6 Top Questions Answered: An Important Client Experience Conversation for 2021

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In a recent Sikich Live, we spoke with Miles Sims, Director, about organizations elevating their client experience. Did you know 74% of consumers are at least somewhat likely to buy based on experience alone? (Forbes/Arm Treasure Data) Here at Sikich we are seeing a trend of customers prioritizing positive experiences above all else. With the right tools, you can understand both your customers and their experiences throughout their entire journey so you can be best prepared to handle any situation before it turns into a bad experience. Let’s take a look at some highlights from the Q&A session with Miles.

Q&A: SIX QUESTIONS TO HELP IMPROVE YOUR CLIENT EXPERIENCE

Question #1: It’s being reported that $1.6T is lost every year in the U.S. because of poor customer service (AccentureStrategy) and $98B/year is left on the table by companies who fail to provide “simple” experiences to their consumers (Siegel+Gale).What’s your take on this and how often is client experience coming up in conversation with the clients and prospects that you are working with?

This is all about two things; speed and trust. When you’re engaging with a company and dealing with support, you want information quickly and that you can trust that information. You want to be able to believe that the information being provided to you, whether it’s from a call center agent or an AI bot. It’s important to know that you’re getting served that information correctly and it’s valuable to you. This is something that we’re seeing all the time.

As recent as just a few minutes before I joined our session, we were having a conversation with a client and walking through client experience for a group of doctors across three or four different systems. And at the end of the day the client isn’t worried about whether there’s Salesforce on the back end, right? They’re there to accomplish their goals to make sure that the service provided is coherent and cohesive, and that it’s something that works correctly. So, the technology really takes a back seat and it is something that is top of mind all the time with our clients.

Question #2: What does both digital transformation and marketing automation mean to organizations today in correlation with client experience?

Transformation and automation are definitely buzz words right now. Marketing automation is a software platform that helps you automate your marketing and sales engagement to generate more leads, close more deals, and accurately measure marketing success. Digital Transformation is the adoption of digital technology to transform services or businesses, through replacing non-digital or manual processes with digital processes or replacing older digital technology with newer digital technology

Our goal when we are working with clients looking at a transformation is about enabling the audience to do those things. Many times you are taking someone with many manual pain points and freeing them up to provide a better experience directly to their customers. It goes from within the organization out to the customers. Beyond the nuts and bolts of putting a new system in place, or perhaps better systems easier to use – it’s really about how to enable our clients to serve their clients better and free up time of things they are doing manually.

On the client side, we do the same thing. We make it easier to get into the systems. From a marketing automation standpoint it’s really the same experience just prior to that company becoming a client. They want information quickly. We have intelligence built-in so they don’t get stranded or left with the wrong information.

Question #3: What is one of the most used marketing automation tools that you are helping organizations use today and what benefits are organizations getting from it?

One thing in our Salesforce world that we use is Pardot. It’s a B-to-B email-based marketing tool. It allows our clients to deliver that targeted messaging. We make sure you are meeting the customer where they are at in the buying process. We make sure that you are nurturing them along and providing the right information in an efficient way.

Of course, we also want to make sure that we are enabling within the organization to review what is happening. Most importantly, you want to have the ability to go back and measure success. Measure what happened, adjust what you are doing and then see success in your business. It’s helps your business by helping the client experience. They want to engage with you, generate business but then go tell other people. Word of mouth is still a big thing. We are helping a number of organizations implement Pardot. It is a powerful marketing automation to help marketing and sales teams find and nurture the best leads, close more deals, and maximize ROI. There are several ways it is benefiting them:

  • Time is money right? Pardot has a relatively simple setup to quickly enable powerful email marketing with personalization and automation features.
  • Many organizations utilize the in-depth prospect tracking capabilities in Pardot. What’s great is that it can help you track website visitors before they convert on any of your forms.
  • Another key piece for marketing is the ability to design lead nurturing tracks for all stages of the pipeline. Pardot offers several templates for emails, landing pages and forms that organizations customize with their own content.
  • We all have the same amount of time in the day and have to make choices how we spend it. This is really important when it comes to where you choose to focus your marketing and sales efforts. Efficiency is key. Pardot enables organizations to use lead grading and lead scoring. Leading grading is about leads that are most interesting to you. Lead scoring is about the leads who are most interested in your products.
  • ROI is always important. Pardot hasn’t left this out either. Through detailed analysis, you can distinguish campaigns that are working best and which are not performing well to optimize marketing efforts. I do want to note that this aspect is typically seen with more advanced users and organizations that have a team member skilled in data management. There are some solution requirements that must be met as well – all the marketing attribution has to be properly filled out and Pardot has to be linked to Salesforce using Opportunities.

Question #4: According to IDC, $641B is expected to be spent on Customer experience technologies in 2022, over $130B more than in 2019 (IDC). Do you agree with this focus? What solutions are you implementing with clients today to focus on the client experience they are providing?

I 100% agree this is where a lot of the growth is happening with a platform like Salesforce that has gained market maturity. We are starting to see a lot of UI pieces and experience pieces come into play. Recently Salesforce rebranded Community Cloud, their online community platform, as Experience Cloud. They are super focused on this too. What that does is that it allows us to engage with a couple primary audiences with our clients and their customers, as well as employees. When you look at places like LinkedIn and at recruiters, they are talking about the employee experience with onboarding and the culture of the organization. That cascades in how they interact with customers.

From a platform perspective, Experience Cloud is something our team spends a lot of time on. Leveraging that not just as a stand-alone tool but also usually there is a Pardot-like tool, a marketing automation tool, and even a CMS tool that we are working with at our clients. Typically, we are working with 3 or 4 systems and platforms that are clients are on, some legacy and some new. It is driving that customer experience. Branding, marketing, and messaging now have an expectation that those are consistent, targeted and well defined. Our clients expect us to help them build those out. Experience Cloud, formerly known as Community Cloud, is our primary tool but there are a lot of things we are interfacing with on a day-to-day basis to make sure we can help deliver that experience.

Question #5: What are some ways that you see organizations using Experience Cloud to focus on delivering that 5-star client experience?

It has become standard to have an online community or some sort of portal presence for customers and partners. It’s really what do you do beyond giving someone an account to log in and create a case or request support. We need to meet them where they are at. We need to layer in digital engagement, things like SMS text messaging and mobile friendly versions of all the same functionality you have on a desktop or a laptop.

It’s also important to really go across the different channels to meet the customers needs where they are at. Self service is a big part of that. Enabling customers to easily and quickly find information, be it self service on the presales or marketing side or post sales and service side. I think we all expect in our daily lives to get to that information on our own with out interfacing with someone.

We are also starting to see the adoptions of AI (artificial intelligence) bots, getting that pop up on the bottom right corner to chat. If that experience is positive, it makes a difference and builds trust. Beyond that within Salesforce specifically, we are seeing a move to more tailored user experiences from an interface standpoint. A lot of the 1.0 or 2.0 versions of many of the platforms we have all worked with you would hear it wasn’t flexible enough to meet our need. That has gone by the wayside where we have things that are scalable like the lightening design system. You can take the user interface (buttons, navigation, page layout, etc.) and really tailor to what your specific customer need is. You can also layer on those AI pieces and self-service for a holistic tool set that will deliver a 5-star experience.

Question #6: Client Experience is critical today. According to PWC, 32% of customers stop doing business with a brand they love after only one bad experience. So it’s very important to get it right. For anyone that isn’t confident in the experience they are providing today, what action step do you recommend they take?

One of the big things here that is a common struggle, is to make sure you’re not confusing your business KPIs. What are the things you measure to make sure your business is healthy? Revenue, growth, adoption of a product, all those different things. Those aren’t necessarily what the customer who’s coming to get support from you or looking for, right? They’re not worried about how many widgets you sold in the last quarter. Their widget isn’t working correctly and they want your help to fix it. So, you need to make sure the lens that you’re looking at these interactions through is the right lens.

It’s a very common mistake to look at a self-service support portal and apply a layer of your internal KPIs, your internal business metrics to that, and then say, “Hey, it’s not working.” When really you should be looking at it from the view of, “Okay, how does this serve our customers? How does this really meet that need for them? And then how does it translate to our bottom line?”

The other piece to this is flexibility. In many projects we make assumptions when we’re rolling out a new design, new look and feel, but it’s important to do some testing. Talk to customers and get as much input as possible. The systems today, the Salesforce ecosystem specifically, has the strength to allow for the flexibility of coming back and making changes to things that aren’t working, or maybe aren’t working as well as you’d like them to.

To me, this isn’t your one-and-done, by any means, right? These are all living, breathing efforts from your marketing team, from your customer support team, from your sales team and being able to learn from the data you’re gathering or what you’re hearing directly from your customers, and then apply that to updated experiences, new experiences, and to continue down that path. That’s really what educates you and helps get you the end result of a good user experience. You don’t have that one bad experience.

Conclusion

I think we can all relate to the essence and importance of client experience. You buy something online or go somewhere in person and if it’s not great, the likelihood of you re-engaging with that business, be it as a consumer or as a business user, is really low. It’s a lot harder to earn back that trust and get business again if you do have that bad experience. Anything that we can do to prevent that, or at least show that we’re empathetic towards that is key. And if they do have a bad experience then we have the tools in place to reach out, figure out what happened and improve from there.

Client experience is a continuing conversation. Register now to join two of our NetSuite + Salesforce experts on April 13th  for 3 WAYS NETSUITE + SALESFORCE WORK TOGETHER FOR A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE IN PROFESSIONAL SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS. Can’t attend the virtual event? Contact us with questions. We are here to help!

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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