CX and Why You Need To Know About It
May 17, 2017 by Mel Telecican
7 min read
When people learn I host a podcast, the first question they usually ask is, ‘what’s it about?’. When I explain it’s about client experiences (CX) to drive business growth, generally speaking the reply is “yes, service is bad here in Australia”. I usually nod in agreement but go on to explain that CX is not just a need to boost service standards. It’s more about developing client relationships, improving and refining processes, incorporating helpful mechanisms and boosting overall outcomes. Simply put, making it easy for people to do business with them.
The second question I’m typically asked is, ‘what got you interested in that area?’. My interest in CX comes from having my own business where, I can now say, I was wrong to believe we were client-centric. My perception was flawed because I never really did much more than accept feedback and make adjustments. And of course, I gladly accepted praise when it was given. I couldn’t see it then, but I can now – I thought we offered a unique experience but I failed to investigate opportunities for improvement with any real depth. I was looking to the leaders in my industry and mirrored their marketing efforts in many ways – advertising where they were, observing their efficiencies and applying those that fit to my business. Biggest lesson? There’s a reason people go to one business over another. The experience appealed to those people more there, than with us. If only I’d been focusing on ‘our people’ and devising ways to attract more people like them, how much easier it would have been…
It takes a lot of ‘everything’ to run a good business so we often find ourselves working harder than ever, bringing on more staff and burning the candle at both ends far too many times than we’d care to count. All because we believe in the work we do, along with the opportunity it provides us to achieve some bigger personal goals we’ve set for ourselves. It’s easy to become caught up in the day-to-day operations of keeping a business running smoothly. Many of us haven’t yet achieved the degree of freedom or heights of success we mapped out when we first took it on. The good news? It’s still absolutely within reach.
As consumers ourselves, we know that we’re never particularly excited when we get what we expect from a product or service. For businesses, growth is triggered when clients get more than they expected. To be clear, not more in terms of workload for the team or financial discount for clients, but in terms of trust and advocacy – the outcomes that motivate repeat business and referrals.
For your ideal clients, the exceptional experience comes from any contact with your business across a range of moments in time that create feelings of ease, comfort, security, confidence…maybe even relief! Not just from the successful outcome of your working together, but throughout the entire process.
Think about when you needed to make a decision on an accountant or lawyer for yourself. There is a tipping point – a moment you commit to trust an individual or business enough to engage their services. You’re most likely to have asked advice from people whose opinion you value. When given a recommendation, the majority of us will do our own independent research but the decision is likely to weigh more heavily in the favour of the business whose client is endorsing them with glowing commentary.
Think about the number of clients that have referred clients on to you across a calendar year. Could that be increased? Now think about the volume of referrals each provides your business. Could that number be increased? Unless you’re sitting at a 90%+ referral rate, you bet it could! If you get to the point where you have a significant number of advocates, then getting new leads is not nearly as costly or as difficult as it might be for you right now.
Improving the client experience can have many benefits depending on the business’ goals. Implementation of a CX strategy leads to increased profitability, productivity improvement, optimised processes, boosted employee engagement and a continuous flow of the right type of clients.
We’re in what’s known as the ‘Age of the Customer’. The most progressive and successful businesses in the world are focusing on customer or client experience. We see it in our devices, our interactions in stores and online, with products and services that supersede others in their space. An easy parallel can be drawn with our smartphones. Each time we upgrade a device there are a range of improvements – some novelty, some helpful. It might be the improved clarity of photos, the increased capacity for storage, the better-fitting earphones or the longer battery life. What determines the success is the factual discovery of knowledge of what their target market will appreciate in their products. What they perceive is of value to them – enough to commit to an upgrade of device. Likewise in our businesses, if we analyse our best clients and optimise our service offering in the areas of most need, we are perfectly positioned for business growth.
Identifying opportunities for optimisation comes from investigating the client journey – before they engage your services, during their time with you and after all is complete. All of the channels they go through, the touch points they experience, what they do, think and feel as a result of the process. Identifying opportunities for improvement start out as assumptions, which then need to be validated and assist in the creation of a plan for a future client experience. Many businesses who have undergone some type of client journey mapping often don’t complete the entire process, rendering it useless. Like most things, the outcome is only effective if the work is done in full.
A CX optimisation strategy identifies opportunities for enhancement. These opportunities may be as minor as amendments to communications or incorporating simple productivity measures through to improving a range of processes that currently exist across internal and external platforms. Importantly, these discoveries are more accurate when completed collaboratively – with a range of staff members involved in any touchpoint in the client’s journey, either directly or indirectly – as this provides a clearer picture of how things are done presently and in generating ideas for an optimal experience.
So in addition to interviewing people on the podcast about the success they have with their customers and clients, I facilitate client experience optimisation workshops in professional services such as law, finance and accounting to pinpoint areas of priority to drive growth. I create a strategy for optimisation and assist in managing the implementation phase.
From consulting to these businesses, I find the commonality is that they are not content with the status quo. They value continuous improvement and are open to investigating innovative ways to do business. Importantly, they also demonstrate a genuine respect for the experience and outcomes of their clients.
So to spend less time trying to attract new leads and spend more time getting on with the higher value tasks you have waiting for you, I recommend a focus on breaking down the client experience from start to finish. Validate the team’s findings, map out and most importantly, implement the areas of most need. Always engage a third-party to do this who brings a ‘fresh set of eyes to the table’. Someone who will challenge and question the assumptions, especially in the first stage of the process.
If you are one of these businesses who genuinely care for their clients and believe there’s always a better way of doing things, you deserve to attract more of the clients you like to work with. They are absolutely within your reach; and those clients deserve a better experience. One that will put you front and centre when they or their contacts are next looking for the services you offer.