Six steps to guarantee a ROI (return on investment) in customer experience

How do you know when to invest in Customer Experience?  What does such an investment look like? Is it training or measuring or just paying attention to the customer? And then, the million-dollar question, how do you know your investment in customer experience has actually worked?  AND, is there a time you can stop investing in this valuable resource?

At insight6, our team of 24 Customer Experience Experts (CXDs) work across the UK and Ireland, with more than 1,000 businesses.

We asked them how they would answer these questions.

Our CXD team have very impressive senior management experience in customer centric companies from Tesler to Tescos, from Costa to Coke, Apple to Heineken.

What we discovered from our team of CXD’s can be summed up in six key findings:

1. One size does not fit all

The first step with any new client is to gain an understanding of the needs of the organisation. Some clients know exactly what is needed, for example, a team training programme or a competitor analysis. Other clients may need to gain an objective view on whether there is a customer experience issue to address. When a client does not know if there is an issue, the only way to find out is by asking either customers, the team or both! Whatever the client issue, whether it be high team turnover or low customer retention, the results of asking the right questions will always illuminate a path of action that will solve the problem. Simply having an open discussion with an expert will open up the world of CX and allow exploration into what can be achieved.

We had such a discussion with the CEO of a private school, which had a problem with their open days lacking purpose. Measuring the customer experience through insight6 CX reviews across all their open days led to identifying untapped specific sales opportunities that were immediately actioned by the whole team. This, in turn, led to an increase in conversion on new students of 49%! The return on investment on a school with £25K fees per annum is significant.

2. The time is right when you are ready for change

The only time to invest in Customer Experience is when you are prepared to take action. How many times have you decided to undertake research and used the report to fill a bookshelf, or attended a training course and, within a week, forgotten what you learnt? We all do it.

The truth is that you will know when it is time to invest in customer experience; it’s when you know you are ready and are open minded enough to embrace what comes next, and then make it happen.

Two live examples from our team are:

In an accountancy practice, staff focus groups and a team engagement survey were conducted across the business: the results were poor, as expected. The manner in which the results were presented, and the clarity of the next steps were too compelling for the managing partner to ignore. Within 6 months of the results and the actions of the management team, staff morale and retention had improved, and like for like sales had increased on the previous 6 months.

Conversely, a business had commissioned Customer Experience reviews (mystery shopping) to measure the customer’s perceptions of the service. KPI data was generated from the customer experience studies on sales, service and presentation over a series of months. The detailed gap analysis over time, clearly highlighted the need for sales skills training but the business was not ready to take the plunge. When measurement is used without the accompanying action, it is not possible to create the impact on the business and maximise your return.

Improving CX is about changing behaviour and that needs to be central to all activity.

3. Investment in Customer Experience is everything to do with the Customer

Take a look at your business through the lens of your customer, and you will see everything that needs to change! Keep the customer as a metaphoric ‘horse whisperer’ by having a continuous 'feed in' of how they see your business, from focus groups to CX reviews (mystery shopping), on-line immediate feedback, to Video mystery visits. The only thing that is vital, is that you listen to the ‘whispers’, and elevate their status in your business to the most important voice in your management team. One of our clients has an empty chair at their board table that represents the customer, so the customer’s perception can never be forgotten. This makes the point to the whole management team that the person in that chair is the one who needs to be most impressed with the decisions made in the meeting.

Our CXD’s recount some great examples where…

An optician's practice committed to an ongoing programme of CX reviews (mystery shopping), Feedback Direct (real time customer feedback) and annual Focus Groups, which led to a change in strategic direction, continued investment and acquisition. All this was possible through deeply understanding the relationship with customers.

In a farm shop, the investment in understanding their customers better resulted in an observable increase in confidence in the management of the teams; they delivered great service and developed the art of selling through being ‘in service to customers’, rather than ‘hard selling'. The ROI was staggering.

4. Investing in the Catalysts to Customer Experience

Customer experience is not something that can be ‘given’ by a business. Customer experience is a subjective feeling that the customer has, which results from a series of events and encounters which leave an impression. This is called the Customer Journey. In order to create the blank canvas so that a customer journey can be identified, everyone in the organisation needs to see themselves as a catalyst to a great customer experience - from the leaders to the front-line team.

In a business that we worked with, the Customer Experience reviews (mystery shopping) and team engagement surveys revealed the need for sales training, coaching and mentoring for the whole team from the Senior leadership team to the salespeople. The team recognised the need to treat their customers better than their competitors, which resulted in an increase in sales and referrals.

A hospitality business was able to increase average spend by a fifth, and increase Customer Experience scores by 25%, as a result of fully engaging the team and management in the training and coaching programme.

5. ROI on Customer Experience is exponential

How do you measure the impact of making your team happier? What do you ask your customers to find out if they had a good experience? And how do you know if all your investment in your customers and team really did increase your sales?

Part of any customer experience project is to put ROI at the core of the work. It is vital that you can quantify the impact of the work and the money invested. The only place to start is by asking yourself questions about where your business is now and where you would like it to be and what would ‘great’ look like. Over 25 years, insight6 has developed robust tools to measure and quantify the impact of investing in customer experience for businesses, so you can know what works and what does not.

Examples:
A retail and hospitality business wanted to understand what the increase would be in sales following a programme of CX reviews that identified an issue with the cafe team not upselling.

As a result, a sales training programme was delivered to the team. A carefully structured benchmark was created with the client on current customer spend levels and footfall before starting the project, so that any increases would be recognised and rewarded. At the end of a 12-month period, the spend levels increased as a result of 75% more customers responding to the service of the team and they purchased more product.

In a solicitor’s practice, a client journey mapping exercise led to the whole team becoming engaged in the customer experience. As a result, client retention and team productivity was increased. Just one client - who decided to stay with the practice after all - paid for the investment in the customer experience project 52 times over.

6. The magic sauce for customer experience is objectivity and expertise

The journey to being ‘great’ is continuous, especially as we live in a world where expectations from customers increase every single moment. Keeping up with customer expectations, knowing how to respond and being aware of what the priority is in your business, is a difficult task when you are ‘looking out’ from your business, as opposed to having the benefit of looking from outside in. Finding a trusted, objective and expert human adviser/partner is the magic sauce for knowing when and how to act with customer experience. Have you ever tried being your own therapist or coach? It does work, but only to the limit of what you have already experienced in your life. Gaining the insight of an expert will always allow you to step outside the boundaries of your own thinking, and experience a fresh, new way of looking at your business, inspiring you to go boldly into your future.

“Having the experience to mentor the managers to follow up the training is essential to create the transformation.” Harriet, Scotland

“We provided powerful insight with a large sample size which clearly showed the changes needed, those changes in this example created an extra £200k of income.” Graham Hill

So, is investing in Customer Experience a choice? The answer is not binary - the business needs to commit to changing and you need to find the expertise to rocket fuel your customer experience.

A Reliable Approach to Turning Complaints into Custom

Dealing with complaints

Dealing with complaintsCustomer complaints are an unavoidable challenge that any business inevitably face sooner or later. Your team will be working hard to maintain a high standard of business in order to prevent customer discontent, however the reality of human error renders total satisfaction amongst every customer impossible. Once in a while, a slip-up will occur, and a customer will make sure that any inconvenience the mistake caused them is known to your organisation. The complaint could be in the form of a disgruntled phone call, a strongly worded email, a targeted social media post or even an in-person confrontation.

The folly of most companies however, is in immediately disregarding these complaining customers as lost business. By sending complaining customers away with a partial refund or some other form of compensation and thinking no further about them, many companies are missing out on a chance to improve precarious business relationships, and in doing so, strengthening their reputation.

In fact, statistics show that those who complain when dissatisfied with customer treatment are more likely to want to continue a business relationship with your organisation than those who do not complain.

“A customer complaint highlights a problem, whether that’s a problem with your product, employees or internal processes, and by hearing these problems directly from your customers, you can investigate and improve to prevent further complaints in the future.”[i] (SuperOffice).

 Complaints represent a customer’s disappointment in the standard of your company, which has fallen below their expectation. It is the job of your customer service staff to reinstate this expectation at its prior high level. To do this, insight6 has come up with an effective strategy that will help you to negotiate angry customers into loyal patrons.

Clean up the first response

 Before responding to an irate customer, consider their position. Nobody contacts the complaints department of a business because they want to. The reason for the call is likely to be because the caller is upset due to what they consider to be sub-par treatment from your company. Whether or not this upset is justified is, at the first point of contact, irrelevant. Your position when hearing out the complaint should come from one of total un-bias; good customer service employees are willing to listen and accept the customer’s story at face value instead of immediately attempting to negate it.

As Mark Goulston says in his book Talking To Crazy: ‘leaning in to crazy [a term he uses to describe incomprehensible hostile behaviour] can empower you to break free from communication strategies that [typically] fail and break through’[ii]. What Goulston means by this is that even if the person you are speaking with is being belligerent, rude or irrational, it is important not to allow your own instinctive anger to form a response. Instead, by attempting to empathise with the customer, even in an absurd context, you can diffuse their anger, and get to a place where you can negotiate. Through ‘leaning in’ to their perspective, you can convey to complaining customers that you have acknowledged and understood their frustration, which is what they want.

Something to keep in mind is that your customer is already aggrieved before reaching out to complain, and then on top of this, they are forced to plough through whatever formal complaints process your company has in place. Customer complaints processes can often be frustrating and unpleasant, as no doubt you have probably experienced at some point. Hostile responses from front of house staff are a shortcut towards the notorious “I wish to speak to the manager” request. This is an easily avoided conversation, combated by implementing proper training for your customer service staff.

Another fault that many companies fall into is failing to impress authority through tone and language during the initial report of a customer complaint. The last thing customers want is to feel in this situation is that their time is being wasted by speaking with someone that is not taking them seriously. By utilising simple, confident phrases such as: “I have the expertise to help you with your issue,” or “let’s go through what next steps we can take to solve this”, your staff can provide immediate assurance that they are in control, and are able to handle the complaint without needing to pass the phone around to find someone ‘in charge’.

Get the apology right

According to Forum Corporation’s research, 70% of customers leave a business because they feel the company doesn’t care about them. If a customer complains, it is because they feel they have been wronged by your organisation, and are seeking amends. The first step towards righting any wrong is an apology. Unfortunately, a large percentage of corporations and brands do not understand how to make a sincere apology, leaving customers disinclined to believe they are genuinely sorry.

To simplify this grey area, here is a formula for a proper apology that can be taught to your customer service team as a guideline when speaking with disgruntled clients:

  1. Express remorse for the specific problems the error has caused.
  2. Admit the company is at fault, and do not try to excuse the mistake.
  3. Offer to make it right and assure them it will not be repeated.

This formula is based on an article written by psychologist Christine Carter called The Three Parts of an Effective Apology. This article breaks down the concept of an apology into three components, based on what the apology intends to achieve. Apologies are not a chance to list excuses for behaviour that caused hurt, they are a demonstration of remorse for this behaviour. If the actions of your company somehow upset a customer, the apology for this should be reassuring enough that the upset party knows your company is totally accepting of the error, and fully intend to make up for it.

What does the customer want from the complaint?

Customers complain for a few different reasons: to express their dissatisfaction, to release their frustration, and to receive some compensation for their struggle. An apology will go a long way, but to ensure a customer does not move their business elsewhere, compensation can be a necessary part of smoothing over the issue.

An effective method of letting a customer feel they have been appropriately compensated is to personalise their reward to them. Instead of a generic partial refund, or company-branded merchandise, find the root of their initial complaint and tailor the offer around it. For example, if a customer purchased some legal advice on a house purchase and ended up dissatisfied, their compensation could be a discount on future mortgage advisement.

Regardless of the size of your business, your customers want to feel that they are your priority, that you value their specific custom. By paying attention to the precise needs of each individual client, you are more likely to build a loyal base of consumers, eager to recommend you to their family and friends.

Follow-up

At insight6, our Customer Experience Directors (CXD’s) have found time and again that one of the most significant positive changes a business can make to turn enquiries into confirmed clients is to follow-up. The follow-up is a simple and effective tool, comprising of a simple phone call or email one to three days after a client conversation. In this follow-up call or email, the client’s name should be used, details of their enquiry should be peppered in, and a plan should be established to secure further business.

After a complaint has been recorded, the follow-up is crucial. Whilst following the steps above will do wonders to placate an irate customer, the final step that will eradicate any further concerns about the competence of your company, is this follow-up call. Checking in with a client after their report of a problem is a signal that you still care about their satisfaction in regards to the organisation, even after the initial complaint has been resolved. This will make a customer feel valuable to the business, and at last the matter can be left alone.

When discussing how to deal with angry customers, remember to impress upon your customer service team that complaints should not be viewed as a wholly negative response. In a survey conducted by Customer Strategies Analyst Esteban Kolsky, only 1 in 25 customers complain to the company as opposed to sharing their grievances online. Once your customers begin typing their negative responses into the many review sites across the internet, it is far more difficult to erase their detrimental impact from your company’s reputation.

Direct complaints can be handled out of the public eye with the correct know-how. Once your staff have been trained in mediation strategies such as the ones we have exampled in this article, insight6 can guarantee you will see a significant decrease in loss of business from complaining customers.

Private Schools – Handling Professional Enquiries: Are You Failing At The Follow Up?

Across the UK, a huge percentage of private schools are failing to retain the interest of potential clients for one simple and easily amendable reason: neglecting the ‘follow-up’. Failing to ‘follow-up’ on an enquiry or visit means that your school is bypassing a vital ‘conversion window’, during which clients are most amenable to negotiation, and therefore more likely to be converted from a potential client into the parent of one of your students. Ignoring the client in this window could be perceived as a lack of interest and more crucially, an indifference towards the individual needs of the client and his or her child. So, what is the ‘follow-up’ rule, and where are you going wrong?

insight6 partners a number of independent schools, sending a team of our Researchers to assess the standards of customer service. Looking at a sample of reviews from schools prior to working with insight6 there was a lack of aftercare for potential clients, which may well have contributed to their disinclination to pursue business with the school. Once an initial enquiry has been made, it is vital that the client be contacted shortly afterward to resolve any outstanding concerns, and to lay the first stepping-stones towards securing their business. If a client is left to pursue the school of their own accord, your school risks their interest waning, or shifting towards other establishments with better customer service structures in place; there will be plenty of competitors poised to take the initiative where you did not. A ‘follow-up’ conversation is paramount to retaining your potential client’s attention, and should be thought of as part of the natural flow between handling a preliminary enquiry and enrolling a new student.

To ensure a successful school-client ‘courtship’, the ‘follow-up’ should be implemented in two stages: after the client’s initial enquiry, and then after their visit to the school. According to our Customer Experience Reviews (CX Reviews), the treatment received during these stages was lacking in a variety of ways, but most significantly during the immediate aftermath of correspondence. Whilst school’s often put effort into strengthening their front of house department to ensure that preliminary enquiries are handled with professionalism, it is crucial to note that a high standard of customer service needs to extend beyond a cheerful greeting and a pleasant phone attitude, and into the ‘follow-up’ phase.

A primary interaction with a possible client does not stop once the web or phone enquiry has ended. The ‘follow-up’ should be thought of as an additional step to this interaction, and a vital part of it. By implementing a set waiting period of 3 – 5 days, after which a ‘follow-up’ will be made if the client has not gotten back in touch, your school will stand out amongst others, and increase your prospects of gaining the client’s trust.

According to the sample insight6 looked at, only 41% of potential clients received a ‘follow-up’ call after their initial phone conversation, prior to working with insight6, meaning that over half (59%) of those that make an enquiry are not pursued by the school, despite indications that they may want to book a visit or learn more about what the school has to offer. Without a clear indication that their custom is wanted, clients may feel that their child is not being given precedence, which can be a deterrent from further attempts to form a relationship with the school.

In the initial stages of forming a relationship with your client, it is of the utmost importance that they are made to feel as though their needs are being prioritised. A ‘follow-up’ phone call to provide updates, and to remind the client of the school’s assets, is a small but enormously effective tool in eliminating any doubts about their importance to you.

Whilst it may seem obvious, an often neglected but important step to remember when dealing with any new client is to ensure their contact information is collected. According to our sample, less than half of potential clients had their details taken at the first point of contact. Not only does this lack of foresight immediately cancel out any chance of a ‘follow-up’, the message sent to clients is one of unprofessionalism and disinterest. The significance of making a record of even a small enquiry cannot be overlooked, as the ‘follow-up’ that will stem from this record could be the key.

Another step is to set an appropriate time for the ‘follow-up’ call with the prospective client where possible. This way, he or she immediately knows that they are being taken seriously, and that their child’s potential enrolment is important enough to the school to be pursued at a later date.

Your school is in its most advantageous position to convince a client to enrol their child just after a tour of the school has been given. Tours of the establishment are proven to be an effective way of attracting business. This is why it is once again vital to ensure a ‘follow-up’ takes place in the small window of time between the visit ending and the client having the chance to explore alternatives. Your staff will have worked hard to create a vibrant impression of the offer on the tour but the longer the ‘follow-up’ is left, the duller the impression of the visit becomes.in your client’s mind. The advantages of your establishment, however strongly impressed, can be diluted by the indifference of the school afterwards; the hard work your team put in to gain a rapport with the client or child may well be undone. Establishing a clear time and date for a follow-up call with your client is a simple but extremely effective tool to use to prevent this from happening. Just by reaching out to remind the client of your interest in them, and to thank them for their visit, you could distinguish yourself as a more personalised, caring establishment than your competitors.

Finally, the ‘follow-up’ call in itself should be representative of the high standards set by your school; your staff should understand the goal of the conversation – whether this is to answer any previous queries, to provide further information, or to schedule a visit to the school.  Data from our sample shows that in only 33% of cases did the school follow up with the client within that ideal 3 – 5 day window prior to working with insight6. Moreover, none of our Researchers reported any enthusiasm whatsoever from the staff member they were speaking within the ‘follow-up’ call, and no indication that the school had been doing anything to resolve their concerns.

A school’s reputation for professionalism is at risk in these small errors – as for example in not knowing the client’s name or being unable to recall previous conversations – and in this period, when a client is still forming their opinion of the school, you cannot afford oversights. The client is the priority, and needs to be treated as such by all of your team, including those that handle the customer service department.

Following on from this, your staff should be aware that professional conduct extends to every possible outcome of a client enquiry, even if that is an eventual decision to abandon the pursuit if it is not right for them. Your customer service department is the voice of your school, and represents the way you handle all matters, including disappointment. Leaving a negative impression here is undoubtedly a reputational risk, which is easily avoided through appropriate staff training and guidance.

Here at insight6, we are dedicated to identifying the weaker areas in your customer service department, but also to provide the tools with which to improve. Our thorough training and development sessions are a simple and effective way to teach your staff the importance of the ‘follow-up’, along with other strategies that will guarantee a more successful rate of attracting and keeping business.

Our sessions are tailored to your school’s needs, and provide interesting, interactive, fun methods of helping your staff to reach their highest potential as customer experience providers. During these stringent economic times, it is not an option for your school to be anything less than airtight in all departments, so that clients showing interest cannot be left to slip through the cracks. Paying attention to the small but significant details, making your client feel cared for and important and offering a truly personalised service are sure-fire ways to distinguish yourself amongst the sea of indifference that our research suggests can flow from many establishments.

The ‘follow-up’ is an easily implemented, inexpensive and incredibly effective tool; try making it front and centre stage of your business strategy and see where that takes you!

 

Are legal firms taking Customer Experience seriously?

The moment of truth.

Last year I sat on a panel at a law firm conference and the topic changed to client feedback.

Question from the audience: “Can I ask the CEO of the law firm what feedback he receives from his clients?”

I could have predicted the answer, but here goes…

“We receive a 96% excellent rating from our clients at the end of the experience.”

I had to interject. “So, tell me, what percentage of your clients do you ask?”

There was a pause and then “I believe we send out forms to 11% of our clients at the end of matter.”

“Ok,” I asked, “and what is the response rate of the 11%?”

“I believe 3%.” He murmured.

So, 3% of 11%, which equates to 3% of all clients think you are 96% excellent.

I did not have the courage but the words “so what do the other 98% think?” just fell out of my mouth.

This example highlights the biggest issue facing law firms today. They simply are either too scared to, don’t know how to, or even worse, don’t think they need to, listen to all of their clients all of the time.

Why the stigma?

So why, compared to all other business sectors are law firms so poor at the feedback game?  Arrogance, complacency, too busy, not skilled, can’t find the right partner to help?

We can make as many excuses as we like but it does all start at the top. If that be the CEO, the Department Head or the Marketing Lead.  The truth is most firms think they are really good at cx, when in reality they are getting left behind.

  • When 500 European leaders were asked if they delivered good or better customer service 80% of them raised their hand. When their customers were asked only 8% put their hand up. We all think we are good…but we don’t know if we don’t measure.
  • We know that firms that work with insight6 deliver a 12% better experience on new enquiries than firms that do not. See the Legal Journey 2018 for the proof.

This is not about being left behind other firms (although if you do nothing you will be) it’s about the whole sector being left behind society as they experience exceptional experiences elsewhere…

At a recent conference, that I was involved in organising, Amazon stated that their record click to delivery to the door for food in London is…wait for it…6 minutes.  Yes, 6 minutes.

The customer most likely to be receiving that order is a millennial (25-35 years old?) whose expectation now is just that. When next month it’s 30 minutes, if it ever will be, they are going to be happy, but not ecstatic. The NPS score may move from 10 to 8.

The issue for the law firm that has been trading for hundreds of years is that Amazon are now their competition and when someone calls to speak to a fee earner, how long do you think, is it acceptable to them to wait for a response. In their head “food….6 minutes, returned call…?”  It needs to be now, to compete.

So, the stigma is leaders in firms really need to understand that those raising the customer experience bar sit outside their sector and that is the place to look for the inspiration.  When British Airways introduced the “lie flat” bed, they looked at the luxury boat industry to find a solution. If they had asked their own engineers it would never have happened.  The same applies in law, until the leaders start to look outside their arena they will never make the change required.

Of course, what will, and is happening is that the internet and “disrupters” will come more into play and take the market share of enquiries and then start dominating the legal landscape.  No one can say no one has not been warned or indeed they did not have time to do anything about it.

It’s going to happen and how you respond will determine your firm’s future. 

So why are leaders so slow to react and do anything?

There are generally three categories that we assess firms by as to where their CX thinking is. It goes like this:

  1. Firms that are doing it but need to do it more or properly
  2. Firms that want to but don’t know where to start
  3. Firms that know they are already great

It does not take a brain surgeon to identify the category that needs to worry most, but there is little point in worrying about those firms as they are great already…and by the time the leader retires it will be far too late.

So, let’s look at the first category. Yes, we are doing it but need to do it more or properly.

A few months ago I was sitting in the boardroom of a prominent law firm when I was asked by the partners how much measurement and activity do we need to do to make this really work? My first question was “well, what do you do now?”

They looked at one another.  I was in my head working it out. 60 fee earners, 200 support staff, they must do team surveys, end of matter surveys and maybe some client reviews (mystery shopping) as a bare minimal…surely?

The answer came like a bolt out of the preverbal blue… “last year we did 10 phone surveys.”

“OK, and how many conversations in each survey?”

“That’s it ten.”

The good news is they were a tad embarrassed and were in the room with me as they knew they needed to get it sorted out. The even better news was that they were keen, enthused and were going to be the influencers in this business that have traded for many hundreds of years.  They were going to be the catalysts for CHANGE. One piece of key advice I can give is it is always best to start these programmes in a small way and then open them up slowly to the whole business.

That way the influencers can influence and the partners who sit on the fence see the benefits and then come on board. Over time they all do. If you introduce a large programme across the group excuses are made for the feedback, it gets too hard and it kills off any future activity again.  It would have been less damaging to do nothing.

How do you, the influencers, work your magic?

To help with influencing those who are still sat on the fence it is best to ask whether our CX programmes do one or all of the following:

  1. Will it make us money?
  2. Will it save us money?
  3. Will it make people happier?

So, let us take one department of a firm, let’s say family. Family clients are emotive and therefore tell the story but more than that they need to connect with your team faster and quicker than any other client group, as it’s all about them and their personal needs.

How can we save money by working on the CX in a firm with a family department?  The easiest way is to start with some measurement.

For example, how many clients pay 100% of their bill on time.  Our experience tells us that 20% of clients query their bill, and over 50% of the bills are reduced by 10%.  OK do the maths…a firm turns over £20m. £4m of billing is questioned. £500,000 is given back as a way to appease.  Then add in the time and disruption to the business handling the client plus the reputational damage…you get the picture I am painting here.

Agh, I forgot about the firm I met recently that has a full time complaints officer. Let us make it £600,000 given away each year. That’s a lot of new business to create.

How can a good CX programme actually make you money?

It’s simple.  You totally tear up your enquiry strategy and start again. Here are some startling facts we found when we recently measured the enquiry process for 70 law firms. The headlines are:

  1. Only 7% of new phone enquiries are followed up
  2. Only 25% of clients felt that a meeting with a solicitor was held in a suitably private place on walk-in enquiries.
  3. Only 39% of website enquiries led to a conversation between the client and a fee earner.

If you want to view the full report, please click here.  Handling enquiries really well where the potential client receives good advice quickly and there is a slick follow up process will revolutionise the conversion from enquiry to business.

Customer mapping, where you work with your team to identify the process now and how it needs to be changed to sign up more business energises the team and makes them responsible for the process, which in turn leads to more sign ups.

It makes firms more money.

How can a programme save you money?

CX programmes save you money because they identify issues before they become problems.  This approach ensures less clients query the bill and if they do the reduction is less. It makes sense really.

Why do restaurant staff ask you if you are enjoying your meal? It’s simple, you are reaffirming to yourself that its good or not. If it’s not they can act on it so when it comes to pay the bill there will be no dispute. In fact, stats tell us customers are happier when a problem is resolved really well, as opposed when nothing has ever happened before.

So, image your firm where 75% of your clients give you feedback on a regular basis which is directly linked to a department, a fee earner or a building.  Every morning you turn on your PC and up the results come in real live time from all the clients that have responded to your online survey. They will answer it as you mentioned it when you signed them up and explained the benefits it will bring to both them and the business.

You can see:

  • Which customers are really happy – these are the ones who are not going to have a query on the bill at the end of matter and become your fans. You can ask them for a testimonial and more importantly say well done to the team and the team member.
  • Those customers who are neither happy or disappointed. So, action is required here, and you ask the head of department to call the client to work out how you can make them really happy with the experience. This is where as a business you really learn. The insight your client will give you leads to internal action that will improve life for everyone.
  • Those clients that are not happy. This is time for the CEO to step into action. There is nothing more powerful than the CEO turning around the situation. The good news is that you have caught it early and you have another 6 months to make them love you again. During which time you shall be asking them 4 more times. It works.

Let me share two top tips that I have picked up working with law firms:

  1. Use technology that is tailored for your business
  2. Work with a supplier who can help you with solutions. There is nothing worse than measuring and the client thinks you are doing something about it and nothing happens.

How can we make the team happier?

In the thousands of team surveys we have conducted the number one incentive teams want is a “well done.” It is that easy. Recognition from the boss, personal and heart felt goes a long, long way.  How can you have such a system in your business?

Let’s start to talk about what you can do about it.

The answer is in the measurement and reflection.

So what next?  This initial process may take 6 to 12 months to bed in but you will see instant results both financial and motivational. The next challenge is how you move this new initiative or culture shift across the whole business.  That one is for another day but if you like what you hear and you need some CX partners then please click here to contact one of our CX Directors who can help you with everything I have mentioned in this article.

 

Customer Engagement Strategies

Strategies you can implement to improve customer engagement

insight6 explores the importance of customer engagement, the impact it has on Customer Experience and the strategies you can apply to your business.

What does it mean?

Customer engagement is any direct contact between a brand and its customers. It is incredibly important that brands reach out to customers in the right way so that they positively enhance the Customer Experience. Interactions between a brand and its customer can be both offline or online, ranging from surveys and point of sale promotions to mentioning each other on Twitter.

How a brand interacts with their customers will vary depending on the business and who their customers are. Brands that are targeted towards the younger generations, for example, should be looking at social media and other forms of online engagement to truly grab their audience’s attention on a platform that suits the customer. The rise of social media has had a real positive influence on the ability of brands to engage with their customers as it provides a quick and accessible way to provide support, information, address issues and increase brand awareness.

What impact does this have on Customer Experience?

To put it simply, when a customer feels engaged and connected to a brand they are more likely to have a positive overall experience.

By engaging with its customers, a brand can positively enhance the emotional connection that is required for the best Customer Experience. The modern customer has become accustomed, and now expects, the opportunity to be an active part of a company. Customers don’t wish too simply make a purchase, they are interested in the journey, they want to actively participate and become a part of a brand.

With the benefits that engaging your customers can bring to Customer Experience in mind, here are our insight6 strategies you should be applying to your brand to improve customer engagement:

6 Customer engagement strategies you should apply to your business

1 ) Take advantage of social media

Without a doubt, social media has had a massive influence on the ability of brands to engage with their customers. Social media, if used properly, can be an extremely effective tool in breaking news to customers, posting engaging content for them to share, to address issues, and to promote your brand.

Do your research and find out which social media sites are popular with your customer base and focus your efforts there. Invite customers to leave reviews of your business online so that they can share their experiences with your brand.

2 ) Open up special communications for ‘V.I.P’ customers

If you want to encourage brand loyalty then creating a form of membership or V.I.P club for long standing customers is a great initiative. V.I.P customers should be those who have used the brand for a while, referred friends and family to it and are genuinely just fans of the brand.

These customers can be offered exclusive access to things such as a member’s login on your website, a special monthly members newsletter with unique discounts available. Whatever you choose to offer it is all about your brand becoming closer to its customers. This form of engagement works really well with any long standing customers, improving their experience and making them feel valued for the time and money they have spent on your brand.

Of course, you should engage with every customer but providing an extra level to that the most loyal customers will add that extra incentive to keep them coming back.

3 ) Closely follow the customer journey

Closely follow the developments and journey of your customers as they use your business – at what points are they most impressed? What issues do they bring up that need to be addressed?

By following their journey and development you will be able to gain a better understanding of the changes you can make at each stage of the process and where you can better engage with your customers in the future. In turn this will allow you to put your time into these ideas with confidence that they will work.

4 ) Personalise your customer communication

There are many ways to ensure that the communication that you have with your customers is personal and it is something that you should make a priority as it helps to make a customer feel closer connected to the brand.

With the advances in technology, it is now easier than ever to provide customers with personalised content, for example, you can send an email to customers on their birthday through an automatically generated system, offering them a discount or special offer to celebrate their day. You will have noticed this is something huge brands such as Netflix, Spotify and Amazon do regularly by having ‘recommended for you’ sections on their websites.

A simpler way to personalise your communication with a customer is to ensure that you take down their name and use it whenever you are communicating with them. Whichever way you achieve personalisation, the aim should always be to make the customer feel as welcome as possible.

5 ) Let the customers meet the team behind the brand

While it is possible for customers to connect with a brand, people naturally connect with each other. If it is possible, let the customers meet the team behind your brand, whether that is through social media, email or in person, communication doesn’t have to be signed off from the brand. If you are communicating with the customer via email or social media then let the team member dealing with the customer sign off with their own name and use their own individual personality to their advantage in building a relationship with the customer.

6 ) Host Q&A sessions and events

Not all engagement has to be online. One great way to engage with your customers is to host events or Q&A sessions where customers can come and find out more about the products or services that you offer. Think about what you offer and the kind of event your customer would like to attend – would they like an opportunity to come and ask questions about current products and products of the future? Could you hold a conference style event with seminar speakers? Or an awards evening? There are many possibilities – think back to your V.I.P customers, you could even host an exclusive event for them, think how special and looked after they will feel being given an invite.

Why is customer engagement important?

In terms of numbers, statistics from Gallup research shows that having fully engaged customers leads to 23% more revenue than average.

Having contact and engaging your customers is crucial in gaining a better understanding of what your customer wants from you. There are a huge number of benefits to engaging your customers in the right way including building customer loyalty, trust, building better relationships and gaining their valuable insights.

There is no one engagement strategy that would work for every business, so it is important to tailor yours to your brand and to your customers, but the focus should always be on building a connection with your customers.

Get in touch with your local CX Director today

9 ways to keep your customers coming back

Customer Retention

Customer Retention

A customer makes an enquiry, you make the perfect pitch, win the conversion and ultimately win the customer’s purchase – success! But does the journey end there? Not if you want them to keep coming back.

According to KPMG, customer retention is cited as the biggest revenue driver for businesses putting it above customer acquisition, product innovations, pricing and promotional strategies, and technological advancements.

Coupled with the fact that poor Customer Experience is by far the most common reason for a customer leaving a company (68%), you can see why retaining customers and treating them right is so important.

With that in mind, insight6 presents to you: 9 ways to retain your customers. 

 

1) Follow up and get feedback

If you want your customers to keep coming back then you need to know exactly what it is that they want. To make improvements to the service you offer the best person to ask what could be improved is the customer.

Getting feedback does not have to be a long, complicated, process. It can be gained via exit interviews, email survey forms or asking customers to leave a review on social media. It should be made as simple as possible for customers to provide feedback as the majority of people will not bother to go through a long questionnaire.

The first thing to do is to stay in touch with the customer. Part of providing excellent Customer Experience is to ensure that the customer is happy after they have used your business. Go the extra mile by asking the customer when would be convenient for you to give them a call.

Not only will this keep you in the mind of your customers, it will also show them that you care, you didn’t just forget about them when they left the door.

Insight6

Get in touch with insight6 today to find out how we can help you gain the very best feedback from your customers.

 

2) Have a passionate team

When a customer uses your services do you want them to be greeted by a team who don’t really understand your offering, are unenthusiastic and are only there for the money, or do you want them to be greeted by a team who love the service, make an effort to relate to the customer on a personal level and genuinely love what they do?

Ok, these are two extremes but the point stands. Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm, and if your team has it then the customer is much more likely to get excited by the brand itself. A customer is much more likely to return somewhere where they got to know the team and felt that they were passionate about finding them the perfect solution.

 

3) Create something your customer will keep

To keep yourself in the minds of your customers and to keep them coming back, you want them to have a familiarity with the brand. By doing something as simple as offering out a free branded pen, socks, notebook, you name it, customers will see and use the item and build a familiarity with your brand. Then when they need to use your services again, who will they think of first? You.

The great thing about collateral such as this is that when they start using it in front of other people, they will be asked about it. They create more conversations about your brand and if you have provided them with a truly memorable experience, your customers will tell others that and recommend you.

insight6

 

4) Be transparent and honest with your customers

It is often said that relationships are built on a foundation of trust. The same applies to a relationship between you and your customers. If they can’t trust you, how do you expect them to continue to purchase from you? Don’t be dishonest or over exaggerate to get that initial sale, it is just not sustainable.

If the customer is unhappy with a product or service because they feel they have been deceived, then the least they are going to do is simply not come back. You are also risking them complaining, asking for a refund and letting their friends and family know about how deceitful the company was. Does that all seem worth it for that one sale?

 

5) Personalise their experience

People like to do business with other people that they know and, importantly, like. Small things such as using their name when communicating with them, whether by email, phone or in person, make a big difference to their overall experience. It makes them feel valued and that helps to build trust. The more your business connects with a customer on a personal level, the more they will trust your brand, meaning they are more likely to come back to you in the future. 

 

6) Own up to your mistakes

If something has gone wrong and the customer is not happy, the most important thing for you to do is to listen to them. If it turns out that for whatever reason you haven’t been able to fully deliver what the customer was promised, own up to that mistake and offer the customer some form of apology. You could even offer the customer a discount voucher for next time they come which encourages them to come back or give them a complete refund or replacement, depending on the scale of the problem.

It is inevitable that mistakes will happen, but the majority of your customers will understand as long as you take the necessary measures to put it right. Not everyone will come back despite your efforts but by owning up to your mistakes and apologising you are doing everything you can to keep them happy and to retain them as a customer.

 

7) Reward loyalty

Offering customers who have purchased multiple items or are a regular user of your service a special reward shows them that you value them. If you show your customer that you not only welcome them back in but will reward them for doing so, they will keep coming back. One of the best ways of achieving this is to set up a loyalty card scheme. There are a number of different scheme types you could use such as ‘10th purchase is free’ or even a bonus system where they build up points that they can spend with you.

Be careful though, you don’t want to devalue the services that you do offer by making discounts and free rewards too easy to obtain. Not all loyalty schemes work for all businesses, so you may have to do some thinking as to what would work best for your customers.

 

Keep Customers Coming Back

 

8) Keep the experience fresh

Constantly be updating and improving your Customer Experience to ensure that you stay up to date and ahead of your competition. Keeping things different will prevent customers from getting bored with the experience and gives them a reason to go back to find out what will be different the next time. We’re not talking about changing your seafood restaurant into a Chinese takeaway but make sure you are changing things up every now and again. Go back to point one and look at the feedback you have received from your customers to get the best ideas on what you can do differently.

 

9) Always thank the customer – even when they do not make a purchase

It sounds obvious, but it is amazing how many times as a customer you do business with a company and they don’t thank you for it. It is so simple and yet leaves the customer feeling valued and respected. Failing to thank the customer can lead to them feeling dejected and that their purchase didn’t really matter to you.

Equally important however is to thank a customer who has decided not to make a purchase on one occasion. It may be the case that they don’t ever come back, but on the other hand, it could just be that they are thinking about coming back later or that they want to explore all of their options first. If you want a customer to keep coming back you have to think of the long run, they may not have bought from you on this occasion but if you show them politeness and a good attitude then they are far more likely to come back in the future.

 

To find out more about how insight6 can help you to achieve world class customer experience, get in touch today.

 

How does customer facing technology impact Customer Experience?

Should we be using more technology in customer facing roles? What currently exists and what are the benefits and limitations?

artificial_intelligence

It sounds like a statistic that cannot be true but by the year 2025, it is estimated that 95% of all customer interactions will be supported by Artificial Intelligence technology.

That may feel like it is a long way into the future but actually, 2025 is only seven years away. Technology is developing at a rapid pace. People are becoming accustomed to using technology at home, in schools and in work so it makes sense that it is increasingly expected by customers.

For a long time now, machines have been making manufacturing tasks more efficient and are usually able to work faster and to a bigger order than humans. With technology advancing at a rapid rate, could it really take a more customer facing role and how would this impact Customer Experience?

Where is technology currently used in Customer Experience?

To help us understand the kind of customer facing technology that is available and how it has had an impact on customer service, we explore six examples of where technology, in one form or another, impacts Customer Experience.

Chatbots

What are they?

Chatbots are found online usually on websites where a customer may be looking for extra information. Powered by rules, and often artificial intelligence, they can be used by businesses to replicate an online chatting tool with a human in order to point a customer in the right direction.

Any examples?

There are a number of different chatbots that businesses have started using for multiple different functions. The supermarket chain Lidl uses a Facebook messenger bot to suggest different wines to customers. You can ‘message’ the bot telling it what you are going to eat, or what kind of ingredients you are using and the bot will message you back with some suggestions. Similarly, clothing brand North Face has a function on its website where a chatbot will ask you a series of questions about what you are looking for in a jacket. By typing in answers to questions, such as where you will be wearing the jacket and what style of pockets you are after, the bot will recommend certain jackets based on the answers.

How does this impact the Customer Experience?

Chatbots provide a quick and simple solution to customers who are looking to resolve an issue or looking for some information. Instead of having to search the website themselves, or waiting to talk to someone, chatbots offer instant support. However, the problem lies when the chatbot is unable to resolve a customer’s query which could result in frustration. It is too early to say whether functions such as Lidl and North Face’s unique ways of searching for products is something that will catch on or whether it is a novelty phase that will pass.

According to Gartner, 70% of all customers expect a company’s website to include a self-service application without having to interact with a human.

Document analysis

What is this?

Using artificial intelligence, computers are now able to review a large number of documents and flag up any that are relevant. This has proved extremely useful especially to law firms who can use the algorithms to find relevant cases.

How does this impact customer service?

The document analysis itself does not actually have a direct impact on customer experience, in this instance. What it does do however is free up more time for those working in a law firm to spend with the client, meaning it should be made easier to provide excellent Customer Experience.

Self-service

What is this?

We have all seen the option to go to the self-checkout queue in shops. This is where customers can scan their own items rather than heading over to the checkout manned by a human. The idea is to speed up the process as much more checkouts can be added in a smaller space.

How does this impact customer experience?

It all comes down to speed versus human service. If a customer would prefer a swift exit they would head over to the self-checkout section. If they would rather have a human interaction while shopping they will head over to the original style checkout It is all about having that choice available.

Mobile apps

What is this?

Many businesses have now launched applications that can be downloaded onto the customers’ smartphones. Banks are a prime example of a business that is moving away from customer interaction in store and moving towards online. It is now possible to move money between accounts, open new accounts, apply for a credit card and even pay in cheques all via your phone.

How does this impact customer experience?

Again, it is all about efficiency and making the process easier for the customer. If it is possible to do something remotely or on the go then it is hugely time saving and beneficial to the customer.

Benefits and limitations

To weigh up the potential of using customer facing technology as part of the Customer Experience, we take a look at the benefits that it brings and the limitations that it has.

Looking at the examples above of where technology has already had an impact on customer service, you may spot a common theme – there is limited, or no, human interaction.

This is a massive limitation on using technology in customer facing roles as human emotion is one of the driving factors in customers’ decisions. Technology cannot emote these reactions in the same way that humans can.

Technology can provide intrigue and wonder, but it cannot greet a customer in the same way a human can, it can’t build a relationship with the customer, and it can’t go that extra mile.

Using technology instead of humans can also limit the opportunities for upselling. While it may be quicker and more efficient for customers, machines cannot sell additional products or services in the same way that a human can. Machines can make them aware of offers, as some self-checkout machines have started doing, but the average customer is much more inclined to say no.

Benefits Limitations
Speed and efficiency Lack of emotion
Up to date technology Frustrations can’t be resolved
Data and insights Perception there is lack of care
Cost cutting Lost opportunity for upselling

 

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI), to put it in its simplest term, makes it possible for machines and technology to perform human like tasks such as playing chess, scanning and registering products in a shopping basket and driving a human-less car. The more AI powered machines interact with humans the more they learn. For example, a chatbot will redetermine its responses for future ‘conversations’ after each interaction by learning from the human’s response.

Customer Experience is only a small portion of the uses that AI has and will have in the future. Even if you haven’t come across it in a shop, bank, solicitors you will certainly have seen it used somewhere.

We have support systems such as Siri or Cortana on our phones and laptops, we use apps such as google maps to track live traffic updates and planes use autopilot features. Using technology and artificial intelligence has become a massive part of everyday life.

The ability to learn is the key to why people believe AI can have a big impact on Customer Experience in the future.

Conclusion

You don’t have to have the most incredible technology to provide world-class Customer Experience. Having a brilliantly trained team who know how to communicate with your customers is much more important, but it does offer a special alternative and efficient way for customers to find information, particularly online.

It is important to remember that Customer Experience is about serving customers – there needs to be a careful balance struck between using technology and providing a human interaction. It is no use having all of the latest technology if the customer can’t find what they are looking for, gets frustrated and doesn’t have access to a human to find a solution.

We live in a time when results are expected immediately. Things happen so quickly – communication, entertainment, deliveries – they are all just a few clicks away.

It is true that technology has helped to make us more efficient in that sense, but it also comes with a warning. It will be the brands which adopt a hybrid approach and find the right balance which really benefit from customer facing technology.

Get in touch with your local Customer Experience Director today to find out how you can achieve CX Factor.

 

 

Is Your CX Strategy Red?

Customer experience (CX) strategies are in. Outdated marketing plans based on figures and historic patterns are out.

Believe it or not there are still many business leaders out there who sit in their offices and ponder the best ways to launch a new product, develop a new marketing campaign or sign up new business without acknowledging the one most important factor in all of these plans; the customer. The metrics matter. But not as much as the colour of love.

The customer of today is more informed and more in control of the experience they receive. Customers don’t just expect polite, friendly service; they expect businesses to know their individual needs and preferences and often expect their experience to be customised for them. Today’s customer wants to feel valued, to be listened to and to feel that they matter to you. They want to feel loved.

Most business leaders now recognise that customer engagement is key to maximising profit and are already placing greater emphasis on driving customer value, loyalty and retention. Customer experience is destined to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator in the future, so if you are still not prioritising the customer journey, you need to re-evaluate.

If you treat your customers with that criteria in mind you will win a lifetime supporter whose value could be worth more than a new customer.

CX Strategy - RED

So instead of simply focusing on expanding your customer database, try our three simple steps to improve your profits immediately:

1.    Develop Strategies To Retain Your Existing Customer Database

A repeat customer spends 67% more than a new one (BIA/Kelsey).

What are you doing to retain your existing customers?

  • Are you updating them on new products or services?
  • Do you offer incentives to draw them back?
  • Do you invite them to stay in touch and perhaps share their experience with others?
  • Do you offer competitions or draws to make them feel valued?
  • Do you create opportunities to ask for their feedback and views?

If a customer already has a relationship with you and likes what you offer, they will return, unless you give them a reason NOT to.

2.    Improve Your Customer Engagement

Engaging with your customer is much more than a simple ‘hello’ as they enter your premises or site. Customers want to feel loved and appreciated. They need to feel that if there is a problem, it will be handled confidently.

  • How often do you engage with your customer? If it is only during the transaction you are not really engaging your customer.
  • Do you stay in their minds by keeping in contact with them?
  • Do you have a weekly or monthly newsletter?
  • Do you have seasonal events or occasions to invite them back?
  • Is every member of your team aware of the need to make your customer feel special? It’s a culture. Spread the intent throughout the whole team.

3.    Maximise Your Customer Lifetime Value

My father only ever owned a Vauxhall. He loved the cars and said he always received great service. His local dealer knew him, addressed him by name and always had his favorite paper in the waiting room when he took his car for a service. He was a lifetime customer and no amount of persuading would encourage him to defect.

  • Reward your longstanding customers.
  • Pay attention to the little things; that’s what makes your customer feel special.
  • Be honest and transparent at all times.
  • Effective customer engagement calls for a thorough understanding of the customer. Make sure you KNOW that your customer is a wheelchair user or works abroad.

Forward thinking businesses go to great lengths to identify their ‘typical’ customer and then attempt to create deeper parallels by matching social and ethical preferences. For example, businesses that advertise charitable work or sustainable or eco-friendly ethics publicise these values and attract like-minded customers.

Customer lifetime value is one of the most important metrics in your business toolbox.

In this age of the empowered customer, businesses must look forward to develop better customer engagement strategies. Being reactive does not work in the arena of customer relationships; it’s about being proactive, about noticing and predicting your customer intelligence and using big data to provide customer mapping. It’s about being sure your customer journey is great – in every regard and at all times.

The expectations of the 21st century customer are complex and multi-faceted. Competition is fierce and digital platforms flood your customer’s inbox or newsfeed with attractive offers every second. And yet the answer to a healthier bottom line is so simple. Love your customer. Your CX strategy should be front, back and middle of any business strategy if you are to grow and create solid foundations for future profits. And the mantra again…….LOVE YOUR CUSTOMER!