Client experience is something that you can’t fool around with, you simply must be on it. My thoughts about how we can meet or exceed client expectations today.
eCommerce drives client expectations
Today B2C (Business-to-Consumer) eCommerce client experiences translate into increased expectations in a B2B (Business-to-Business) world. The simple mechanism: we order more and more online and so everyone is familiar with this experience in the B2C-context which we automatically apply to any order we place in a B2B-setting.
Technological progress has been enormous over the last decades, and the current pandemic might even accelerate another shift to digital. It has been only 132 years since Bertha Benz, the wife of one of Mercedes-Benz’ founders, for the first time in history took one of her husband’s prototypes on a long-distance (66 miles) journey. While this story is remarkable in many ways, it also serves as a reminder for me as a German that we have come very far in a very short time – and technological progress is moving faster than ever. Client expectations are moving at the same speed, and companies must keep up with their clients.
Client experience must cover the complete customer journey – if there is a breach at a certain point this affects the complete experience. I recently had a negative experience online. Maybe 10 years ago I would have accepted that. Today I don’t.
Clients don’t care about your internal processes
When we talk about innovation, we often think of products, processes, and business models first.
Clients don’t care about our internal processes. They care about your performance. Processes need to be contemporary. Otherwise the client will either think that you are slow or too complicated to deal with.
There are many possibilities today for clients to rate a company’s performance online (Facebook, Twitter, Google reviews, Trustpilot, etc.). In addition to that we get their direct feedback in meetings, via telephone, or via responses to N-SAT or NPS surveys. View these insights as gifts. They help to identify pain points and then to work on them.
This is one of the easiest things on one hand, but on the other hand it is hard. You need to focus on that and make it become part of your process.
We are commemorating our 100th anniversary this year at Pitney Bowes. This reflects our culture of doing the right thing the right way and it is a proof point that we have always been putting clients first. Continuously optimizing our processes is an intrinsic part of our long-term strategy.
In case you have been in the market for a long time, checking and re-questioning the internal processes becomes even more important.
Ownership drives mindset
Whatever we do, whatever we achieve, it is with or through our employees.
I can look at dashboards any time of the day but it’s not an emotional connection. We are not dealing with numbers but with real people and in general, nobody wants to disappoint anyone.
If you render things personal, people act. If a client sends a bad review, the manager will call this person. This makes client experience a very tangible thing. When you do that you develop a relationship. You show you care, and you do something about it.
It is important to see the bigger picture and the value you add in the work you do rather than sticking to the area we control. Look beyond. Think about what happens before and after you handle your job. And: speak with clients, hear what they say about their needs. This is the best way – and a most energizing one – to live a culture of putting clients first in anything you do.
My final point is “empowerment”: create some latitude for employees to do something about a complaint. An annoyed client will be grateful, if you are able to fix the issue. Which in return leaves a positive experience for both sides – and finishes at its best with these thoughts: “My complaint was handled and resolved professionally” or “I helped somebody today”.
These are both very satisfying feelings, aren’t they?
Christoph Stehmann, Executive Vice President, International, Sending Technology Solutions.