In the last article, we covered the first two steps of the four steps in the Client Experience (CX). I broke down understanding the Client Experience three-legged stool, the foundation (step one). And then I shared how to start a CX for maximum impact (step two).
Now we will shift to unpacking the final two steps in the CX. Overall these four steps will give you a great starting point to understanding your CX.
(Remember, the abbreviation for Client Experience is CX.)
Here are the four steps again for your reference. If you didn’t read Part One, I encourage you to do so before reading this article.
4 Crucial Steps to a Killer Client Experience (CX)
- Understanding the CX foundation
- How to start a client experience for maximum impact
- Determine your CX stages
- How to nail the authentic WOW
Let’s dive in to the third step and then the fourth step.
[After reading this article, check out the Stacey Brown Randall Live Show (Episode 19) where I go more in depth on the final two steps of the 4 steps of a client experience.]
Crucial Step #3: Determine your CX stages
Did you know that your clients go through stages when working with you? You may have assumed that in the beginning of working with you clients go through a period of being “new.” But what about the rest of the time they are a client?
It is important to understand the stages your clients go through, so you can apply both part of the CX formula to each stage. The CX formula is the work touch points (the work you do) plus the relationship you build (connecting with them, showing you care).
You cannot just focus on delivering high quality work throughout their time as a client, you have to pay equal attention to building and strengthening the relationship as well.
Most businesses have between two to three stages. Let’s look at each stage (new, ongoing, and alumni) and some guidelines I provide will help you determine if you have two or three stages.
1. New Stage
Did you know that 48% of consumers say that the most critical time to gain their loyalty is when they make their first purchase?
That does put a whole new perspective on making sure you have a CX that matters, particularly making sure you deliver on the CX right from the start…during the “new” stage.
If you are wondering if you have this stage, the new stage, you do. The new stage is the one stage all clients have in common, regardless of industry.
And nailing your new client stage is not only important to gain loyalty but to make sure your client actually “sticks.”
According to Joey Coleman of Design Symphony, his research has found that across all industries, businesses lose 20% to 60% of new customers within the first 100 days.
The new stage is a critical piece to turning a new client into a long-term client or a repeat client. It is during this stage that the client is assessing if they made the right choice to work with you and if you will be the one to solve their issues. Overcoming buyer’s remorse is real and your new client stage can help you do that. Which means you need to have a CX that focuses on not only starting to deliver high-quality work but to make a connection and start building a relationship with your clients. And in case you have forgotten…the new stage begins the moment the client decides to do business with you.
But how long does the new client stage last? Well that is for you to determine. It may be the first few days, first 30 days, or first year. This is determined by how your business runs and how you interact with your clients.
For me, my clients are only in the new stage for a few weeks before they move on stage #2…the “ongoing stage.”
2. Ongoing Stage
Once a client moves out of the new stage they move into the ongoing stage. There are two main parameters to consider for your ongoing stage…is it for a fixed time period or does it continue indefinitely?
For some this stage can last until the work is done and then the client moves on to the next stage (stage #3). But not for everyone.
For those who have a clear start and end-point to the ongoing stage, the end-point is typically when the work or project is done.
For example, a realtor…the new stage may be getting the house on the market and then moves into the ongoing stage to get the house under contract and then sold. The clear end-point of the ongoing stage is the house being sold.
Or consider a mortgage broker helping a client buy a new home. The new stage may be processing the pre-approval, but the ongoing stage starts once client finds the home they want to buy and then the ongoing stage continues until the loan closes.
Another example is a business or life coach where the new stage may be the point from saying yes to coaching through the first session. But after the first session, the client moves into the ongoing stage for the remainder of their coaching sessions, which could last for 6 months, a year or longer. But the end-point of the ongoing phase is when they are finished with coaching.
On the other hand, if the work with your client never ends then the ongoing stage never ends.
For example, a CPA or book keeper. The CPA wants to prepare your taxes every year so maybe the new stage ends once they prepare your taxes for the first time and then every subsequent year after is considered the ongoing stage.
The same with a financial advisor or commercial or property & casualty insurance agent. In the case of a financial advisor – they want to work with you each year, managing your assets and making sure that you are protected as your life changes (new baby, aging parents, etc). Just as a P&C insurance agent wants to make sure you have auto, home or business insurance each year.
Only you can determine – by the work you do – if you have the type of business where the ongoing stage has an end-point or if it is ongoing indefinitely.
If your ongoing stage has an end-point, then you move on to the third stage.
3. Alumni Stage
Once your client moves out of the “ongoing” stage (if they do) then they become an alumni client. Now maybe you have never referred to your client as an alumni client, but you should. True “alumni” is another way to say “past” or “previous” client but “alumni” has a different ring to it. It means still connected though not active…just like alumni for colleges and universities.
This is important stage to NOT overlook. It is here you can continue to nurture relationships with clients to become repeat clients and of course provide referrals.
When a client reaches this point, they may hear from you in different ways – no more communicating about the work or project on a weekly basis but nonetheless, they still need to hear from you.
Now you could argue that looking at the stages your clients go through in just two to three stages is overly simplifying your CX. But I have found working with my clients that when we keep it simple, the more likely they are to be able to build and execute on their CX (which is the ultimate goal).
Now that you have your stages, let’s consider what we are supposed to do during those stages.
The Touch Points
When thinking of the client stages consider what you do in terms of touch points. The touch points fall into two categories you should be familiar with (if you are not, read this) the work touch points (the delivery of services) and relationship touch points where you build connections (think personalized Christmas card).
It is important to map out your stages, time length of each stage and the touch points within each (both work and relationship). Then work to build a repeatable process that is effective and efficient for you.
Don’t over-complicate this. In my Sticky Client Experience program, students go through just three modules to help them identify their stages (including the length of their stages), what their work and relationship touch points are now and what they should be (with lots of examples) to shift them from a non-existent or average CX to a sticky one that builds loyalty and positions them for referrals.
Now let’s look at the fourth and final crucial step to having a killer (or sticky) CX.
During the FREE 5 Day Sticky Client Experience Challenge you can learn more about how these stages work in your business and what some important touch points look like throughout each stage. But to participate in the Challenge you have to sign up.
Crucial Step #4: How to nail the authentic WOW
First, let me answer what I mean by an authentic WOW. When you have a WOW as part of your client experience you provide an opportunity for your clients to feel more connected to you, for them to believe you are more invested in them (because you are) and to provide a feeling that you are the type of business owner to go above and beyond.
And what is crazy…it only takes a small gesture for them to feel those ways toward you.
A small gesture that lets them know you aren’t the typical ________ (fill in the blank…realtor, CPA, coach, broker, financial advisor, attorney, photographer, banker, small business owner, etc.)
Which is why I tell my clients that you cannot afford to not have a WOW, particularly if you are in a crowded marketplace (and who is not these days?!).
When you think through the steps of your client experience – the work touch points and the relationship touch points – your goal is to identify one thing you can do that most in your industry or role don’t do and then make that one thing your WOW.
My client experience has two WOWs…a specific card I write to all new clients around their first session (called the Journey Card™) and a book I mail after the coaching engagement has ended.
But you only need one…so take a moment and think about what your WOW could be. Your client experience won’t be complete without it.
Remember, to truly understand what a CX is and what you are trying to deliver on is best summed up with this Maya Angelou quote…
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
[Emphasis added is mine.]
A Client Experience is how you make a client feel. What you need to build is a repeatable process with the 2 or 3 stages in mind and one significant WOW factor that allows you to deliver in a way your competitors do not.
So now you understand what is a CX, how to start it successfully, your CX stages and how to nail the authentic WOW in your CX.
I invite you to join me for the FREE 5 Day Sticky Client Experience Challenge from February 5 – 9. Learn how to put these four steps into practice into your client experience. During the Challenge you will receive a daily email with a small action or “challenge” to take to improve your Client Experience. And I’ll support you through the Challenge by going live every day in the free Facebook group to discuss the daily challenge and answer your questions!
In the next article I will show you how – using a real example – you can elevate your Client Experience. In the meantime, please download this simple assessment so you can rate how you are doing with your current Client Experience.