Then I remembered that I have a button in my car marked SOS. The car company invited me to push it anytime I have a problem. I pushed it. A warm, concerned gentleman answered and asked immediately if I was all right. I explained my problem. He told me that he knew where I was and that someone would be with me within the hour. He confirmed my phone number and said the company would check back to be sure that someone had arrived to change the tire.
Thirty minutes later, a service man arrived, changed the tire and made sure everything was okay with the car. He didn't charge me. If fact, he wouldn't even take a tip. As he was leaving, there was a call to confirm that the tire had been changed and that I was happy. Happy? I almost wished for another flat just to see if I had the same experience.
MANAGING CLIENT EXPERIENCE
Later, I began to think about relationship management and managing client expectations. When I pushed that button in my car, I fully expected that company to solve my problem. I wasn't disappointed. But this wasn't about managing my expectations or my relationship with the car company - it was about managing the client experience.
Most of you probably have client relationship management software, which lets you track your client data and information. It may trigger you to make calls or be more proactive in your service to clients. It may help you create a client diary to chronicle your services. Client experience management is different; it's about purposefully managing each touch point a client has with you, your staff and your firm. This holistic concept is beyond customer service or care.
Lior Arussy, founder and owner of Strativity Group, is widely credited with coining the term "client experience management" a good 15 years ago. Arussy, who calls himself a corporate marriage counselor, maintains that in most companies there is a serious gap between intention and execution. That's because intention is not a preplanned activity, just a frame of mind.
Arussy suggests that if you are worried about client retention, satisfaction and acquisition, you are exhibiting classical commoditization behavior. On that basis, everybody does essentially the same work and charges essentially the same price. So ask yourself, "Are we really so great that people would prefer us over someone else?" If you don't have a solid answer to that, read on.
Do you ever have prospects challenge your fees? Did anybody ever ask for a discount? If so, your prospect did not see the connection between your services and your charges. That's a classic value disconnect. In such a situation, you have two choices: You can give a client something of value like a discount (or even free service), or you can demonstrate your value so they make the connection. This is where client experience management is so powerful. Arussy's process divides clients into three satisfaction groups:
* Detractors: People dissatisfied with their experience.
* Naturals: Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, but certainly not "wowed" by their experience.
* Promoters: People who are absolutely loyal.
The basic principle of client experience management is to move detractors to naturals and naturals to promoters. In 2009, Strativity conducted a survey of consumers attempting to determine the value of customer experience, particularly in volatile economic times. The results were startling. Strativity asked 2,000 promoters three questions:
1. If the client experience remains the same, I expect to do business with this business for another ______ years.
2. If the client experience exceeds my expectations, I will spend more (by ______ %) with the company.
3. Because of my experience with the business, I will pay ______ more than the competition charges.
According to Strativity, promoters would stay at least 10 years receiving the same client experience. But they would be willing to spend an additional 25%, or pay 5% to 10% more than the competition to receive a client experience that exceeded their expectations.