The truth is, many (if not all) of what professional services firms promote as their differentiators have now become the norm. Today’s more demanding customers expect you to deliver quality projects on time and on budget – not hope.
That’s why you should focus on improving your customer experience as a way of truly distinguishing yourself from the competition.
Let’s look at some ways you can do that…
- Create a 360° view of your customers
- (Re)design engaging customer journey maps
- Train your staff on good customer service
- Form a continuous customer feedback loop
1. Create a 360° view of your customers
An excellent customer experience starts and ends with the voice of the customer. And the customer’s voice is heard most clearly through qualitative research, so consider holding one-on-one interviews with your customers.
Yes, this might cost you both time and money in the short term, but it’ll provide valuable insights that will go far beyond what you’d get from a survey, for example. With that being said though, carrying out quantitative research in the form of online surveys or other means allows you to extend the reach of your research, as well as determine a baseline for measuring your success.
By using both quantitative and qualitative research together, you can gain a 360-degree view of your customers, helping you to:
- Look past assumptions and learn directly from your customers about what matters most to them
- Uncover unexpressed emotions and behaviours that may be present in the relationship
In-depth customer research will provide you with game-changing insights that are fundamental for creating a better customer experience.
2. (Re)design engaging customer journey maps
Now that you’ve got a foundation of customer research, you can start to (re)design a much more engaging customer experience. And experience design starts with mapping out the customer journey.
Customer journey mapping is the process of creating a summarised visualisation of the end-to-end customer experience – identifying key touchpoints, interactions and activities overlapped with the customer’s questions, needs and motivations along the journey.
These visual tools help you to view things through your customer’s lens and then identify/prioritise areas of the experience for improvement and greater investment.
Part of creating an exceptional customer experience involves injecting intentional “moments of wow” into the journey. These interactions are completely unexpected by your customers and can be as simple as a handwritten thank you note or more elaborate like a value add to a project. The goal here is to continuously seek to exceed your customer’s expectations.
Professional services businesses can learn a lot from the CX (customer experience) market leaders of the retail world such as Amazon, Starbucks and Disney when it comes to the importance of brand consistency. Every aspect of your brand – from your visual identity (e.g. logo, business cards, etc) to your messaging and office environment – should be consistent and on-brand.
3. Train your staff on good customer service
When a prospect signs up for a project, they want to be blown away by the experience and final result. This is a great opportunity for you to significantly improve customer satisfaction, but if you don’t manage the project wisely, you risk the opposite.
That’s why all your employees need to be “singing from the same hymn sheet” to ensure consistency of both brand and experience delivery. Communicating the vision of your initiative is where it starts. A top-down, clear explanation of the what, when, how and why will help your employees understand their role in the process.
Once the vision has been communicated, holding customer experience workshops for all levels of your business will equip your people with the knowledge and skills needed to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
But remember – just because you’ve got your employees to buy into your vision doesn’t mean they’ll stay “bought-in” for the whole project. For example, they could change their minds, be seconded to another project or even leave the company.
So, make sure you consistently establish and reinforce your customer experience initiative, as well as present opportunities for your teams to share their ideas, success stories and lessons learned.
4. Form a continuous customer feedback loop
Customer research isn’t a one-and-done exercise. By having a continuous loop of customer feedback, you’ll be able to measure the experience you’re delivering and identify areas for improvement.
Some ways you can gather customer feedback include:
- Tracking your Net Promoter Score, which will provide you with a solid measuring stick for the overall success of your customer experience efforts
- Creating a survey tool to capture feedback from your clients at key project milestones
- Capturing real-time feedback through tools such as a website widget or web app
- Building an internal system to record and communicate informal comments from your customers, which can help add context to things that may appear in surveys. Project managers, consultants and other customer-facing employees often hear “off-the-cuff” comments that might reveal interesting insights
- Prioritising leadership visibility with your customers. This will allow your customers to share feedback with an executive which they may not feel comfortable sharing with a project manager. Ongoing, informal qualitative research like this will continue to deliver not only customer-specific insight – but also insights that can be incorporated across your entire customer experience initiative
Choose the right tech to support your CX efforts
In the digital age, no customer experience program can thrive without the use of technology. With so many tools available, the important thing to remember when choosing what tech to implement is it should make your processes more seamless and transparent to your customers. In other words, don’t make the experience about technology, but instead let the experience be enhanced by it.
Technology like professional services automation (PSA) software can help your customers in the following ways:
- Communication – PSA tools help you to keep full records of all conversations which ensures everyone involved can keep track of project developments
- Approvals and feedback – PSA software can gather feedback, distribute it to relevant parties and turn feedback into actionable tasks
- Collaboration – PSA software makes it easier for teams and customers to share documents in real-time, provide quick feedback and make suggestions for edits
PSA software can also help your internal processes and project delivery by better managing your time tracking, contracts, project management, invoicing, billing and more. In our guide, we walk you through how to choose the right PSA tool for your business.
Download it below.