FROM THE BLOG
Client Experience is the Differentiator of the Future
Posted by Tarah Carlow on July 11, 2018
What are you serving?
As we look towards the second half of 2018, both reflection on what you have accomplished and anticipation for what is yet to come occupy equal mind-share. The markets have been up and down and all around. You have interviewed new money managers, developed a new tactical model or two, and done monthly client check-ins. How many of you have done a tune-up of your Client Experience (CX)? Do you have a documented Client Experience (CX)?
When examining your relationships with your clients, consider this: Emotions are king and a positive emotional outcome is the best predictor of loyalty…AND you can’t win at emotions if you lose at ease. Easy=happy and good.
In 2018-19, there is estimated to be little differentiation amongst business owners from a marketing stand-point. Everyone says the client comes first, that they have state of the art products and that service is their top priority. But how do you show these things? Do you actually have a plan beyond trying to remember names, sending birthday cards, and presenting a coffee menu upon arrival? What are you actually doing to make your clients’ lives easier?
No amount of clever or beautiful marketing pieces can change the realities of what clients actually experience; this is why it is so critical for your brand promise and your client experience to be carefully and strategically aligned.
Otherwise, neither mean a thing. CX is the new marketing king. It’s no longer what a business says about themselves that matters, but rather what others say and what clients experience that carries the weight. In the future, firms will compete more on the experiences they deliver than on the services they provide. In the most basic sense, your brand is a promise made to your prospects and clients… and that promise is realized in the experiences you serve up.
A word of caution: People often miss important information when taking a deep dive into exploring their CX. Try really hard not to employ selective perceptions and prior habits into the conversation. If you keep an open mind, or better yet hire a neutral third party for this part, you will have a distinct advantage over those who only hear what they want to hear. Merely hearing what you want to hear only makes it easier on you; not your client.
Sustained competitive advantage only happens when it can’t be easily imitated. Anyone can hire people that will check boxes and call people back or answer emails. Anyone can hire away a rockstar employee for the right price, lower their fees, or buy new software. But as we all know, competing on price eventually leads to becoming a price-based practice and that is hard to sustain. Same with running a check-the-boxes practice. Your clients can easily find someone else to do that.
Today’s clients are looking for solutions to their problems with a higher level of detail and service. A Walker survey says that by 2020, CX will overtake both price and product as a key brand differentiator – clients will be looking for an exceptional client experience from all phases of the relationship.
This isn’t all bad news – Since “delighting” clients truly only happens 16% of the time, what you consider above and beyond is often taken for granted. And to add insult to injury, a delight strategy by givebacks, extra time, etc., usually adds 10-20% in cost to the bottom line. What then truly makes for a remarkable client experience?
Make it easy for your clients to do business with you.
There is no magic tonic. Did you know that a client is 4x more likely to become disloyal to your business after basic service interactions with a mainline person? Some common annoyances which eat away at a relationship are:
- Repeat contacts without follow-up
- Robotic service
- Clunky or repetitive policies and processes
- Hiding behind technology
- Being blindly transferred and starting over
Remove obstacles and make it easy to do business with your company. No one much cares if you’re “nice”. When a problem arises, 30% of clients report that they have to spend a high level of effort to resolve a problem. This is the largest part of the CX for them when it becomes hard.
Multiple contact channels and options only confuse customers and increase costs. Let me cull out and paraphrase a piece of that sentence,“Multiple options only confuse clients and increase costs.”If in your expert opinion, there is a best-practice way to do something, make that “the way”, and have the confidence to explain why. Make it easy for them. There are plenty of other things in life our client’s need to decide. Look at your processes – are there ways to streamline and still accomplish the same result? Every single interaction with your client is part of their CX. Sit and write them down – where can each interaction be made easier? If you don’t know, its time to put yourself in your client’s shoes and do a CX check-up.
Want more proof? Clients who report that they have high-effort experiences have a 96% disloyalty vs 9% who feel like it is easy to resolve an issue with a firm. Issues happen. How you resolve your client issues can become a competitive advantage. Strategy across all facets of your business, from the receptionist, sales assistant, office manager, marketing associate, and the advisor is the only way to combat the above.
And it’s not just about keeping the current clients that you have. LinkedIn has found that 84% of interactions start with some kind of a referral. Furthermore, NPS analytics from Bain & Co. have shown that new clients obtained via referrals are immediately more profitable than those coming via traditional means; and more loyal to start. It’s a win-win all the way around to really think about your business this way.
Businesses that are providing an exceptional CX across the entire client life cycle are creating genuine differentiation and a sustained competitive advantage. By focusing on true client needs, you can build a strategy and culture that seeks to consistently elevate the CX and market your business in a way that no one else can copy.