As a client experience professional, I get caught up in the numbers. Client Effort Scores. C-SAT, NPS, etc. As an organizational leader, my number focus moves to profit, employee engagement, growth, etc.
A BASIC OF THE CLIENT EXPERIENCE
A small note on my notebook catches my attention multiple times a day: “CSR” which is my code for Client Success Rules. Although I can help companies tie client experience (CX) to profit and growth, and demonstrate how investing in the client experience can drive fierce loyalty for both clients and employees. I admit, we, sometimes lose the primary reason for the efforts to improve the client experience (CX). Client Success!
Ultimately we all want success for our clients. There is no product or service that isn’t intended to solve a client’s problem. From a soft drink that quenches a thirst to an architect’s design for an office space. Focusing on the CX with a commitment to understanding the client’s expectations throughout a project lifecycle and then adjusting your response to ensure a client’s defined success is a business discipline cultural in nature.
CLIENT EXPERIENCE IS A TOOL
You’ve heard the adage “Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch.” Well, it also eats the uninspiring focus on just the numbers. Employees (especially those in the professional services industry) join no company to improve the gross margin or the client effort score. Most wanted to be part of an organization that do the right things right and solve people’s problems. Your employees are no different. Employees want tools to identify and solve problems for their respective clients (internal or external).
A single-mindedness on the client experience gives company leadership the ultimate core cultural component to align all other operational efforts. This focus on the CX becomes a tool to enable employees to react to client success challenges and over time design the desired experience. That reinforces what your employees want in their day-to-day client relationships management.
IT’S WHY THEY SIGNED UP TO PLAY.
Every company has something in their value statement or mission statement about client service, centricity, intimacy (yikes!), etc. This is an opportunity lost. If a cultural force in a company “eats the lunch” of other important elements of running a sound business (i.e., growth) using it becomes a high velocity change management instrument. The examples and data are clear. Loyalty leaders outperform their competitors on average of 10x over non-loyalty leaders.
Loyalty is driven by consistently solving a client’s problem with a nuanced experience aligned with their expectations. Employee up/down/across your organization will support this because it is why they “signed up to play.” They live to solve clients’ problems and revel in a client’s success and delighted reaction. What better way to align a growth initiative (the economics of loyalty) with an inspiring and easily sellable alignment to a company’s key cultural value of client focus. The challenge for many firms is moving from including client focused language in brand messaging to making it the test for all considerations, decisions and actions. A test that employees understand and will rally to.
UNSUNG LOYALTY ECONOMICS
“…brand is what they say about you after you have left the room…” Chris Drucker.
Consider the brands in your own life. Those that you stick with (and even stick-up for) have secured in your mind they truly want you to succeed in solving your challenges. For this, you remain loyal. That loyalty is not only to continuing to do business with them but maybe utilizing a new capability. It also means you would likely forgive a mistake (e.g., assigning a less than optimal resource to your project).
When a real problem develops, you are much more likely to pick up the phone and call them first before dialing your attorney. The same is true for clients of AEC firms. Brand loyalty is a personal and emotional connection. With a commitment to client success (as defined by the client) you build on your brand promise to bring each client and each client’s project successfully across their finish line.
About the Author: Terry Reynolds is a 25-year veteran of marketing across multiple industries (consumer products, semiconductors, professional services). He has led corporate marketing for a mid-sized design firm the last 9 years managing the company’s brand, reputation, and client loyalty programs. At Client Savvy, he works across our client’s organization to ensure their success from defining their client experience strategy through leveraging client insight to improve revenue, profit and employee engagement. Terry is an active blogger on LinkedIn focusing on the business impact of putting your clients at the center of everything you do. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Folsom, California. He can be reached at email@example.com or 916-889-6681.
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