Written by Anna Lake
In professional services, your people are crucial to delivering your client experience (CX) promises. It’s likely you’ll have told your clients what to expect when working with your firm (and if you haven’t, you should!), so it’s crucial your team understand what’s expected of them.
If you look at the employee journey as covering everything from recruitment through to business as usual, you need to keep the concept of CX in mind for your employees too.
Communicating your customer experience plans
Whether you’re a well-established business with a number of existing staff or a small practice taking on its first employee, hiring people is a leap of faith. You are trusting them to represent your brand and enhance a reputation you’ve probably spent a long-time building.
If you require a particular level of technical competence, that can be relatively easily evidenced. What is less easy to gauge in the hiring process is someone’s commitment to excellent CX.
In order to attract and recruit people with the right qualities and attitude, you need to make what you’re looking for clear in the job description and person specification. Set out the level of client interaction they will have and communicate your desired CX from the start.
Committing to CX from day one
At the interview stage, ask candidates to give examples of when they demonstrated excellent CX in previous roles, get them to talk about brands they admire for their commitment to CX, or to share their own personal experience of (good or bad) CX and how it made them feel.
When you’re inducting people, make sure they understand your CX vision and their role in realising it. If the size of your firm warrants it, offer training on client experience for new starters.
Getting everyone on board with your CX
If client experience is a new focus for your business, involve your existing team in the discussion. They will be much more motivated to deliver something they’ve had a part in shaping. Explore what might contribute towards your desired CX and ask your team to think about what barriers might be in place when delivering on it.
When I was working in-house at a large accountancy practice, I was lucky enough to go on a secondment to the new member firm in India. We conducted an exercise where I asked staff to share their thoughts on behaviours, systems and processes that were hindering the firm’s desired delivery of their client experience. The staff hugely appreciated the opportunity to have their say, particularly in what was an autocratic leadership culture. The point is that you’ll be much more successful in delivering CX if your team is on board from the start.
Communicating and measuring CX
When your new CX strategy and the values behind it are launched, make sure everyone understands the part they play in delivering them. Reward and recognise people who demonstrate and ‘live’ these values.
Give your team client experience objectives to meet and encourage clients to give feedback on how they’re doing against your CX values, not just at an annual review, but regularly throughout the year. Work with your HR team so that, if someone falls short of expectations, you have mechanisms in place to deal with any issues in an appropriate manner.
When you undertake a client listening exercise and collect glowing feedback, tell the people involved and thank them. If they know their efforts are appreciated, they’re more likely to keep up the good work.
Once you reach a certain size, you can sometimes lose sight of what your clients need. Remember the people who are your front-line teams. Listen to them and allow them the flexibility (within reason!) to deliver for clients in the way they feel will be the most effective. Bringing an excellent client experience to life is a team effort and the best way to achieve this is by empowering and inspiring your people.
Anna Lake is a freelance consultant who specialises is client experience and client listening programmes for professional services firms.