We are wrapping up our series on understanding and applying the 4 crucial steps to a killer client experience.
In today’s article I will unpack and apply the four steps using a few real examples. I won’t dive deep into explaining each of the four steps so if you need to review the four steps in detail, please check out the two previous posts listed below.
[After reading this article, check out the Stacey Brown Randall Live Show (Episode 20) where I go more in depth on the examples in all 4 steps of the client experience.]
Okay, here are the four steps…let’s dive in to applying examples to each.
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
(Remember, the abbreviation for Client Experience is CX.)
Step 1: Application of understanding the CX foundation
A client experience is how you make a client feel. And the feelings they have direct the attitudes and behaviors they exhibit toward your business. Do they become repeat clients, provide testimonials, speak positively about you on social media, or give you referrals? Without a strong CX your chances of these behaviors happening is slim.
Your CX foundation is the mindset you need to have. You need to know (and accept) what it is, why it matters and when it starts.
Here’s an example.
I was speaking to a financial advisor a few years ago teaching her one of the 3 parts of the CX foundation, the Client Experience Formula™. The Client Experience Formula includes two parts… the work you do and the relationship you build with your clients. I explained that to move from merely satisfied clients to loyal ones you need to cultivate the relationship, go a little farther with connecting outside of just the work touch points – creating/reviewing the financial plans, paperwork, answering questions, yearly annual reviews, etc.
She adamantly disagreed and said, “the work I do is quality and it should speak for itself.”
Unfortunately, this is a common answer I receive.
So, I asked her, “How many financial planners/advisors are in your area?”
Her response, “Definitely a thousand, but probably a few thousand.”
“Don’t you think most of them do quality work and represent quality products and services?” I asked.
“Well,” she hesitated, “yes.”
I responded, “In your industry, doing quality work is the minimum – compliance tries to hold you to that. It is the minimum requirement for all advisors (or at least it should be). And you can provide a minimum Client Experience and just focus on quality work.”
But then I asked, “How many referrals did you receive last year?”
“Not many,” she said sheepishly.
“But your goal is more referrals and stickier clients, right?” I asked.
“Yes, of course” she said.
“Well why would I refer to you if all I receive is the minimum you are capable of providing?” I continued, “If I only hear from you around my annual review or to receive your monthly or quarterly “company generated” emailed newsletter… how is that connecting with me – or any of your clients – on a deeper level?”
For your CX to work you must accept the mindset… you have to understand the foundation. To hit my point home with the financial advisor, I went on to ask of the referrals received, who did they come from? Her response – the clients she was closest too, had built a relationship with. They referred her because their CX was above the minimum allowing them to develop specific attitudes and behaviors about her.
Step 2: Application of how to start a CX for maximum impact
Have you ever purchased a product or said yes to hiring someone and then you started to question your decision?
I know I have.
Ever wonder where that comes from?
In some cases, we know… like the sales person who was ever present during the sales process and then once we bought, they seemed to disappear.
But other times – as consumers – we aren’t sure. We can’t verbalize it. We just know we wanted to solve a problem and after selecting the person who can solve it, we have become unsure of our decision. Buyer’s remorse. And it is real.
But there are two levels of buyer’s remorse. The first is the “disappearing salesperson” – we aren’t conflicted, we know in our gut we made a bad choice. Our options are to hope for the best or get out of it.
But the other level of buyer’s remorse is that lukewarm feeling…not 100% sure we made a bad choice, not 100% sure we made a good choice. We don’t know what happens next so we question our decision.
What we are missing are the expectations.
And I’m going to use myself for this example. Before I had figured out the importance of a CX and how to easily apply it to my business, I did a lot of “winging it.”
Sound familiar? (hmmm…)
I had one coaching client crystalize the importance of setting expectations for me in a painful way. Painful for me, not sure it was painful for him.
When I started my business back in 2013, one of my main service offerings was one-on-one coaching sessions and my typical coaching engagement was for six months, two sessions per month, one hour each. But when I started out I didn’t have a “cancellation of session” clause in my contract. [Note to all business, life, executive, divorce, parenting coaches…all coaches…have a “cancellation of session” clause in your agreement.]
Of course, after this painful lesson, I immediately included a “cancellation of session” clause in all contracts and it includes what happens when you cancel an individual session, like cancelling the day of, day before or are a no show. Anything with more than 2-days’ notice can be worked around, last minute cancellations and no shows cannot.
A professional coach trades “dollars for hours” …in fact many business owners do. So, when a client cancels at the last minute, you cannot re-sell that lost hour and now have to give up a future hour you could sell for the reschedule.
This one client cancelled all the time. I was constantly juggling his last-minute requests for changes and it was financially hurting my business. And though I am not proud of this, it probably hurt the coaching I did do for him because my frustration ran high. I had to let him go as a client. I can’t imagine he had a great experience either.
And it was all because I didn’t set that cancellation expectation up-front. But don’t think having the clause in the contract is all you have to do to set the expectation. No one should be surprised when they read your contract or agreement. You must be willing to talk about the “uncomfortable” items so you can effectively set expectations. It then became common practice for me to talk through what to expect after the new client said yes to working with me. But this goes beyond just a cancellation clause, you need to provide a road map to explain what it will be like to work with you.
When I figured out how to leverage expectation setting in my business, so many things became easier and more comfortable for all involved.
If you want to improve your Client Experience in a practical, simple and FREE way let me help you. Sign up now for the wait list for the next FREE 5-Day Sticky Client Experience Challenge. Join now…it’s free!!
Step 3: Application of your CX stages
Step 3 of the CX is understanding the different stages your clients go through, throughout their time working with you. The three stages are new, ongoing, and alumni (previous/past clients). If your clients work with you for years and years…think CPA, financial advisor, etc.…then you have the first two stages. If your work has an end point…like a realtor, mortgage broker, business coach, consultant, home builder, etc.…then you have all three stages.
Identifying your stages is the first step, but then you have to go a step further. You must understand the work and relationship-building touchpoints which are included (or should be included) in each step.
I find many business owners who have all three steps overlook the alumni stage. Many don’t take advantage of the connection they have to past clients and how continuing to cultivate that relationship can be fruitful. They may come back to work with you and for years – with the right cultivation – can send you referrals.
Cultivating your alumni clients is easier than you think…
Many years ago (with my first business – an HR Consulting Firm), I worked with a publicist named Howard Bailen. He was fantastic to work with – he secured articles for me in publications such as Accounting Today and Workforce Management and was responsible for my interview with Bloomberg news, among many others. So, you could say his work was excellent and I was thrilled with the results. But it was after we stopped working together that he really endeared me to him.
What I mean is that after we stopped working together he has continued to reach out in a meaningful and memorable way. We are going on 7 years now! His outreach to me as an “alumni” client is not intrusive because he provides quality information and resources that are focused on my needs, not a generic newsletter about all he has accomplished for other clients. His follow up is personal as every so often he asks about my kids and my business. And sometimes his outreach is humorous…Howard is old school and occasionally sends newspaper cartoons (in an email) that are funny and timely.
His follow up transcends just keeping in touch and he is able to stay top of mind. To that end I have even referred him a couple of times. I don’t come across many people in his specific niche but when I do, I tell them about Howard.
But did you notice the thread that runs throughout his outreach…he does all of this over email. Meaning he doesn’t spend money but he does spend time. And I don’t hear from him every month, just occasionally throughout the year. But it is the personalization of his touch points that makes his alumni stage a home run.
Step 4: Application of how to nail your authentic WOW
We learned in Part Two, across all industries, 20% to 60% of businesses lose customers in the first 100 days.
Knowing the new client stage exists for all businesses (see step 3 above), we need to incorporate a WOW to help strengthen our client relationship. Now you may include more than one WOW in your CX and it doesn’t have to be during the new client stage, but at least one WOW is needed to connect on a deeper level with our clients.
And an authentic WOW does not need to be earth shattering or expensive, sometimes it is the simple ideas that work best.
A few years ago, I decided to find a new massage therapist and test out acupuncture. I went to a few massage therapists and had a similar experience after each of my massages.
They all started the same way…I called and scheduled the appointment. I received a reminder a day or two before the appointment and the massage was great. In some cases, I went ahead and pre-bought a few more massages.
But then everything changed and that excited feeling for each of the new massage therapists soon shifted to just so-so.
Since those first massages, I didn’t hear from any of the therapists (and I mean in months, not just days). This doesn’t take away from the great massage but there is no WOW factor…like a simple thank you note for being a first-time client, no follow up email to say they miss me and it is time to schedule my next appointment.
Now compare that to the acupuncturist I made an appointment with. I reached out and scheduled the appointment. The appointment was great (even though I don’t like needles) and a few days after the appointment I received a call to check in and see how I was doing. That call was enough to send me back for a second appointment and a few more after that. [Full disclosure, my fear of needles eventually won out and I stopped going.]
There was nothing earth shattering or budget busting with the acupuncturist’s outreach. Just a call that took her less than 5 minutes to make.
But my perception of the experiences is different. I told a few people about my acupuncturist appointment prompted by the follow up. I’d be happy to talk about the massage therapists but there hasn’t been anything to trigger it.
And that is what the WOW is after…to solidify how I feel about the person or company and to trigger other actions…like becoming a repeat customer, telling other people about the service, sending referrals, etc.
It doesn’t matter your line of work…a strong CX is crucial to your business.
Let me show you how to make your CX stronger…sign up for the wait list for the next FREE 5-Day Sticky Client Experience Challenge. When the next Challenge launches I will send you a daily small action or “challenge” to take to make your CX better than it is now.
I encourage you to review all three articles in this series of the four crucial steps to a killer client experience.