A Guarantee for Client Retention: Experience
By: Christine Hollinden
There's a reason Starbucks can increase its coffee prices and face little resistance. Simply put, the concept is designed to make its customers feel a connection. From the people to the ambiance – it’s about the complete experience.
The ultimate goal of marketing your service from the inside out should be to make your clients feel a genuine connection to the experience. It’s about trusting your firm, valuing your firm and doing business with your firm. When clients are satisfied, they stay AND they send you referrals.
How can your firm deliver the complete client experience? It’s easier than you think.
By definition, professional service firms deliver “service!” Yet, I’m surprised at how many service firms focus solely on their technical experience and little on the client experience. To change the experience your firm is delivering, identify experience gaps. Begin by taking the time to see what it’s like to do business with your firm from the clients’ point of view. Examine the entire process – from beginning to end. Don’t overlook the small experiences.
- Web Experience. It’s commonplace for a prospect’s first experience with our firm to be the web site. What message does your web site deliver? What tone does it set? What expectation? Is it easy for the prospect to communicate with you? If it takes more than one or two clicks, the answer is “no.” Put your contact information front and center.
- Telephone Experience. How is a prospect greeted when they call? Have you trained your front desk person how to specifically handle prospect calls? What happens if the person who typically takes those calls is out of the office? Are they re-routed to another “live” person or simply dumped into voice mail?
- Office Experience. Do prospects know how to get to your office? Is parking convenient and is it clear where the prospect is to park? Which elevator bank to take? Are they greeted in the lobby? Is office décor supporting your brand message?
- Initial Meeting Experience. Are initial prospect meetings choreographed and planned strategically? Does the prospect know where to sit? Given a seat of honor at the conference table? Do you know their favorite beverage ahead of time?
- Communication Experience. How is the proposal delivered? Are email communications aligned with firm expectations? How do voice mail messages sound?
- Client Onboarding Experience. If there’s paperwork involved, is it organized and efficient? Is it easy for the client to complete? Is the data requested from the client necessary or gathered because “that’s what we’ve always requested?”
- Fee Experience. How are fees discussed? How are invoices delivered? What happens if a client doesn’t pay an invoice? Is the conversation pleasant or awkward? Who makes that contact?
It isn’t expensive to create a memorable experience. Here are a few suggestions:
- Train your front desk person on your brand (don’t assume they know no matter how long they’ve been there).
- Listen to everyone’s voice mail recording. Is it consistent? Pleasant? Set an expectation for responsiveness
- Send prospects or new clients a map to your office 2-3 days prior with specific instructions on parking and building access (e.g., specific elevator bank, getting a visitor’s badge at the guard station, etc.).
- Reserve a space for your prospect to park and put their name on the spot. Simply print their name in large type on a piece of paper and tape it to one of your visitor’s spots where they can see it.
- Place a welcome sign in the lobby area of your office space, again with their name. A plexiglass frame works great, a flat-screen is even better.
- Have your assistant touch base with the prospect’s assistant prior to the first meeting to inquire about beverage preference. Tea drinkers are really impressed when you offer their favorite brand and flavor. (In case you are wondering, I’m a Tazo Zen kinda gal!) And, when you offer them a beverage, look at the cup or glass. Does it say “this is just another meeting” or “you are an important guest?”
Every client touch-point, no matter how small, should be a comfortable experience. When the experience is outstanding, fees make very little difference. Is your firm doing everything possible to create a positive experience throughout the entire process? Does it go beyond their expectations or is it just like every other unforgettable experience? Find one or two small things to change. You’ll be pleasantly surprised as to how one small, inexpensive gesture can complete the client experience.
Posted on Mon, July 1, 2013
by Christine Hollinden