According to research, one in seven clients has an unvoiced complaint. Do you know how your clients feel about your firm’s service?
In today’s episode, Alyson Fieldman, founder of Rockit Results, an independent consulting firm specializing in strategic marketing for high-growth professional services firms, shares her expertise in client experience (CX) and why it is a strategic differentiator in the marketplace. Alyson explains that CX is the sum of all a firm’s touchpoints with its clients and how it makes the client feel. She emphasizes the importance of empathy and understanding the emotional components of CX, which technical professionals often overlook.
The key to happier repeat clients, less client attrition, more client loyalty, an easier sales cycle, and more referrals is to ask, listen, and act. It’s as simple (and as complicated) as that. Although it requires time, resources, and ongoing effort to get to the bottom of what your clients really want and to make the changes that will give them that, it will always be a worthy investment!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Alyson shares her thoughts on why client experience (CX) is a strategic differentiator in the marketplace.
- Elements that CX is made up of and why they matter to your firm’s success.
- The difference between client service and client experience.
- Why so many professional services executives struggle with CX.
- Examples of different CX approaches.
- Ask, listen, act; why this is Alyson’s favorite CX approach.
- How to ask questions in a way that will allow you to make the biggest impact.
- The opportunity that presents itself when there is a breakdown in client service.
- Some of the obstacles that prevent companies from enhancing their CX.
- The many benefits of taking the time to understand what your clients really want.
- Why CX is a program rather than a project.
- Examples of the types of questions to ask your clients in order to understand their feelings towards your company.
- How to respond to different types of client feedback.
- The best place to start on your journey of improving CX.
[0:00:04.5] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a connection builder’s podcast, helping middle-market professionals connect, grow, and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.
[0:00:22.0] AD: Alyson, welcome to the Branch Out Podcast.
[0:00:24.1] AF: Thank you, it’s so wonderful to be here with you today, Alex.
[0:00:27.2] AD: Before we jump in, and maybe I’ll talk to listeners for a minute here, our conversation today for Alyson and I, we’re going to start a dialog around talking about the idea of client experience and I think this is a topic that if you are in professional services today, you’re hearing it more and more about the importance of client service and how client service can drive results and it can drive value.
But a lot of times, at least for myself, I’m not hearing a lot of clarity upon what client service, the client experiences, and how to really bring the clear definition of that. So that’s where we’re going to be honing in today and Alyson is an expert in this area and Alyson, maybe you can just share a little bit about yourself and yourself and your career experience to tee us up for this dialog?
[0:01:06.0] AF: Sure. Hi everybody, my name is Alyson Fieldman. I’m an independent consultant and I specialize in strategic marketing for high-growth professional services firms. I grew up in a number of different organizations, especially agency side, where I worked with law firms, predominantly early in my career, and have transitioned more towards accounting firms later in my career but I still work with both in the work that I do.
In my last firm, I was in-house at a top 15 accounting firm and I was fortunate enough to launch a formal CX program that is going strong even though I’m no longer there as the champion of the program but I believe very, very strongly in the notion of client experience as a strategic differentiator and that’s what we’re here to talk about today.
[0:01:59.1] AD: So let’s talk about that last part you just said there, strategic differentiator. Tell me a little bit more about why CX, client experience, is a strategic differentiator in the marketplace.
[0:02:10.5] AF: Well, I think the work that is being delivered, oftentimes, we hear from professionals, whether lawyers or accountants, we hear this idea that we do really great quality work but I think the firm down the street is also doing really great quality work. Those have become table stakes, there’s no way to set ourselves apart through the actual deliverables, and what we know is that clients choose us because of the experience that we deliver.
In fact, clients are willing to pay more when they have a positive client experience. So I think CX is a great area for firms of all different sizes and shapes to invest in building a client-centric firm.
[0:02:56.6] AD: You said something that I think is a really important element of understanding the framework of all this, and the context of why client experience matters and I want to dive into that deeper in a moment here. But what you had pointed out is that this concept that as a professional, you do good work and so that’s why clients should hire you and should work with you and trust you is because you do good work.
Yes, I agree with that but you said, the firm down the street does good work too and it is table stakes but I would say beyond that, that when you’re talking with any type of a prospect or an existing client, anywhere that you’re trying to demonstrate value and say, “Well, I promise you, if you hire me, I will accurately get your work done at a quality that meets your standards.” Okay? That’s it?
[0:03:41.5] AF: That sounds [0:03:41 inaudible], right?
[0:03:43.4] AD: Right? Like, “Of course, you will because that’s why I’m paying you, right? If you can’t do that, then you should just tell me that and we can go somewhere else.” The number of professionals that I have spoken with and even in my previous career working in a professional consulting firm, where the view was, “Hey, we just do it better, we have different expertise, we have a different specialty, we can do it in a way that others can’t because of X, Y, and Z.”
And while these things may be true in some contexts, they’re largely perspective based and they are extremely challenging to truly demonstrate, especially if you are pre-working with someone or if you’re trying to kind of expand the engagement that you have with someone. It’s just really challenging to say that you are truly different in that spot. Alyson, do you agree with that?
[0:04:27.4] AF: Yeah, I would totally agree. I think the one area where I think it is easy to differentiate is through industry specialization. If you are the preeminent firm who specializes in one tiny very focused industry niche, I think it’s very easy to set yourself apart. I think the more of a generalist you are, the harder it becomes, and the more important CX, you know, really makes an impact and I realized that you started the conversation, Alex, by asking us to really define what client experience is and I don’t think we have yet.
So I want to maybe touch on that briefly. In my mind, client experience is the sum of all of the touch points a firm has with its prospects or clients. So that could be everything from how they answer the phone to how they send invoices and deliver work, how often they come out to visit in person, right? All of those touch points and how it makes the client feel.
So you even tripped up on the words a little bit and said, client service at one point and it’s not surprising because client experience is very, very often conflated with client service, and client experience and client service, they’re not one and the same, obviously, they’re directly correlated but client service is what the provider does and client experience is how the client perceives or feels about that work and that relationship. CX is much more heavily rooted in that relational component.
So hopefully, that answers your question but I think that there’s a huge component of empathy and understanding in client experience that doesn’t necessarily exist in client service.
[0:06:15.4] AD: So I appreciate you calling it, because I actually can – you know when you’re talking sometimes and you say something in real-time and you’re like, “Oh crap, I said the wrong word.” I definitely did and I think the second time around, I pulled myself back to it. I’m glad you highlight it because you’re completely right, there’s a lot of view that they are intertwined and what you really, I think, are hitting on, and correct me if I’m wrong on this, it’s the idea that the CX, the experience is about how the client, the individual, we know it’s client experience, the client, the person who is paying you money, who is using you as a service provider, how they feel about their time working with you, right?
[0:06:54.9] AF: Exactly.
[0:06:56.2] AD: Knowing how people feel has a lot to do with, and I like that you used the word empathy, and where I think where you’re going with this and I think when we’ve talked about this a little bit before, this is really about making sure that part of your thought process about how a client interacts with you throughout the entire lifecycle of the relationship, thinking about it from their perspective and how it’s perceived through their lens, is that right?
[0:07:22.0] AF: That’s exactly right and it focuses more on the emotional components rather than the technical components and unfortunately, many professional services executives are so hyper-focused on the technicalities of what they do, whether it’s the ins and outs of the legal doctrine or if it’s related to accounting and the principles associated with tax code.
These are highly technical areas and these folks are trained to hone in on the minutiae of these technical areas and what we’re asking them to do all of a sudden in their career is to focus on the emotional inter-human connection and understanding what a client feels and experiences as they work with us.
Obviously, it’s a huge departure from how they’re trained but it really can make a massive impact on how a client responds to their provider and how that relationship changes over time.
[0:08:23.6] AD: So I’m going a little off the cuff here and kind of thinking back about what I was saying earlier and what you said there around the way of thinking, the technical element, and if we look at, for professionals, for anyone, whether they’re accountants, lawyers or anyone else that’s an advisor or consultant, you tend to find yourself in that largely technical type training in educational, academic experience plus the early onset of the carer tends to be hyper-technical in nature.
It tends to attract individuals that have an appeal to do that type of work and enjoy the accuracy of the technicalities behind it and all of, really the culmination of that is the expertise that you are being paid for and selling and serving into the market and that is the table stakes that we talked about earlier, right?
[0:09:17.1] AF: Exactly, 100%.
[0:09:19.1] AD: So then, in your experience and for someone listening and saying, “Okay, well, that’s great. Well, how do I or how do I get my team, how do I get others around me to start to take some of that transition in their thinking?” And opening up to also taking the perspective of not just the technical accuracy in making sure that’s done right but saying, “Okay, well, how do we improve the experience here?” How do we take ourselves out of that into kind of the softer element, if you will?
[0:09:46.9] AF: So there’s a lot of different approaches to client experience. I like to liken it to a recipe. Every firm can have a different CX recipe. They can include client feedback, they could have client advisory boards, they could invest in skill development and training, they could have client round tables.
I’ve seen all of these things happen in different capacities at different firms but I think the model that I really love that’s super simple is ask, listen, and act, okay? Just those three simple words. Ask your clients, “How are we doing? What could we be doing better or differently?” and then really listen intently to the feedback they provide. It’s amazing how rich and valuable feedback is if you take the time to ask for it and then act on that. There’s nothing worse than asking a client or a prospect for feedback and then not acting on it. It demonstrates a level of arrogance.
Really understanding how to ask, listen, and act can make a huge impact. It can be everything from, “How are our invoices, are they easy to read? Is there anything that we could do to make it easier for you to process these?” You could get a wealth of information just by asking that simple question. I would suspect that might lead you down a rabbit hole of figuring out how to do centralized billing and standardizing billing across different services and different partners.
It might open up a huge Pandora’s Box internally from an operations perspective but that’s your problem, not your client’s problem, right? So those are the kinds of pieces of nuggets of wisdom that you can uncover just by asking and asking can come in all different forms. Asking can be just a one-on-one conversation over lunch where I check in with you or it could be a formal client survey that we as a firm do once a year or quarterly or after a major project completes, or it could be for you know, for your top clients, it could be client feedback interviews.
The firms that I’ve seen do client feedback interviews, they always say that they’re not meant to be business development drivers but inherently, they always drive new business development because clients will tell you, “These are the things that I’m working on, these are the things that are important to me,” and we are inherently wired to want to help.
So we can quickly turn that around and say, “Okay, I see these are your next three goals for the coming year, here are some ways that we can help you,” or, “Here are some referrals we can provide to you,” and those are ways that you can demonstrate stronger client experience and tighten up that relationship and make it a more lasting relationship where client loyalty is really at the heart.
[0:12:43.3] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, A connection builder’s podcast.
[0:12:50.8] AD: You said, ask, listen, and act, correct?
[0:12:54.3] AF: It’s that simple, yup.
[0:12:56.3] AD: So, I want to talk about the ask part first, and then let’s move on to the back half of how to do something once you’ve asked. In the asking, you listed off a number of different ways and understanding there’s more than one way to go at it and it depends likely on what you’re trying to learn and from what context and from who.
But stepping back for a minute, and I’m sure you’ve seen this in some of the work you’ve done, what gets in the way of that? Where do people get hooked up or hung up in kind of taking that first step to actually go forward with making the initial ask?
[0:13:27.1] AF: Well, I think that we don’t often stop to think about how other people are perceiving the same experience, right? As humans, we see the world through our lens. So just the idea of stepping beyond ourselves into that empathetic mind space, to understand that our clients might be having the same conversation with us but they might be perceiving it completely differently, that’s a huge departure. And I think a lot of that has to come from either having someone who is inherently wired or how they’re trained.
So just planting that seed to encourage people to ask how we’re doing can make a significant impact but when it comes to doing a survey or a more formal feedback program, the two obstacles that I see most often, one is the hubris of professional service executives. They will say, “My clients are happy, you don’t need to talk to them. They don’t really believe that there are issues at hand.”
But they say the industry stat is that one in seven clients has an unvoiced complaint and so oftentimes, they’re surprised when you ask a client for feedback and they aren’t nearly as happy as you think they are and that opens up the door for corrective action or for doubling down on relationship building in a way that you can repair a relationship. When there is a breakdown in client service, and you go above and beyond to listen to that and try to repair that, you often can create a much stronger client experience in the long run than you could if there was never a breach. So those opportunities are gold mines if we can find them, if we can uncover them. So that’s the first obstacle as people just simply don’t want you to ask their clients. “They’re my clients, they’re not the firm’s clients,” right? So that’s the cultural component.
And the second piece that I see that’s an obstacle is quality of data. Many firms, even large very sophisticated firms don’t have a good handle on their client list, can’t necessarily pull out of one single system to understand how to even reach their clients. So maybe they have a CRM and the relationship owners are included in the CRM but it’s disconnected from the time and billing system that has the billing contacts and there’s no way to rectify or put those lists together.
So oftentimes, it’s a very heavy lift, a very time-consuming, technical exercise to get a full complete client list pulled together with all of the right players and to have partners review the list and give their blessing, that process can take months. So the technical but also the cultural can sometimes prevent more formalized forms of client feedback.
[0:16:37.2] AD: So two questions for you. The technical element, and I don’t want to dive into necessarily, the details, the technical side but I want to acknowledge that, from what I’m hearing from you, given the magnitude of what can at times need to go into this and how heavy the lift is going to be.
It’s an investment and I say an investment not just of potentially and likely dollars, but also, hours, time, energy, thinking, right? And so it’s a heavy lift. So to be successful at it, you have to be prepared to make that investment, is that true?
[0:17:10.4] AF: Absolutely, 100% but it pays dividends because the kinds of insights that you can uncover can help your business from an operational standpoint, it can help repair specific client, individual client concerns. It can help you identify challenges that might be trends in your business.
You might have an office or an industry that isn’t performing as well from a client experience perspective and that allows you the opportunity to rectify and to correct those misses but also it gives you the opportunity to celebrate the successes. People want to feel good, that they’re doing the right thing and that their clients are happy.
So that investment pays back in dividends in terms of dragging client loyalty, dragging employee loyalty. It helps with referrals, it helps in the buying decision. We know that it can help you with pricing because clients will pay more if there is a strong client experience. I’ve never seen a situation where the return on investment wasn’t there.
In fact, at the firm that I was at most recently, when we did our first year of client feedback survey, we then turned around and surveyed our partners to ask about their experience going through it, and a number of them noted that they had identified new business development opportunities as a result of serving their clients that they simply weren’t aware of and it helped them drive new business.
That was certainly not the initial driver for the survey but it certainly was a nice outcome nonetheless.
[0:18:56.0] AD: I appreciate the depth of context you gave around the potential for ROI and you may have some numbers on this and then there are maybe firms out there that have found a unique way to measure it but I would also say that inevitably, this is an exercise that probably has a lot of intangible benefits that may result in a lot of positive outcomes and help support that ROI especially over a longer period of time.
But I think in some ways if you want to be successful, and again, I am just speaking from my own perspective and experience in this, it just more than anything requires you to acknowledge the fact that, “Hey, this matters,” and that going out to get structured feedback from the clients that we’re serving and as you say, listen and then acting on that feedback will pay dividends and you just, I think, you have to know that that way of thinking is going to result in better outcomes than be the opposite of it, the not doing it, if you will.
[0:19:57.8] AF: Absolutely, right. It’s hard to quantify the ROI and it’s going to look a little different in every situation but I’ll tell you, the cost of it is mostly time and energy. I mean, some firms do invest in feedback platforms but they’re not hugely costly, right? They’re not a massive investment and the result is happier repeat clients, less client attrition, more client loyalty, and easier sales cycle, more referrals. I mean, new business, this is what we’re driving for.
[0:20:32.8] AD: One of the big reasons I wanted to highlight this discussion around ROI, if you will, is I think what we’re both saying is that if you go into doing this and you are trying to measure an ROI on it, it could be very easy in a matter of one, two, three years of doing it to say, “Well, this isn’t worth it. This isn’t yielding any results,” because it’s very challenging to fully measure it versus going into an initiative like this with the mentality of, as you said, it’s not an overly expensive investment but it’s more about again, the way of thinking.
Establishing the capacity from individuals on your team to both think about what the approach should be from questioning and then to act on receiving the feedback but then more importantly in the part that we’re going to go spend some time talking about now is the listening and acting on it and if that’s the mentality you go in with, you’re much more likely to be successful and recognize that this is going to take a period of time, a number of years to start fully yielding results and that it’s like anything, it’s all about getting that feedback and taking time to work those into what you do and the benefits are going to be in a lot of different directions.
[0:21:44.6] AF: Yes, emphatically yes. This is not a project, right? There is no start and end, it’s a program. Client experience has to be an ongoing program that you continue to invest in. If you do a one-time annual, do a one-time survey, you might glean some insights but by investing in the long term, you will have the kind of outcomes that you’re looking for.
And it’s really not about the ROI, it’s about doing the right thing. It’s about positioning your business with your clients at the heart of it and knowing that will drive positive outcomes in terms of profitability and business development and growth but it is doing it the right way. Instead of focusing on the rather new first and foremost, it’s about meeting the clients where they are and providing the service and the experience that they need and the outcomes will be tremendous and people know when you’re doing things for the right reasons and CX is no exception to that.
[0:22:47.6] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle-market professionals.
[0:22:54.9] AD: I like the framework. A project, it’s not a project. It’s an ongoing initiative, it’s a program that you have. This year’s feedback survey, that might be a project or analyzing and acting on something might be a project component of it but the idea, the overall, “Hey, we’re going to continuously do this ongoing and work to build a process around it,” that’s the ongoing nature that makes it successful.
Now, let’s shift into – let’s talk about – so we go out, we have the right mentality, we want to go get feedback. What are we trying to get feedback about and how do we appropriately listen to the feedback that we’re getting?
[0:23:34.1] AF: Well, I think you can get feedback in any number of different ways. Certainly, you can ask for the classic net promoter score of feedback, which is that one simple question, “How likely are you to refer us to friends or family?” And it’s on a scale of about one to ten. That’s one question, that’s a very telling question, it’s a very quantitative orientation to client satisfaction but it really only captures a moment in time.
We all know the experience of getting those surveys right after we’ve taken a flight and our experience on that flight is really going to color how we feel about that airline for example. Certainly, my recent experience where I had a flight canceled two hours before my flight was supposed to depart is going to color how I answer that survey but I think the net promoter score, NPS question, is really just one, you know, it’s the tip of the iceberg. It’s just one type of question.
You can ask about value. Often, value is an indicator of how much you’re delivering versus price. I like it better than any questions about, “Do we offer a fair price?” or something like that. Value is much more telling. Ask about timelines, the ease of working with the team. You can ask questions like, “Is there anyone on the team that you worked with that you want to call out and celebrate as a strong team member?”
Those are nice opportunities to celebrate, where someone gets a shoutout and some client feedback tools have that inherently baked in. I think it’s a great opportunity to ask, “What are your goals for the coming year? What are three things that are top of mind for you?” That opens the door to new business development conversations. You can obviously ask open-ended questions, “What could we be doing differently or better?” Or, “What do you like most about working with us? What do you like least about working with us?”
Those open-ended questions will often give you much richer and more robust qualitative data that you can then process and act on. So I like asking no more than seven or eight questions on any given survey. When you do an interview, obviously you can have more back and forth but they take longer and require someone from your team being engaged in conversation. That someone has to have a level of understanding of the client, of their business. But it can’t be somebody on their account because then they would be biased in their responses and they might get a little bit defensive.
I think regardless, the most important thing to keep in mind when you are asking and listening to this feedback is that all feedback is a gift. All of it, the good and the bad. Oftentimes, the bad feedback is harder for people to actually give to you and so you have to be grateful in knowing that it’s an opportunity for you to see things through their lens and understand their experience and fix it.
So those types of feedback truly are a gift but you have to be committed and prepared to also act on it because there’s nothing in the world worse than asking for feedback, getting it, and doing absolutely nothing with it. That demonstrates the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve.
[0:27:01.5] AD: So how do we get there? We’ve asked, we’ve listened, and heard the concerns and have taken that in. How do we ensure that it actually goes somewhere? Because I have to assume this is where the rubber meets the road, if you will.
[0:27:15.8] AF: Yeah, I think that when it’s very positive feedback, it’s very easy to respond and thank a client for their feedback, for their partnership. When it’s very negative feedback it’s also relatively easy to respond because you know there needs to be corrective action and in that case, being swift to respond is very important. You have to be able to demonstrate commitment to the client experience by addressing it head-on.
Sometimes specific training can be very helpful, like crucial conversations. Also, it may be an opportunity to open the door to say, “Maybe this isn’t the right fit. Maybe we can’t ever deliver what you need from us and maybe we can make a referral to someone who could deliver what you need,” and that’s okay. It’s okay if client feedback results in losing clients that aren’t the right clients.
So I think that just equipping your people with the tools to be able to respond to negative feedback very quickly is important. So whatever client feedback program you implement, specifically with regard to surveys, it’s important that every partner gets their feedback in real-time so that they can see and address anything that’s negative swiftly.
Then the middle of the road feedback, that’s the harder stuff, right? That’s how do we convert a client who’s sort of lukewarm, how do we make them a raving fan? Those things take long concerted efforts over many, many months and years. Understanding what they need and moving the needle slowly and consistently over time, that’s actually much harder than responding to very positive or very negative feedback. So those are the opportunities where you have to collectively look at trends in feedback and to convert independent data points into insights that are actionable.
So being able to pull together all of the survey data into some type of report that you can share out, that you can disseminate, that you can discuss and provide will shine a light on areas that are problematic. Maybe it’s client onboarding, maybe the sales process is great and then you sign an engagement letter and then all of a sudden, it’s crickets and the clients don’t feel loved, valued, and supported in the onboarding process.
So if you hear that feedback consistently, then you can work through and create some type of formalized onboarding program. Maybe it’s just related to, “How do I access my own information? I don’t like the portal you have in place to upload my data. It keeps timing out, it’s old. It’s built on bad technology, I can’t access it from my iPhone.” Maybe it’s technology responses that you’re getting, maybe that’s an area to focus on, create partnering with IT and creating more robust client dashboards or portals or apps or something like that.
Maybe that’s the right solution but you don’t know that it’s a problem unless you ask and then you amalgamate the data and the feedback whether it’s qualitative or quantitative and look for those trends, those pain points, or those opportunities to make a difference.
[0:30:35.1] AD: I want to peel into the one that you highlighted at the end there, call it the tech stack, the client portal, just the idea of how does your technology, because everyone running a firm today, everybody running frankly any business but especially if you are a professional services firm, one of the important initiatives that you are likely either currently undertaking or have undertaken and are continuing to improve on is leveraging technology in one way or another to streamline and automate not only the collection of information but also the flow of work and communication, right?
Every business is trying to modernize and how to leverage the way the technology has rapidly increased over the last 20 or so years. My experience around this, one of the most challenging elements of that can be product selection and development and ensuring that you are choosing the right tool and focusing on kind of the right area that’s going to drive value, not only to achieve your internal goals but also to, if you care about clients, if you care about the experience that your clients have, also to work with and integrate with them.
That’s a process that can be not only made easier but I would argue is almost imperative to have feedback from the involved constituents and one of them is your client, right? Am I thinking about that right?
[0:31:57.9] AF: Absolutely, Alex, yes. As you develop systems and tools and processes and even services, it’s really helpful to have the voice of the client as a part of that conversation. So, it can look lots of different ways, right? It could be doing an informal roundtable with users of your technology today to get their feedback on what’s working, what the requirements are going forward, or it could be through testing, right?
“Hey, we have this app in development, I’d love if you would be one of our preferred clients and would take it for a spin for 30 days and provide us with your feedback.” How many firms roll out technology or projects or systems without asking their clients for their feedback? I’ll tell you, it’s the vast majority of them, right? We’re so focused on getting the work done and we get stuck in our own minds, “What does the firm need? What do we think our clients need or want?” that we don’t pivot to really be client-centric to get that outside-in thinking going.
The only real way to do that is through involvement. That can look different ways but the outcome will be much stronger if you include your clients in those conversations. So like I mentioned earlier, creating an onboarding program. Well, don’t just sit in a boardroom alone with the marketing team and the billing team and IT to figure out, “Well, how do we automate an onboarding program that makes people feel good?” Well, have some of your clients there or have a conversation with clients about what onboarding has worked well for them in the past, what they enjoy, what they’re looking for, what would be most valuable for them, and then include those voices in all of those conversations, regardless of what the project is.
[0:33:49.7] AD: Alyson, this has been an incredibly insightful conversation but I think one that really did a good job of pulling out the importance of client experience, why it matters, and how to think about it is maybe kind of a final question. If you step back and you’re talking to someone who says, “Okay, this makes sense and I want to get started on this,” what should I do first?
[0:34:13.6] AF: It’s great. Alex, I get that question all the time. The thing that I think is the easiest place to start is through client journey mapping and what that is, is just imagining your clients and what they’re experiencing as they work with you in every stage of their buyer life cycle. So all the way from when they’re a prospect and they’re first getting introduced to you as a potential buyer of your services, all the way through what it looks like after you’ve worked with them for a number of years and they have the opportunity to reevaluate the relationship.
Understanding what it is that the client is experiencing at every stage, how we interact with them as service providers, what their relationship, what all those touch points are, what the emotional journey feels like, sometimes it might feel like a rollercoaster. Right after something is delivered, we might be happy and then six months, nine months, a year later when we haven’t heard from them, it might look a little different.
But that client journey mapping exercise is really helpful in building empathy and seeing things through our client’s lenses. If you have a little extra time and energy, you can then go and sit with a few clients and ask them what their experience has been at each of those stages and juxtapose what we think in-house about the client journey versus what our clients tell us about their journey and I’m certain you’ll see gaps.
You’ll see places that there are misses and those are the areas that you can really focus on building stronger operations in those gaps. But that client journey mapping exercise, it can look all different ways. It can be done in a workshop, it can be done independently but I think that is the single best place to start because it helps us understand that as service providers, we see things very differently and experience things very differently than our clients do and that helps build empathy.
Secondary to that, if you have the capacity and are able to get your firm to invest in client experience, I would say client feedback programs should be at the heart of every CX program because that’s where the insights are and that’s the best place, I think, to start a robust program but as an individual, that client journey mapping exercise can be very insightful.
[0:36:37.1] AD: That was very well said and I appreciate you sharing your insights with us today. For our listeners, what’s the best way that they can reach out and get in touch with you if they want to talk a little bit more about CX?
[0:36:47.6] AF: They can reach me through my website, Rockit Results, it’s rockit-results.com.
[0:36:57.1] AD: Awesome and we’ll make sure that’s linked in the show notes below for listeners and Alyson. I really appreciate you coming on here today and sharing your thoughts with us.
[0:37:03.8] AF: It’s my pleasure, Alex, thanks so much for having me.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
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