Client Experience has been around as a buzz word in the marketing arena for a few years now, but what exactly does it mean, what is its importance, and how can accountancy firms embrace it? Recent research has shown that client experience will replace price as the key differentiating factor by 2020, so it’s definitely a concept that’s here to stay.
What is Client Experience (CX)?
The term client experience (CX) originates in commerce and is defined as the product of any interaction between an individual and an organisation over the duration of their relationship. So for an accountancy practice, it would be the result of all touch points on their customer journey – be that through a visit to the website, interaction on social media, a phone call or meeting a representative of the firm at a networking event.
Why is it important?
Client Experience will continue to gain importance as the key differentiating factor, setting accountancy firms apart from their competitors. Despite the rise of Artificial Intelligence, online marketing and automation, people want to deal with real people when it comes to financial matters, arguably now more so than ever. This is especially true for an industry that is based on trust and personal relationships. Customers are looking for trusted advisers that can provide tailored and proactive business advice.
Many accountancy firms have embraced new technologies and digital advancements which in the majority aim to make internal processes run more smoothly and efficient. But really, how many accountancy firms can say hand on heart that the customer is at the centre of their processes and services, rather than the legacy of how things have developed over years or because “that’s how we’ve always done things”?
How can accountancy firms embrace CX?
Quite simply, by putting themselves into the shoes of the customer by experiencing the end-to-end customer journey – from researching accountants to first impressions on the phone or website or even when walking through the door. It’s basically all about making today’s customers feel valued, informed and satisfied at each stage of their journey.
Hopefully the practice will have some mechanisms in place to gather feedback from clients to understand what has impressed and frustrated them at each stage of the customer journey. If not, it might be as simple as putting in place an automated or personal follow up process. If resources allow, mystery shopping companies can provide an unbiased snapshot of the customer journey and mechanisms to capture feedback, as well as ideas for improvement.
Here’s what companies that have nailed CX all have in common, and how accountancy firms can try to replicate this:
1. Speed of response
Todays’ customers are expecting a quick response, so responding to telephone enquiries or emails within a set amount of time is crucial – even if it’s a ‘placeholder’ email or call to say that you have received the enquiry and when you are likely to be able to respond in more detail
2. Clarity of information
Not all customers are familiar with accountancy jargon or complex tax legislation so by presenting the information in plain English and in an easy to digest format will ensure they will feel understood and are fully aware of their responsibilities.
3. Level of personalisation and personal customer service
Simple ideas for offering a personalised service include: Keeping a log of people’s birthdays, life events such as marriage or a promotion and communicating with people accordingly. A quick email or handwritten card is enough and will make the customer feel valued. Even just using someone’s name in conversation can make a difference!
4. Ability to develop the business and cross-sell
Having a proactive mindset by looking out for new technologies or collaborations that add value or simplify things for the client will ensure that the business progresses with the times and offers services that are relevant to their target audience.
5. When it goes wrong, it’s easy
Things sometimes go wrong but it’s how proactively firms provide a solution to a problem that will stick in people’s minds.
By offering customers the chance to provide feedback at different stages of their journey any potential problems can be nipped in the bud as and when they arrive, rather than when it’s too late.
You might also be interested in reading our blog Have you mystery shopped your firm in the last 3 months?
If you require any unbiased advice on your firm’s marketing or business development please get in touch on 01903 530787 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Another post you may be interested in is from INSTRKTIV titled the Customer Journey