First things first — client experience is not the same things as client service. Client service is reactive. Client experience, on the other hand, is proactive or even interactive.
There are plenty of reasons why clients remain loyal to one brand over another, not the least of which is their experience as a consumer. Entrepreneur Network partner Patrick Bet-David reports that a strong client experience boils down to five key differentiators.
- Speed: Clients like instant service. No matter what type of consultancy you run, when clients are able to connect, interact and receive practical advice quickly, they’re more likely to become repeat clients.
- Quality: Top consultants know the latest regulations, educate their clients on cutting-edge industry tips, and develop detailed plans to overcome challenges and meet goals. The Tempkin Group found that 87% of clients who had a great experience were likely to repurchase from the same company.
- Price: Although consumers are often willing to pay more for quality, price does still have an impact on buying decisions. The key is to find that sweet spot where you can offer better service than the competition at the best possible price.
- Luxury: We’re not talking about high-ticket items when we talk about luxury. Instead, “luxury” can be exemplified by the way you treat clients. It’s the little things that matter, and when you make each client feel like they’re your one and only or most important client, it’s no surprise they’ll return to you time and again. In fact, research shows that clients may be willing to pay a premium price of up to 18% for this type of luxury treatment.
- Digital user-friendliness: Successful consultants know they need to put their best digital foot forward. That means offering a user-friendly website and recommending easy-to-use apps to help your clients streamline their processes. Consultants who understand and meet their clients’ needs at every touchpoint will stand out from the crowd and win repeat business.
Client service vs. client experience
Client service is exactly what it sounds like — it’s the way in which you serve your clients. For example, a potential client visits your website, finds your contact page and sends you a message. Then they wait for your response to their inquiry. It’s a practical and simple enough process, but there’s certainly nothing memorable (or pleasurable) about the experience.
Of course, providing basic client service is a prerequisite for doing business. However, those who go above and beyond to deliver an enjoyable client experience will quickly rise to the top. Consider the following facts:
- Forbes magazine says 89% of today’s companies compete primarily on the basis of client experience — up from just 36% in 2010.
- A Walker study found that by 2020, client experience will overtake product and price as the key differentiator.
- In a 2015 presentation at the Callidus Client Conference in Las Vegas, the principal
andfounder of ThinkJar, an advisory and research think tank focused on client strategies, revealed that 72% of people who love your service will talk about you to at least six other people.
As mentioned earlier, client service is mainly reactive. It’s transactional, leaving no lasting impression. A great client experience, on the other hand, is proactive and, in the digital space, often interactive. This experience is all about the finer details.
Providing a memorable, enjoyable client experience is well worth the investment. When your clients are satisfied, they become loyal brand advocates, which helps your business thrive.
Your clients as partners
As a consultant, you have a unique relationship with your clients.
In many instances, you’re part of their organization. Sometimes you’re in the room for discussions — financial, strategic or issues management — that most of their employees do not have access to.
At the same time, you are an independent business, and your client is your customer.
It’s one thing to deliver excellent “client experiences,” but the truth is that the consulting world offers a special opportunity to establish true partnerships. These are relationships where your priorities are truly aligned with your client’s organizational priorities.
When you’ve gone the extra mile to establish yourself as a trusted partner, then everything you do is, by definition, a superior client experience — simply because everything you do is in your partner’s best interest.
Building lasting client relationships with Method:CRM
Offering a great client experience begins with having the right tools on hand to help you run your practice effectively. Method
- Two-way, real-time integration with QuickBooks: This ensures that essential client data is always accessible in your CRM and in your accounting software, so you never miss a beat.
- A complete suite of lead and client management tools: From integrated web to lead forms to scheduled follow-ups to 360-degree views of transactions and interactions, Method helps you deliver a seamless end-to-end client experience.
- Client portals: Clients will appreciate the ease and convenience of viewing and paying invoices through self-service portals linked to your CRM.
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