“Did the client have a good experience?”
Even in today’s client centric business landscape, this question is hardly ever asked. That’s because what the client may or may not have experienced isn’t really the focal point for a lot of organizations. Instead, resources get poured into frontline support tools and teams so that support requests can be processed faster and easier and get checked off the list. The problem is, that support isn’t the same thing as service, and it’s definitely not the same thing as the client experience.
When we think and talk about the client experience vs. client service, what we really mean are the impressions clients get when they interact with us, how they feel during the interaction, and whether we provided the standards of service that we hold ourselves to.
As we strive to provide exceptional client service, we’re doing so by keeping the concept of the “client experience” front and center in our minds. Here’s a deeper dive into what an exceptional client service experience is and how it’s different from support.
Exceptional client service experience defined
There’s a lot that goes into an exceptional client service experience, as we’ve discovered over the years. Instead of trying to summarize it in a sentence, we can demonstrate it with some principles. Organizations that have mastered an exceptional client service experience also have:
- Empowered employees. Employees who feel confident and supported in their work know they have the power to make decisions on their own and solve client problems in creative ways.
- Positive response to change. Change happens in business, whether we like it or not. When everyone in the organization has the tools they need to adapt to change, disruptions are a lot less daunting and operations can continue to run smoothly.
- Continuous feedback. When employees can receive feedback and clients can give feedback, the whole organization is impacted. Employees know exactly what to do to perform at a higher level, and clients know they’ll be heard and their pain points addressed.
- Alignment in hiring and training. Hiring employees who share the same values around the client service experience and training them with client service objectives in mind reinforces the organization’s goals and helps them deliver on its service promises.
- Measurements for success. Using key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure service results against expectations helps the organization know what changes to make to improve the overall client experience and also what to keep doing that’s working well.
- Transparency. Sharing with clients what the organization’s hiring and training practices and client service values help it stay accountable to its own client service experience standards as well as to client needs.
- Commitment from the whole company. When the whole organization — regardless of role — is trained in and demonstrates a commitment to exceptional client service experience, the organization is better positioned to meet its client service objectives.
- Recognition that it’s a journey. No one organization has all the answers. By staying on the journey and learning and integrating everything the organization can about an exceptional client service experience, the experience itself keeps getting better and better.
With these principles and best practices in place, organizations are capable of delivering an exceptional client service, and ensuring the client experience — from beginning to end and all points in between — is a great one.
Client service vs. support
A conversation about client service isn’t complete without also identifying the difference between client service and support.
Client service is the whole package — everything the organization does to serve clients, meet their needs and make sure they get the most value out of the product or solution. It’s more than any single interaction or transaction; it plays a proactive role in everything the client experiences on their buying journey — from initial purchase to set up and implementation to resolving non-technical issues, answering questions, giving advice, and recommending upgrades.
Conversely, client support is about those single interactions. It usually involves the client having a technical issue and an agent getting on the phone or a chat session to help quickly troubleshoot and resolve it. Client support is essentially a reactive, in-the-moment role.
A combination of the two — service and support — creates the client experience. If both are performed well, the client has a positive experience with the organization. If both are performed poorly, the client experience suffers, and their relationship with the organization can suffer too.
In the SaaS industry that we operate in, the concept of the client experience is often downplayed or missing. A SaaS company might put a ton of resources into making a great software product, for example, but fall down on client service and support, making them less able to connect with clients in meaningful ways. But when service and support are prioritized as much as the product — along with a deep commitment to being exceptional — then the client experience can really shine.
Our commitment to an exceptional client service experience
One of the ways we strive for an exceptional client service experience is by making our clients happy throughout their buying journey with us, with a specific focus on delivering “smile-worthy” experiences every time.
We’re able to make good on these promises by building the kind of caring culture in our organization that we know makes us better, committing to continual improvement, and making sure our clients are at the center of everything we do. We value collaboration with our clients and truly see them as partners.
And just like in the principles of an exceptional client service experience stated above, we know we’re still on this journey. And we’ll keep learning and growing to ensure we’re achieving our client service goals.
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