Unforgettable. That’s what we’re talking about here when it comes to the experience your clients have with your brand. Cue Nat King Cole.
Creating an unforgettable client experience can take some sweat equity and consistent work, but it doesn’t have to be complex. A stellar customer journey will keep clients returning and encourage them to share their positive experiences with others through referrals and endorsements (get that WOM!).
But where do you start? Fear not! We have a few ideas to help you get started. So get ready, and let’s dive in!
USE YOUR HEAD, HEART, AND DATA
One of my doctors actually does a good job of creating what feels like a unique patient experience for me. He has a really good bedside manner and uses my chart to note things we talk about from my previous appointment. I’m not just talking about medical things: vacations, work, whatever conversations we have that aren’t health-related. Not all of my doctors do this, which is a shame because it feels like we pick up where we left off a year ago.
You may be in a similar position as my doctor, where you talk with many customers/clients (patients) a day. Or you could lead a team that communicates directly with your end users. Either way, it’s hard to remember every conversation and personal information that sometimes gets dropped like sweet rainbow sprinkles. This is where your CRM comes in to help save the day.
Take Action: Set up custom properties and processes in your CRM to start recording personal information customers/clients relay to you or your team.
(Did I just hear a grunt? No complaining. You can do this. Do you want to create a stellar experience? Better than your competitor? Ok, let’s get to it.)
Data you record in your CRM can be anything from a birthday, work anniversary, upcoming life events, favorite restaurant, etc. Depending on your industry and product or service, these data points can be used to personalize marketing messages or help customer service teams provide a better experience when communicating with your customer/client.
DELIVER A LITTLE EXTRA EACH TIME
You know that feeling when the waiter at a restaurant brings you two cups of that special dipping sauce instead of one? That’s the feeling I’m talking about here.
Delivering a little extra each time you serve your clients is an easy way to stand out from the competition. My favorite story is about the house cleaning company that always bakes a couple of cookies at every house they clean. Along with the cookies, they leave a personalized note about something they cleaned extra or differently that day. The homeowners come home to freshly baked cookies and a nice note.
Find small opportunities to do a little something extra for your customers/clients without a large time or money commitment. A lot of this can be done by putting yourself in their shoes and understanding their experience.
Take Action: What can be your “cookies” touch point? Brainstorm with your team, especially those that interact with your customer/clients, on ideas to show appreciation and improve the experience with your company. Think of small touches that can make an impact. It doesn’t have to require a lot of extra time or budget.
KEEP COMMUNICATION FLOWING
Listen up. Errr…read up. Are you paying attention or just scanning and doing something else?
Start practicing listening. Listening to understand and communicate a bit more than you think you should.
Storytime: I closed an account I had with a financial institution for over ten years. Why? Because they sucked at communicating and listening. It was simple information as understanding my business and personal addresses are different. Whenever I talked with someone, I had to repeat that I do not live at my business address (hello, CRM?!). Secondly, I wanted to expand my services with them, but it took the moving of the earth. I contacted them three times just to get someone to help me. It was a pain. So I left them.
Listening is important, but so is communication:
Following up with what you’ll say you do.
- Proving updates.
- Checking in.
- Asking questions…all that jazz.
- Just you know…be present and care.
Take Action: Can any process be improved when communicating with customers/clients? Take yourself through the current customer journey. What hiccups do you experience?
ANTICIPATE YOUR CLIENT’S NEEDS – AND ALWAYS FOLLOW THROUG
Imagine you hired a landscaping company for your home. They take care of mowing (let’s be real, does anyone really like mowing?) and yard maintenance. You know when they’ve done their job because your yard looks different – freshly mowed grass, fewer weeds, no leaves…etc. Oh yeah, and you’re not sweating profusely. Let’s say they took their job a little bit further; they notice a large tree limb that looks in danger of falling. They take a photo to let you know to keep your family away from the area and send it to you along with a referral to a tree company they checked with to see if they had availability this week to remove. How does that make you feel?
Maybe like they have your back? They do their job and more? They give you one last thing to worry about and figure out? Yeah. That’s a damn good feeling.
Take action: How can you repeat that same feeling with your clients? How can you anticipate a need may be in advance and follow through on a solution? Think creatively – go further than simply meeting customer expectations. What can you provide them with or do for them that will surprise, delight, and inspire them? A little extra effort goes a long way to making a positive impression – something your customers are sure to remember when passing on referrals or leaving positive reviews.
SHOW APPRECIATION WITH PERSONALIZED TOUCHPOINTS
There are several ways to help your customers/clients feel valued. Many companies offer loyalty programs, referral discounts, or do special thank-you events.
Often simple and thoughtful approaches are best. Another storytime. This time, it features my dad. He was responsible for building and maintaining relationships with other local businesses during his career. He didn’t have a huge budget but wanted to stay top of mind with them and, when possible, get some face time. He purchased candy jars with his employer’s logo and his contact information. He or one of his employees regularly went to each business and filled up the candy jar (with good candy, ok. We aren’t talking about off-brand grossness) and used that opportunity to check-in.
While that may or may not be feasible for your company, there are still opportunities to incorporate appreciation into your marketing communications.
Whether it’s remembering details about likes or preferences, sending a personalized thank you card after each visit, or providing an exclusive offer specifically tailored to their needs, small yet meaningful gestures can make customers feel appreciated and keep them coming back for more.
Take action: Inventory what campaigns or initiatives exist for clients/customers today. What are those results? How can things be improved or changed? Talking with your customer success or business development team is a great place to start to get feedback.
LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY TO MAKE THE EXPERIENCE MORE EFFICIENT
We’ve talked about several ideas and opportunities, but don’t you worry; I do not forget the important piece of actually executing and measuring.
This is where technology can be your friend.
You can use tech to execute and report on your initiatives on large or small scale. Good data, CRM, and automation make up a recipe that will save your company hours of manual tasks.
The right applications and tools can help you customize an experience according to the needs and preferences of each individual, create efficiency across teams, and ultimately get more referrals for your business.
While this will take some time upfront, you’ll be setting your team up for success in the future by creating a system that helps execute personalized communication to your customers/clients.
Take action: What’s in your tech stack today that you could utilize to automate and streamline customer/client communication? What technology is missing to help manage data and automate communication?
When it comes to client experience, you want to make sure your clients feel valued and appreciated (like they just drank the warmest and tastiest hot chocolate there is) through every touchpoint of the process. It all starts with forming a personal connection and getting to know their needs, then delivering above and beyond what is asked of you. Communication is key, as well as anticipating their needs, showing appreciation with personalized touchpoints, and leveraging technology for a more efficient experience. The quality of these elements combined set the tone for long-term success—and drive referrals with a strong ROI.