7 Questions to Ask Your Practice for a Great Client Experienceby
Everyone wants to feel they are an important client. yet the reality is that most feel that they are treated indifferently and must pay for the privilege of excellent customer care. So what’s the payoff from delivering a great client experience?
Simply put, happy clients tell other people, which is extremely important in the world of crowdsourced reviews and social media. Referrals should follow, growing client base and bottom line.
Consistency is the challenge to delivering a great client experience, especially if your firm has multiple locations. Will a client in one office receive the same treatment as a different client in another location?
To ensure consistent and excellent customer care, consider these seven questions:
1. Does the client feel they have taken a step up doing business with your firm? Individuals and business owners have plenty of choices when selecting an accounting firm. It’s human nature to want to feel they are working with the best. Is your reception area decorated with awards the firm has won? Framed published articles? Photos taken at community events with community leaders? Clients place a high value on confidentiality, yet everyone wants to work with a winner.
2. Do clients feel valued? When you fly American Airlines, the last words you hear before exiting the plan are: “Thank you for flying on American. We realize you have a choice in air travel.” Are clients warmly greeted upon arrival and made to feel comfortable? Do your staff members project a professional appearance and pride in their work?
Holding incoming calls during client meetings shows that you place high value on your client’s time, as they do on your undivided attention. Make sure that you give the client ample time to talk and explain why their particular situation is unique. You may feel you know the solution after the first few seconds of conversation, but they want to feel you have thought long and hard before offering advice.
3. Do clients feel helped or sold? This can be an issue when a practice offers additional consulting services on a fee-per-hour basis. If you explain the services you provide by reciting a list, clients may feel you are advancing your agenda, not theirs. Let them explain their situation first to put you in a position to identify a series of problems they face and offer solutions. Clients often feel their situation is unique and assign traditional roles to different professionals. If you lead with your core competencies and expand on how you can help with other problems, you introduce a one-stop shopping solution similar to the world of private banking.
4. Do clients know what they are paying beforehand? The public often sees purchasing professional services as an adversarial relationship. Regardless if it’s an auto mechanic or trial attorney, the client often doesn’t know the total bill until after the fact. Clients understand advice has value and you get what you pay for, but they also want to know when the meter is running. Is your initial consultation free? If not, consider offering a credit for the same amount when they engage your firm.
Make sure your clients understand the cost of basic services upfront in time, money, and delivery schedule, as well as their responsibilities and the documentation they must provide.
5. Do clients know a team is assigned to their relationship? When private banks take on a client, one of their first actions is to bring several staff members into the meeting. “Because your business is very important to our firm, we assign four people to your relationship.” Clients feel they are getting value for money.
Typically, there is a client relationship manager who acts as a primary liaison with specialists in areas where the client has identified a need, such as retirement planning. There’s also support staff available to answer routine questions. Clients see continuity – when they call, they will be speaking with a familiar voice who understands their situation. If a team member retires or leaves, the majority of the team maintains the relationship.
6. How are documents shared within the team? Clients understand they need to provide a considerable amount of information to enable you to do your job, but they only want to do it once. When the client has a need that involves multiple team members, such as tax preparation or retirement planning, do they need to provide basic information again or has it been securely stored and made available for internal collaboration? Providing a secure file-sharing service with a dedicated client portal allows document sharing to be seamless and secure.
7. Are client contacts stored and accessible by the entire team? A client discusses a problem with one team member but later they call and reach support staff. Is your support staff able to view a synopsis of the earlier conversation and provide updates? Can they make additional notes to a central record, updating the first team member when they view the client’s profile? Client contact management software makes sharing this information easy.
Every client wants to feel they are important. Putting procedure and technology solutions in place goes a long way toward delivering a uniform client experience.
Citrix proudly sponsors this article as part of their ongoing commitment to the improvement of client experience with professional firms. Citrix believes that a slick and well executed client experience can have a transformative effect on client retention and long-term revenue.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He provides high-net-worth client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, Captivating the Wealthy Investor, can be found on Amazon.com.