
How easy do we make it to say yes? The ease of doing business and ease of the relationship can differentiate us from our competitors. Sometimes, we make it harder than it needs to be.
What barriers do firm leaders / growth officers need to remove from the pre-client experience? If you have influence over this, what can you do to alleviate the barriers?
What is our client onboarding process like? Do we make it easy to come on board?
Does every role impacting the client have what they need? Where do we have strengths and opportunities for improvement?
What can we simplify? Many times client experience and loyalty come down to making it easier.
What problems can we anticipate for the client that they aren’t thinking of?
Do we have excellence in our problem-solving processes?
Do we have excellence in our approach and demeanor?
Are we clear on our outcomes, and are we tracking them?
Beyond the Engagement
How can our post-engagement process lead to retention / renewal?
What new problems have we uncovered that can lead to growth?
How consistent is our team structure in continuing to support the client?
Do we have goals and metrics in place for expansion?
What is one thing we can amplify? What is one thing we can improve?
Even one negative client interaction can have major financial costs and damage your brand reputation. When you put a client experience framework into place, you will stand out and win more loyal clients.
Want to learn even more? Watch our on-demand webinar, Stand Out With Client Experience and Client Loyalty in the Digital Age. Also, be sure to bookmark our Driving Digital Transformation series to hear from today’s industry thought leaders who have been there, done that, and are sharing what they've learned along the way.