Customizing the client experience
In today’s world, it seems like everything is becoming more personal and customized as a result of data collection, tracking, and electronic devices becoming “smarter.” I’m sure you can think of multiple examples to support this in the technology realm, but I want you to think about how we are creating (or failing to create) a customized experience for our clients in this industry.
Why do we want to create a customized experience? The main reason is that people want to feel special, like you care about them, their individual situation, and the fact that they choose to do business with your company. Clients who feel appreciated become repeat clients, and client retention should be a priority for any business owner.
So many owners and leaders fall into the trap of focusing solely on new client acquisition while taking repeat clients for granted, even though the cost of marketing to, and acquiring, a new client is much higher than retaining a current client.
Like it or not, our clients have come to expect a certain level of personalization and attention from the companies they do business with. You can go to Starbucks and have a beverage completely customized to your personal preference. You can create individual music playlists that exclude one artist and include another. You can personalize shoes and clothing with different patterns and colors. In fact, it’s difficult to find one-size-fits-all business models any more.
We can’t ignore the impact this movement is having on our industry; we need to adapt and stay ahead of the curve. We can do this by focusing on how our clients feel when they do business with our companies as well as by creating a unique experience when they interact with us. Enhancing the client connection should always be at the forefront of everything we do.
Last month, The Lovely Christy and I went to see one of her favorite bands on their farewell tour. They had been recording music and touring together for 20 years, producing ten studio albums. As the lead singer was speaking to the crowd about their journey making music, he kept referencing the fact that he always considered how we, the fans, would feel about and relate to the lyrics for each one of their songs. This got me thinking: Do we have our clients at the top of our minds during every process we create, every system we build, and every new technology we implement?
A friend of mine recently hired an acquaintance to mystery shop his company, requesting honest feedback about every interaction and focusing on how he felt each step of the way. My friend gained a lot of useful information and perspective by doing this, and most of the necessary changes were small tweaks that made a huge difference in the client experience.
If you don’t want to go to this extent, simply put yourself in the clients’ shoes and think about your company from a different angle. When your client sees a marketing message, how do they feel? When they book a call and hang up with the CSR, how do they feel? When the dispatcher calls to schedule them, how do they feel? When the tech arrives, goes through their process, and presents options, how do they feel?
My guess is there are certain times your client feels just like everyone else you serve. They don’t feel important or unique, or like they are really getting to choose the option that has been completely customized to their specific situation. I can tell you right now, if this is how they feel, you will not be able to scale your business to the level you want. You will always be fighting for more calls and more leads because your clients will look to your competitors to help them feel like they matter.
That being said, here are a few tips for customizing the client experience.
Reach clients on social media. One of the best ways to create a personal, customized connection with your clients is to have a consistent social media presence. Social media is where people are catching up with friends and family, so it’s a great place to build trust.
Make sure you are asking every client to follow your company on social media, then run contests and post relevant content that isn’t just ad-based. Post questions that drive interaction, and be sure someone is closely monitoring your page and responding to clients.
One great way to create a custom social media experience is to do a “Client of the Month” program, which makes that client feel special and recognized, and other followers see that you truly appreciate the people you do business with. You can even do a mini interview with your Client of the Month and give them a gift (logo merchandise, a gift certificate for future services, movie tickets, or whatever you feel like). It’s all about creating a positive experience.
Pay close attention to how options are presented and provide consistent training. If you’ve ever seen me speak or train live, you know that I’m all about the process leading up to the options presentation, specifically asking the right questions and connecting with the client.
Even the best connection, however, can be ruined with a bad options presentation. This is part of the call process where customization is crucial! If a client feels they are getting a cookie-cutter options sheet that is presented to everyone else, they will put up a wall. This is why doing presentations on tablets can be risky if not handled properly.
A hand-written options sheet feels much more personal and custom. This is not to say that you shouldn’t embrace technology; just make sure customer connection isn’t being lost along the way because sales will be lost right along with that connection.
Remind techs and salespeople: No matter how busy their day is, that client only has one call, and it’s very important to them. Consistent training, paired with ride-alongs, is the best way to ensure your options presentations are client-focused and effective.
Don’t forget about the small gestures that make a big impact. Creating a customized experience centers on recognition and what matters to that individual client. A thank-you note for a new client mentioning the exact service performed, a card for a five-year client (celebrating their “anniversary” of doing business with you), or anything that lets them know they’re appreciated makes the experience so much more personal.
The possibilities are endless; just do what feels right to you while maintaining brand consistency. These small gestures can be easily systematized, too; put someone in your company specifically in charge of sending cards, gifts, etc.
As business owners and leaders, it’s our responsibility to make sure clients’ expectations are being met (and hopefully exceeded). Creating a customized experience — from the questions you ask clients and the way options are presented, to small communication gestures — aids in client retention and in helping you build the company you desire.