CX: Just marketing’s current flavour of the month or a vital component to your firm’s growth?
28 Sep 2018
Firstly I’m guessing a few of you might not know what CX stands for, it stands for client experience – what is it actually like to work with you? How do clients really feel while they’re working with you?
If you’re switching off now because this all sounds a bit fluffy, please don’t! Read on because client experience is absolutely pivotal to achieving the growth you want. OK, that kind of answers the question in the title straight off the bat but let me explain why. You may be the most technically brilliant solicitor, patent attorney, barrister or accountant but if you’re not delivering your advice in the way the client wants or if you’re perceived as stand-offish or hard to get hold of, you may be at risk of weakening the relationships that deliver your firm’s revenue.
Moreover, if your clients (and, for that matter, referrers) aren’t closing each matter having enjoyed a positive experience, it’s not going to be very likely that they’ll refer you to their family, friends and colleagues and that will block your easiest, most productive and most profitable route to new business.
A little dramatic? Not at all. Buyers of anything and everything let alone professional services are more promiscuous, more demanding and more likely to find alternatives than ever before if they’re not getting what they want. The internet has made location an irrelevance for many practice areas and the sheer volume of competition available to buyers has made them hungry for the best service at the best rates and with the best added value extras.
The answer therefore is to you need to make sure your service offering - i.e. the client experience you offer – delivers everything your clients wants; keep the client happy and you’ll keep the client.
The first step is to invest in some kind of client listening programme.
Don’t make assumptions on your clients’ behalf, get them to tell you what they like, dislike, want to see improved and just as crucially, what their other professional advisers offer so you can – *ahem* – ‘appropriate’ some of those ideas.
The next step is to look outside the legal or accountancy sectors and draw inspiration from the household names people use every day. It is no coincidence that 92% of Fortune 500 companies now not only have a client experience plan but dedicated client experience teams to implement those plans. While I appreciate your firm or chambers won’t have the luxury of such resources, these companies are quick to promote the good things they are recognised for so, again, a little ‘appropriation’ may give you some ideas as to how you can improve your client experience.
The following are 6 top tips I’ve picked up whilst reading in to the subject of client experience:
1 People like a bit of luxury
While this actually refers to the level of positivity surrounding luxury brands and fashion brands in particular, it does have an application to the professional services. What do your clients walk in to when they come in to your offices? Does reception look like the entrance into a cutting edge contemporary commercial entity or is it a bit tired? The same goes for your meeting rooms. Also how are your clients greeted? Like they’re the most important person in the room or like they’re an unwanted distraction from the meeting room booking system, Facebook or the BBC news channel?
2 Airline and telecom brands are the most responsive
Research has repeatedly shown telecom companies and airlines respond quickest online and via social media. How quickly do you respond to feedback (good and bad) and/or enquiries? Do you use the questions you’re asked most regularly to inform the next additions to your online FAQs or next e-marketing campaign or blog? I mention that because if those are the questions some people are asking you, the answers will probably be of use to your other clients and are likely to match what your potential clients are Googling.
3 The Harley Davidson Family
Once you buy a Harley, you become part of the Harley family for life. You join the 325,000 members of the Harley Owners Group and are immediately connected with riders all over the world. What are you doing to connect your clients with each other? How do you manage your referrer relationships, are you introducing the ones who could benefit from knowing each other (e.g. wealth managers, personal tax advisers and private client solicitors or commercial property solicitors, lenders and surveyors)? Think of your client base as you own owners group and make the connections that will add value to your clients’ association with you.
4 Empowered Amazonians
Yes Amazon will deliver everything you want quickly and easily and are always looking to innovate to make the whole process even easier but behind the scenes they have empowered their staff to provide instant solutions when things go wrong. How empowered are your staff to deal with complaints or service issues as they arise? If they have to acknowledge the clients’ criticism then keep them waiting for an answer while they scrabble around looking for the right partner or director, that is only going to irritate the client even more.
KYC is a term I picked up working with one of the UK’s largest wealth management companies; it means Know Your Client. Netflix know their clients intimately and are growing fast because they use that knowledge. By collecting live data on our viewing habits they can offer super-personalised recommendations on what they may want to watch next. How well do you know your clients? And how good are you at anticipating their next moves and – more importantly – the advice and support they’ll need as they make those moves?
6 Deem’s one stop shop
If you’ve not heard of them (and I hadn’t until I started researching CX) Deem is a mobile and cloud-based corporate travel agency platform. Their CX strategy is to automate as much as possible to reduce the amount of effort their users need to expend while using their tools. To do that they have forged some key commercial partnerships with their own service providers. Have you ever sat down to work out who your clients’ other service providers are and discussed how you could be partnering with them to make your clients’ lives easier? ‘White papering’ is an old term but that doesn’t make it any less valid than when it came into use all those years ago. The ‘supermarket principle’ (one shop that meets all your food, drink, home and health needs to save you going to the butcher, the baker, the fruit and veg man, the chemist etc.) is just as applicable to lawyers and accountants as it is to the FMCG world. OK, you won’t all be under one roof but you can make it look like you are!
If you see the value of improving your client experience and would like to take the first step and discuss a possible client research project, please email me today and I can explain the process and the benefits in more detail.
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