Here’s Why Customer Experience Is More Important Today Than Ever Before

Here’s Why Customer Experience Is More Important Today Than Ever Before

More metrics are focused on customer experience than ever before. But if your overall marketing strategy isn’t designed around “customer experience” yet, you may have questions about how to get started.

Many experts have weighed in on the importance of customer experience in modern business. In this article, we’ll refer to a few published by Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Hubspot to better explain what it is and why it’s important.

We’ll explain what Klient has to offer to help your company deliver a positive experience for customers.

What Is Customer Experience?

Martin Zwilling of Forbes explains that while it used to be enough to focus on quality, value, and customer service, that isn’t the case anymore.

Today, the internet has turned the customer-company relationship into more of a relationship than ever before.

When organizations focus on individual touchpoints, they can falsely inflate their sense of a customer’s happiness. Instead, you need a comprehensive picture of the entire journey customers go through with your company.

So, if a series of individual touchpoints is not an accurate picture of customer experience, what is?

Hubspot’s Jason Bordeaux defines customer experience as “the impression you leave with your customer, resulting in how they think of your brand, across every stage of the customer journey.”

It involves many touchpoints, particularly between customers and your people or your product. But addressing one or two problematic touchpoints is not going to improve the customer’s overall impression of your business.

Why Is Customer Experience So Important?

The internet has changed the way companies interact with their customers in multiple ways.

There are more competitors available, and switching between them is easier since it can often be done with just a few clicks.

Customers also share their experiences publicly with friends, family, and any others through social media.

If a customer has a bad overall experience with your company, they can find another provider, switch to them easily, and then tell everyone they know online why they left you.

And they do.

Improving Customer Experience With Professional Services Automation

Delivering a consistently positive customer experience starts with having an easily accessible database of customer data.

Klient’s PSA software is intrinsically adept at capturing many types of information and bringing it together in novel ways. That includes information related to:

  • Accounting
  • Calendar management
  • Collaboration
  • Document management
  • Expense tracking
  • Invoicing
  • Project management
  • Proposals
  • Resource management.

It’s also built on Salesforce Lightning, giving your employees the best user experience possible to encourage adoption through ease of use.

Having one centralized system to manage all of these touchpoints sets up your organization to improve customer experience in four key areas:

1. At the Sales Stage

Services will have better planning and forecasting abilities with Sales pipeline visibility. This allows the two departments to work hand in hand as prospects become customers. It also creates better services opportunities via forecasting and opportunities management.

2. During Project Execution

Service managers can use that visibility into the Sales Pipeline to better manage resources for the right project at the right time.

3. At the Expansion Stage

Klient’s PSA system also supports repeat and recurring billing, allowing for seamless repeat transactions.

4. Promoting Retention and Advocacy

The system also uses built-in customer surveys and a customer health check. That way, everyone stays aware of the customer’s account status. Tracking the customer journey has never been easier.

Conclusion

Shifting your organization’s focus to customer experience might seem like a hefty task.

Or, if you’re already working toward a great customer experience, you may need an additional tool to push the customer journey over the top.

With the right PSA system, employees will have an easier time handling prospects and customers. Leadership, too, will have easier access to the information they need.

This helps your organization deliver a single, memorable experience that makes customers happy — and keeps them that way.

How to Overcome the Top 3 Customer Success Challenges

How to Overcome the Top 3 Customer Success Challenges

As the world becomes more customer-centered, the need to foster customer success is more important than ever before. Achieving customer success means that your customers gain their desired value from your product or service, and can use it to meet their long-term goals.

In a professional services capacity, this often means delivering your service to the client in such a way that helps them achieve their goals with as few roadblocks as possible throughout the service delivery period. If you succeed in doing so, you will have happy and loyal customers for life. That means that aligning your business goals with those of your customers spells prosperity for your business for years to come.

However, this process takes dedicated nurturance of the customer relationship. And you will inevitably end up facing customer success challenges along your journey to complete customer-centricity. While problems are bound to arise, customer-centricity gives you the tools you need to effectively handle any issues and ultimately still achieve customer success.

Customer Success Challenges and How To Face Them

We all want to make our customers happy, but customer success challenges can arise for a variety of reasons. You may not have the right processes in place. You may lack the ability to gather data and draw insights that improve the customer experience. There may be a problem with the product itself. Your sales team may have scoped the project incorrectly and now the service you’re delivering isn’t matching your customers expectations. No matter the cause, your customer success team will always be on the front lines of problem-solving and will need best practices to rectify complaints.

Here are some of the most common customer success challenges your team may face and ways to overcome them:

#1. Poor Customer Visibility

From the moment the sale is complete, you need to monitor your customer’s progress with your product or service. You need to know if each customer is properly passing each adoption milestone. It’s important to monitor the details of their product usage, such as usage frequency and which features they do and do not use.

You should also monitor customer health scores and keep an eye on other KPIs, especially in the professional services industry. By taking the time to carefully monitor each customer, your team can watch over all your customer relationships, ensuring that no at-risk customer slips under the radar.

In a professional services capacity, having a professional services automation (PSA) solution like Klient Software can help you improve customer visibility through survey tools, and health check statuses, as well as detailed reporting to see how projects are progressing and aligning to the customers’ expectations. Since Klient PSA is also built native on Salesforce, your sales and services teams can work hand in hand to ensure that expectations are clear and projects are delivered according to scope.

#2. Gaps In Customer Nurturance

It’s imperative to nurture the relationship your brand has with each of your customers. If nurturance is inconsistent in its thoroughness or scope, customers can slip through the cracks, raising churn rates. You need to invest time in every customer and provide quality engagements. This is true whether you sell a product or a service.

Accounts should be tracked and routed to customer success team members or managers for proper engagement. Team members can track changes in customer value over time and evaluate if there are any concerning signs. This enables your team to give the correct amount of nurturance to every customer.

A marketing automation tool, such as HubSpot, Marketo, or Pardot, can also help with customer nurturance. You can set up automated email marketing campaigns specifically designed to foster relationships with your existing customers, improve their awareness of your product or service, and ensure you meet their needs in the future as their business grows and evolves.

#3. Customers Are Not Seeing Value

When customers stop seeing the value of your product or the service you’re offering, they will most likely churn. While winback campaigns can be effective at times, the best solution to this problem is prevention.

Your business needs to deliver value constantly. Build value from the moment a customer makes a sale by identifying the value a customer is looking for and helping them achieve it. As adoption goes on, deliver expanding value in the form of new functionalities or features. And listen to feedback, as a customer’s goals can always evolve.

In professional services specifically, providing value for a customer usually means ensuring that the quality of service you promised them when they signed your proposal, is the quality of service you’re delivering to them. Your customer will also see value if the service you deliver to them is delivered on time, on budget, and according to scope. Most important, is that upon successful completion of the project, your customer can clearly see how this service solved their problem, and will help their business be more successful moving forward.

A PSA solution like Klient Software can help your customers see the value in your service, by empowering you to stay on scope, on time, and on budget, and provide the customer full transparency as you work through their project so they can see any reasons for delays, additional hours billed, etc.

Overcome These Customer Success Challenges & Watch Your Business Grow

Improving your company’s levels of customer success provides an opportunity to see strong, ongoing growth. Happy customers are loyal, and not only are they apt to accept upsell or cross-sell offers, but they may even give your business good word-of-mouth, which is invaluable for your brand’s reputation.

Once you center your company’s goals around those of your customers, you’ll be ready to exceed your customers’ expectations in terms of delivered value. And nothing’s more cost-efficient and beneficial than retaining customers.

The Top 5 Professional Services Metrics You Need To Be Tracking For Customer Success

The Top 5 Professional Services Metrics You Need To Be Tracking For Customer Success

The most mature professional services organizations and the ones who consistently deliver successful projects and foster long-term customer relationships, are those that offer high levels of organizational visibility across departments, have optimized business processes and integrated systems, focus on profit improvements, and have moved away from a one-time project focus to an increased emphasis on delivering great customer experiences for life.

These organizations have largely accomplished this by tracking 5 important and influential metrics for the professional services market. These metrics are not only imperative to a profitable business, but also critical in keeping customers happy through improved service delivery experiences. We recommend that all organizations who deliver projects to clients, start tracking these 5 key metrics immediately if you aren’t already:

1. Annual Revenue per Billable Consultant

Annual Revenue per Billable Consultant is a measure of a business’s total revenue divided by the number of billable consultants they employ. Understanding how much revenue each consultant is producing is a key indicator of financial success as well as consultant productivity, but it must be assessed in relation to labor costs. Revenue per billable consultant should ideally equal one- to two-times the labor costs of employing each consultant. Organizations with high annual revenue per billable consultant tend to do well because higher rates indicate better consultant productivity with respect to larger projects, more revenue in backlog, as well as more on-time and on-budget completions.

Tracking consultant productivity is key to improving customer success because you will have greater insight into when and how you should better utilize your consultants in order to improve their productivity and speed up project timelines and delivery.

2. Annual Revenue per Employee

Another core metric, Annual Revenue per Employee, is measured by dividing total revenue by the total number of both billable and non-billable employees. Similar to annual revenue per billable consultant, high annual revenue per employee is strongly correlated with profitability and efficiency. By measuring how much revenue each employee brings in relative to how much they cost, you can accurately determine the financial health of an organization. While not everyone on staff can provide billable services, it is important to be aware of the risks of too many overhead costs in relation to revenue per employee.

This metric can also be important for professional services organizations hoping to optimize business processes because business leaders can see departments where they may be spending too much money on employees, and can better re-allocate budgets to hire employees in areas that will make the business more successful. A successful business is one that has the right number of employees in each department in order to successfully manage client expectations and provide the support necessary to maintain loyal customers for life.

3. Billable Utilization

Employee utilization is defined by SPI Research on a 2,000 hour per year basis, and is calculated by dividing the total billable hours by 2,000. Utilization is central to accurately determining organizational profitability, as well as a key signal to expand or contract the workforce. By tracking work hours for billable employees, an organization can get a better picture of workforce productivity.

Your utilization rate tells you how much of your employees’ available time is spent on billable work. If this rate is too high, you likely need to add more resources. Too low and it means that you’re not bringing in enough work.

Tracking this metric can help you improve customer success because overworked employees are often tired, unhappy employees, and may even become so rundown that they are unable to perform to the best of their ability. On the other hand, underworked employees may become bored or uninterested in their work which can also affect the quality of the work they deliver. Both of these circumstances can be damaging to your organization’s reputation if the work your employees are performing does not measure up to customer expectations.

4. Project Overrun

Project overrun is the percentage above budgeted cost versus the actual cost of a project. This KPI is important because anytime a project goes over budget in either time or cost; it cuts directly into profitability. Whether a project goes over in either budget or allotted person-hours, it can limit future work and in many cases reveal internal efficiency or management issues, which also negatively impact bottom-line results. Project overruns are also detrimental to client satisfaction and even incoming sales opportunities.

By tracking project overrun, you can identify which projects are consistently going over budget, and identify ways to improve internal efficiency in order to manage projects better and stay on schedule. This will greatly improve your number of projects delivered on time, on budget, and to your customers satisfaction.

5. Profit Margin

Profit margin is the percentage of revenue which remains after paying for the direct costs of completing a project. Keeping profit margins high is essential as it ultimately drives overall revenue. Poor financial performance can often be directly correlated to low profit margins, as organizations are no longer able to invest in future growth activities.

An organization that has revenue to invest in the future growth of the company is one that can remain innovative, continuously enhance and improve their product or service, and foster long-term relationships with their customers. Tracking profit margin is therefore crucial to the ongoing success of a professional services organization.

4 Client Retention Strategies for Professional Service Firms

4 Client Retention Strategies for Professional Service Firms

Service-based clients can differ wildly from purchase-based customers — especially when you want to build lasting relationships with them to create repeat business. That’s why client retention can be so different from customer retention.

Here, we’ve compiled four expert tips for how to retain clients that we believe are specifically helpful to service-based businesses.

1. Highlight the Human Component

While customer-based businesses often focus on selling the value or quality of a product, client-based service businesses can promote themselves as people who provide professional services with top-quality expertise, experience, or connections. The relationships between your organization and its clients helps ensure they’re happy enough to keep using your services.

As Joey Coleman, author of the book Never Lose a Customer Again, likes to say: “The fact is, whether you are B2B or B2C, the core of the conversation is that your business is H2H — human to human.”

Positioning your organization as humans delivering premium services to other humans can quickly change your clients’ perceptions of who it is they’re doing business with in the first place. This can give you an advantage that keeps clients invested in your business relationship beyond numbers and deliverables.

2. Focus on Clients Individually

The second “human” in the human-to-human strategy is your client, but typical customer retention metrics may leave your clients feeling like just another number. A capable professional services automation (PSA) system can help your organization focus on the client’s needs from front end sales to back end office management. Besides using powerful tools to keep clients at the center of your business, Mark Klein of Loyalty Builders Inc. explains client loyalty with a macro vs. micro concept. Rather than focusing on customer retention — a high-level or macro idea that looks at your entire client base as a whole — loyalty is a micro metric that highlights the value of each client individually.

Klein’s company evaluates every customer with a risk score, which focuses on the customer’s likelihood of making a purchase within the next 12 months. Your metrics may be based on your client’s likelihood of using your services again within a certain period of time. These measurements allow Klein’s company to incentivize customers, rewarding customers with higher loyalty, and making offers specific to each customer’s preexisting buying behaviors. Viewing each of your customers as individual assets will allow you to market to each of them in a way that maximizes the relationship — making everyone a winner.

3. Ask Tough Questions About Client Relationships

It can be easy to evaluate client relationships in terms of the rapport between contacts, but Mike Schultz, Co-President of global sales training company RAIN Group, recommends looking at the actual business value your company provides for each client. He suggests organizations ask a series of tough questions about their clients, including whether the client views you as a partner, and what your client would say if a rival service suggested your client replace you.

If you find the answers to these questions show that you’re an essential partner, you’re in a good position to retain clients long term. If the answers aren’t what you had hoped, you now have goals for where you want the client relationship to be. That may include developing the relationship to the point that they would never consider replacing you with another service company.

4. Keep Your ‘Why’ Close

An intuitive way to further develop the connection between your organization and its clients is to keep your company’s “why” at the forefront of your business. John L. Evans, Jr., Executive Director of Knowledge Labs Professional Development, explains that an individual’s “why” may be what leads to “purpose beyond self,” but that for an organization, the “why” leads each employee to “create extraordinary moments for clients” — something clients will see when it’s apparent your employees aren’t just going through the motions.

  1. If your organization has a mission statement or even an unspoken but deeply held vision, make sure employees know what values should drive their service delivery for your clients.
  2. If your organization doesn’t have a compelling “why,” get started on one by evaluating what your organization has set out to accomplish.
  3. If your employees don’t know why they’re fulfilling your service orders, your clients may not know why either.

Conclusion

Retaining clients for a service-based business may require a different strategy than retaining a purchase-based customer, but the end goal is the same: keep your clients coming back for more.

Klient Launches Innovations for Customer Success for Professional Services Automation (PSA)

Klient Launches Innovations for Customer Success for Professional Services Automation (PSA)

Klient Software, a leading provider of professional services automation software that is easy to use and deploy and built 100% native on the Salesforce Platform, today announced new features for professional services teams and organizations focused on driving project and customer success.

“In today’s services economy, closing the deal is only the start of the customer journey and building successful customer advocates for sustained company growth,” said David Vanheukelom, CEO and Founder of Klient Software. “Customer success is rapidly emerging as a strategic differentiator and growth engine for both service and product based companies.”

The following new features empower services organizations with the right tools and insights to drive successful project outcomes for customers.

Multi-Channel Communication

Communicating and collaborating with clients across the lifecycle of a project is critical to ensuring a successful customer outcome. Now with the latest release, Klient offers the industry’s most robust multi-channel and customer centric PSA available today.

Service organizations can now compose emails directly from within a project from anywhere to anyone by way of a simple email address, where all replies and threaded communication are tracked and stored against the project. Now services organizations can see at a glance a complete timeline of customer interaction, building upon the project timeline of all activity.

Additionally, we have enhanced the project status report to enable a one-button emailing of the status report as an attachment to any user, with configurable email templates. This builds upon the previous release of giving anyone with a URL link access to the status report for real-time project insight.

Advanced Resource Planning & Availability

No longer is it sufficient for services organizations to simply view what resources are scheduled on what projects. Historically, PSA tools offered limited insight into what the real capacity and availability of resources were, including the true big-picture of what is happening across the organization with other customer projects and commitments.

Now with the latest release of Klient Professional Services Automation (PSA), Klient PSA offers project and resource managers advanced insight into the availability and suitableness of resources for project staffing for customer success.

Resource Managers can see at a glance the availability of resources matching the needs required, but additionally can see the net-availability of available resources taking into consideration commitments of projects and placeholders on other projects, including inflight or pipeline projects.

Additional filtering capability allows resource managers to further refine availability and net availability including what project and assignment statuses should be taken into consideration.

Team Task Planner

No longer is a Gantt chart sufficient to managing and planning task deliverables and deadlines across many resources and projects. Services teams such as agencies often plan and assign tasks to the hour and require visibility into who is working on what at anytime across many customers.

In addition to the personal My Work page that displays an individual’s tasks in Kanban, Due Date, or Calendar view, the Task Planner offers a visual and configurable at-a-glance view by Day, Week, or Month of what everyone is working on, color coded by project for easy visualization.

Here users can drag-and-drop tasks between resources and assign tasks from the side panel of unassigned tasks, all while viewing at a glance resource availability and capacity.

The enhanced Task Planner offers unmatched planning capability to ensure task and resources are efficient staffed to deliverable on customer commitments.

About Klient Software

Klient provides next generation professional services automation that is easy to use and deploy and built 100% native on the Salesforce Platform. Klient helps companies transform service delivery and customer success with our intuitive and modern solution professional services teams and organizations, providing a single application to manage the performance & profitability of every project, delivering visibility across the entire business.

Here’s 5 Strategies to Impress your New Customer Using PSA tools

Here’s 5 Strategies to Impress your New Customer Using PSA tools

Does your Company love to celebrate new clients?

Of course, any sales win is worth a celebration! But in the world of professional services, signing the contract is only the first step.

The goal in services is always to gain customers who purchase your services again and again. That’s why the experience you provide is so critical. Wow them from the start and they’ll be much more likely to buy again later and recommend you to others.

Basic Questions for After the Sale

When you sign up a new client or customer, there are a series of questions you’ll need to answer with them:

  1. What—exactly—is supposed to happen?
  2. Who’s supposed to do what?
  3. When are they supposed to be where?
  4. Is everyone on the same page?

Once these items are set, you have the foundation for a smooth onboarding process.

Keep Changes to a Minimum

Beware the biggest disruption to the customer experience: change. Changing times, changing schedules, changing staff. There are also changes to flights, hotel rooms, teaching modules, and a hundred other details. All these are major causes of stress—both for your clients and for your staff. Often, managing a client onboarding process can be quite a stressful time for a business leader in itself. However, a good onboarding process will help you minimize these frustrating changes. But after the Sale, what should happen next?

Here are 5 strategies you can use to impress new customers, without stressing out your employees in the process:

1. Confirm All Details

The first thing is to ensure everyone knows what’s supposed to happen, on what dates, and at what locations. It sounds simple, but we’ve all had situations where we’ve shown up at the wrong time because we neglected this step. That’s never a good feeling. You might even assign one person from your staff to be responsible for working out schedules with the client. Once everything is set, have that person send the client an email and calendar invitations with confirmations of all appointments, dates, and times.

If you’re delivering your service remotely, don’t forget to include any private webinar links or shared documents as soon as you can.

2. Reconfirm the Appointment

As you get close to the date of the service, reconfirm the dates and times with the client, just to make sure nothing’s changed. This will help prevent last-minute changes, and it makes your organization look professional.

Confirming details can be the job of the sales team, the service delivery team, or an administrative staffer.

3. Deliver a Consistent Experience

New clients will interact with multiple members of your team as they receive the service they purchased from you.

Every time they talk with someone from your organization, they should get the same, consistent, positive experience.

4. Be Transparent Internally and Externally

The best way to help employees deliver a great experience is to ensure everyone is working from the same information. Your service delivery team will be able to provide better services if they can see what sales reps are doing in their CRM system.

Giving everyone access to the same data means everyone can be transparent with clients and potential customers. And that’s true no matter who takes the call or receives the email.

5. Make Use of Good Technology

Finally, using Professional Services Automation software (PSA software) will enable all your employees to see “the whole picture” for each client and prospect in your system. Sales staff will be able to see who’s going to deliver the service and when. Your service delivery teams will be able to review all notes from the sales process with a new client.

Your administrative team will be able to keep track of it all!

The Payoff

Having a consistent process you follow with new clients makes everyone’s job easier, and it results in a better, more consistent experience for the customer.

As we stated in the introduction, the goal is always to create repeat buyers, not just one-time buyers. Wowing customers right from the start is a great way to help make that happen.