As an agency, the key to stabilising your business is by having long-term clients; the kind that stays with you for over two years and where you become an integral part of their business – just as much as they are to yours.
If you’re able to nail this magic relationship, not only will your finance department and investors be happy, but the quality of work you’re able to produce will also increase due to your knowledge of their business.
This is why you’ll often hear the words ‘So how do we improve the client experience?’ within the agency environment.
What is Client Experience?
“Customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction includes a customer’s attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy and purchase and use of a service.”
If you’re on the ball, you’ll notice that Google has determined that client experience equals customer experience. The words become interchangeable in this context when you understand that despite the service nature of agency work, a client is still buying, therefore, they are a customer. That’s lesson 1.
As Google suggests, following on from users searching for the definition of customer experience, people then normally want to know how to manage it. The elements that make up customer experience management become key to building a strategy that will support your business in having happy customers.
Lesson 2: Understand Your Relationships
In order to improve the experience of your customers, you need to work out the base level of how you’re performing now. Benchmarking means understanding the types of relationships you have with your customers at present.
If you’re an agency, classify all of your clients into these categories:
- “Promoters. Loyal enthusiasts who keep buying from you and urge their friends to do the same.
- Passive. Satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who can be easily wooed by the competition.
- Detractors. Unhappy customers who feel trapped in a bad relationship.”
This is taken from a Forbes article which suggests you calculate your Net Promoter Score by subtracting the number of detractors from the number of promoters and passive clients you have. This will provide a metric of how content your customers are, rather than just looking at revenue as a measure of success.
Lesson 3: Set Goals, understand what you want, build a strategy
Every business needs a good customer experience and to develop that there needs to be a strategy. However, before rushing into the implementation of a strategy document, it’s important to begin with the goals and understanding the core objectives.
Is your customer experience system in place just to drive sales? Are you trying to generate referrals? Reduce the strain on your customer service team?
As an agency, the happier our clients are with the service they’re receiving, the less reactive account management we have to do. This puts the power of where our time is spent back into our hands more than if we’re answering a series of calls and emails due to concerned clients. It’s in our best interest to have the best customer experience as then we can spend time driving results for them.
Lesson 4: Your customers are not homogenous, nor should your tactics be
One of the biggest trends in marketing is the rise of persona marketing. We all know the common themes amongst our customers and strive to make our services meet the needs of these groups.
Whether you choose to have one persona group, or six, or ten, there will always be outliers from your typical customer. Furthermore, the difference between consumer (a potential purchaser of your service) and customer, means a whole new complexity of to your personas as you also try and target those who might not already be purchasing from you.
The most frustrating thing for any customer to hear across any business is ‘We have a policy…’ Every business needs customer service policies and guidelines on how to deal with the average complaint or enquiry, but what about those extra special circumstances?
Providing those interacting with your customers the most the flexibility to make sensible decisions based on the circumstances will enable them to assess what matters the most to each individual they deal with and make that the priority.
The best way to do this is to have a top-line strategy; a clear mission statement of the values your business holds will support staff to make the right decisions that relate back to this core. By doing that, each person will feel empowered to make immediate choices, without that annoying ‘let me get my manager’ conversation, whilst knowing they are doing what is best for the business.
From this strategy, an employee will be able to develop their own tactics for resolving the problems they face. Of course, successful tactics or answers to commonly occurring problems may become commonplace across the whole business, but flexibility to let these develop organically will ensure they’re the most customer-centric.
Lesson 5: Think beyond your direct customers
When you say client experience you’ll immediately think of those people that you have direct transactions with, but it’s important to think bigger. Whilst it’s clear those that are buying from you are important, you should also factor in the other people your business interacts with – including the employees – in order to boost overall experience.
Each and every interaction in your business needs to be a positive experience, as ultimately this will support the overall level of service everyone experiences – to put it simply, treat others as you wish to be treated.
You can’t ensure that all your customer’s are perfectly courteous to your employees, but you can ensure that you demonstrate how much you value them and thereby improve morale.
High morale = Harder workers = Better Experience for your customers