There’s a lot of buzz these days about an exceptional client service experience, but what does that really mean? And how does a company back up its claims?
Here are the top 10 best practices to use for an exceptional client experience.
1. Build a culture of empowerment
Employees who have the power to voice ideas, make decisions, work across teams, and solve problems are what a culture of empowerment is all about. Each employee is seen and treated as a unique person, capable of creative problem-solving, and rewarded for having a take-charge attitude.
It's important that you empower your employees to address challenges on their own. Doing so ensures that they know their ideas will be heard, considered, and supported by leaders in your organization. And they know they can step beyond their immediate role and responsibilities to help others. Empowered employees don’t fear challenges — they embrace them.
2. Foster a positive relationship with change
“Change is a constant” may be one of the most ubiquitous maxims out there, but there’s still enormous truth in it. In business, change happens with and without warning, and it can either be responded to with grace and fortitude, or turmoil and fear.
One of the best ways to deal with change is by giving employees and clients alike the appropriate tools to navigate it successfully. That means regular communication through quarterly town halls and regular manager meetings to keep everyone informed, as well as ongoing training. For clients, it’s recognizing the role change plays in their own organizations, so you can develop the best tools and provide the best expert guidance for whatever it is they may need.
3. Provide a continuous feedback loop for employees
When employees receive regular feedback about their performance and a plan of action for improvement, there’s a lot less confusion about what’s expected of them. Better yet, they can see a direct line between their actions and decisions at work, and how these benefit — or don’t benefit — clients.
You should prioritize continuous feedback about employees' strengths and areas for improvement through regular one-on-one meetings. Build on strengths and successes so you can expand on your business goals. With continuous feedback, communication is much clearer between managers and employees, and employees know what actions they can take to perform at a higher level — all of which translate to a more positive experience for your clients.
4. Align the hiring and training process with client service objectives
Lots of businesses are looking for ways to improve client service and the client experience, but it’s about more than adopting a bunch of new tools. It really begins from the ground up by hiring employees who have the right skills or the right potential and developing new skills that help the organization achieve its objectives faster.
Walk the walk by recruiting, hiring, and training employees who understand just how seriously your organization takes client service and show a commitment to do the same. That means they’re eager to absorb your values around client service and lead with them — whether it’s during a client interaction or some other company initiative that benefits your clients.
5. Open up a feedback loop with clients
Clients use products and services and engage with client success and support teams every day — which means they know better than anyone what’s working and what isn’t. That’s why client feedback is so important, in that it helps organizations better understand and solve their clients’ pain points and be able to anticipate and meet their evolving needs.
Utilize as many methods of receiving client feedback as you can. Something that many organizations find particularly useful is to send regular surveys to your clients to gauge their satisfaction levels, get recommendations and requests, learn about what you can improve, and communicate with them appropriately no matter where they are in the buyer’s journey.
6. Measure progress and success through client service KPIs
Key performance indicators — or KPIs — tell an organization how well they’re performing in any one area. Client service KPIs are especially helpful because they point the way to specific changes that can be made to increase client retention and improve client service efficiency, which benefit the entire business operation.
Make it a point to routinely measure client service KPIs like Net Promoter Scores (NPS), client service response times, client retention rates, and more. These can help you understand where you're meeting and even exceeding client expectations, and where you're under-delivering so you can make necessary improvements.
7. Be transparent
The idea of transparency can be squeamish to business leaders who prefer to keep the inner workings of the organization behind closed doors. But in actuality, it can be very rewarding to be transparent with clients, especially about the organization’s workforce, values, and methodologies. It helps them know what to expect from the organization and keeps the organization accountable.
One of the ways you can be transparent is by letting clients know what you require from your employees. Be upfront about what goes into specific job descriptions, how you choose the right job candidates to align with the values of your client service model, and how new employees are trained and encouraged in developing a client-centric mindset.
8. Involve the whole company in client service
It’s not just front-line, client-facing employees who are responsible for a great client experience — it’s the whole company. Even departments that don’t interact directly with clients can have an impact on the client experience by the quality and efficiency with which they perform their work, which has a ripple effect throughout the organization.
9. Deliver memorable, smile-worthy experiences
The experience clients have — from initial sale to post-sale support and every step in between — makes a lasting impression. When a client has a positive experience, they want to keep doing business with the organization. When they don’t, they leave. It’s that simple.
Make your commitment to delivering exceptional experiences the heart of everything you do. If you're not quite reaching your goal, take the actions you need to get there. When you do achieve your goal, recognize the hard work that went into it — and know that you couldn’t do it without the efforts of your awesome employees and the feedback of your valued clients.
10. Recognize the journey to client success.
Client service will continue to evolve — just like everything else in business. And though it's a learning process, it's okay not to know everything. But as long as you have clients, your goal should be to serve them in the best ways you can.
Be devoted to the journey, which means never stop researching and observing organizations and leaders who you believe are doing things right, and never stop short of exceeding your clients' expectations.
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