Navigating uncharted territory is tough for any business. It could be brought on by unexpected revenue decline, the resignation of a top team member, a natural disaster, a pandemic, or myriad other setbacks. While each of these scenarios affects businesses differently, one thing connects them: the importance of smooth client experiences.
According to data from Forrester’s Customer Experience Index collected through the Great Recession, companies identified as leaders in client experience saw three times the returns for shareholders as companies identified as laggards. In other words, the brands that focused on client experience—even during a period of recession—saw financial benefits.
A survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers details more recent trends in the realm of client experience. The results showed that consumers were more likely to make additional purchases or try out new services from companies that offered exceptional experiences. On the other side of the spectrum, a majority of respondents said they would stop doing business with a company after multiple bad experiences—and nearly one-third said they’d walk away after a single negative interaction.
At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “Shouldn’t my main priority in a crisis be making sure my business makes it through?” Yes, it is critical to make and execute plans that will protect your organization and employees. But the experience you offer will be a huge determining factor in whether those plans work out. After all, a poor client experience means losing the revenue that you need.
As companies around the world navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, clients are looking for reliable experiences. Make your client experience a priority with these three steps:
1. Adjust your strategy based on your clients’ current needs.
The status quo isn’t going to cut it in extraordinary circumstances. Your first step toward a smoother experience is to make sure you’re delivering what clients actually need. Reach out to real clients on social media and use any touchpoints they have with your team to understand what they’re going through.
This type of strategy requires a shift in one’s mindset and a concerted effort to meet individual needs in a personal way.
“One way to connect with your customers is to show that you genuinely care about your partnership by offering leniency with invoices. Give customers who are struggling financially the option to pay in installments or extend deadlines, for example,” says Vince Dawkins, CEO and president of Enertia Software, a developer of enterprise solutions for the upstream oil and gas industry. “By showing that you understand what your customers are going through, you will make them that much more likely to stick around now and in the future, despite economic uncertainty.”
2. Get your whole team involved.
To execute your new client experience strategy successfully, you’ll need the buy-in and support of every individual on your team. Keep each department in the loop while you’re making changes that affect day-to-day operations. Even better, ask for their input and feedback on those changes. As you begin to implement new processes with clients, be sure to share what you learn along the way.
Sharing client insights will help all your team members optimize their workflow to produce better results, according to HubSpot. Account managers and salespeople will be better able to spot opportunities to sell add-ons or increase packages based on client feedback data. The faster developers can learn about snags in your software, desktop site, or mobile site experience, the faster they can fix them. And when your customer service reps know what common questions clients have, they’ll be better equipped to answer them.
3. Bring authenticity into every interaction.
It may seem like common sense to say it’s important to inject authenticity into your client-facing communications, but the fast pace of the business world makes it far too easy to get caught up in a race to the top by whatever means necessary. According to a survey by research firm Opinium, a majority of Americans believe organizations are simply “jumping on the bandwagon” when it comes to their responses to COVID-19. It’s clear that people crave authenticity.
Instead of using canned messaging or glossing over the pandemic in your communications, focus on doing good and offering support. Ask how your clients are doing, and then really listen to their answers. If you can take it a step further and provide essential services at a discount, give clients a break on late fees, or even donate to a cause that will resonate with your clients, you’ll help build stronger client relationships moving forward.
Weathering a storm is hard work for businesses and clients alike. With these strategies in your tool kit, you’ll be able to serve clients more confidently and effectively, providing them with the smooth experiences they deserve. By shifting strategies based on client needs, getting your team on board, and communicating with authenticity, you’ll have a better chance of making it to shore with your clients right beside you.
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