“A customer who has a good experience will tell 4-6 people; on the other hand, a customer who’s had a bad experience will tell between 9-15 people on average.” - APHER Consulting.
Improving a customer's experience (CX) isn’t just an initiative to make happier customers; it's a business imperative that drives growth and generates revenue. Within the professional service industry, firms offer services that provide their clients with expert knowledge and skills. These services range from consulting and advisory services to legal and accounting services. The quality of services plays a crucial role in the success of their CX. But it's important to note that a significant part of the service quality is determined by the clients' experience. To achieve high-quality service delivery, firms need a combination of highly skilled and knowledgeable employees and a process that provides a superior CX that meets or exceeds expectations. With the unlimited potential of innovation, firms that leverage its abilities and interject them into their CX will outperform their rivals. Investing in CX innovation doesn’t just protect a firm’s competitive edge but prepares them for the future.
The ultimate goal of a CX is to create a memorable and positive interaction that keeps the client engaged and satisfied. Professional service firms strongly focus on client relationships and ensuring it reaches a quality standard. CX innovation facilitates firms to reach that standard and keep up with emerging CX trends.
Globally, technology is one of the most rapidly growing industries, constantly accelerating how processes and tasks are completed. To remain in touch and harness the abilities offered by technology, firms must invest in CX innovation. The business initiative is vital for professional service firms that focus on client-facing services. Innovative practices have transformative abilities to shift a CX from an ordinary and monotonous service to a unique and exceptional experience that elevates a firm’s brand and reputation, ultimately fostering long-lasting client loyalty.
To accomplish this transition, a firm must identify and understand its client's evolving needs and preferences. Most clients seek experiences that are: convenient, seamless, friendly, and personalized. Providing a client-centric CX is key; how will you draw clients in and establish loyalty? After identifying motivating factors the firm, armed with a strategic mindset on innovation, will design and implement processes and technologies to improve clients' interactions with their services and brand.
Once new and innovative processes are established, one of the most important steps is to dedicate time and resources to continuous improvements. Innovation and continuous improvement are intrinsically linked; what was once deemed innovative eventually turns obsolete. It’s up to the firm to remain in touch with changing standards. CX innovation isn’t a destination, it's a journey.
The quality of a CX is a decisive driving factor for purchasing; 52% of consumers reported walking away from their purchase due to a bad experience. Firms can’t afford a negative CX with the potential for lost revenue at stake. Today's marketplace is highly customizable and instantaneous, an established standard set and reinforced by consumer behavior. Firms that don't use innovative practices in their CX are missing an integral part that their competitors are engaging in. Their benefits are transformative once implemented into a firm’s service offerings for both the clients and the firms implementing them.
A CX directly impacts how the client feels about the firm. If their CX is tedious, outdated, and confusing, they will leave the experience with a negative connotation. An updated and upgraded CX through innovation show clients that the company has prioritized identifying their needs and allocated resources to meet and exceed them. It ensures the client feels heard and valued, directly increasing client satisfaction.
Brand loyalty must be a high priority for firms, especially professional firms that rely on relations. Within the realm of professional service firms, the close interconnection between client satisfaction and brand loyalty is well-recognized. Using CX innovation results in a domino effect, it makes clients feel more prioritized and satisfied because their needs are met, and they develop a loyalty to the firm. Why go elsewhere if you’re being provided precisely what you want and in an enjoyable and easy process? Once a sense of loyalty is established, firms increase their client base due to positive WOM, resulting in an uptick in revenue. The Temkin Group found 77% of customers would refer a friend to a company if they had a great experience.
Customer churn, while a nasty occurrence, is a useful tool to identify areas of improvement, specifically in CX. Zendesk found on average, 66% of consumers ended relationships with a company solely from poor customer service. With potential revenue on the line, firms that utilize CX innovation will see a significant decrease in clients discontinuing services. Research shows retaining customers is significantly more accessible and more cost-effective than obtaining them. Obtaining a new customer costs up to five times more than retaining an existing one. Conducting market research and campaigning for new clients is costly. If firms employ innovative practices in their CX, they reduce customer churn occurrences and mitigate potential client attract costs.
Consumers prioritize innovation, and firms pride themselves on being innovative. Innovation is a massive selling point and an establishment of a competitive edge. 84% of consumers consider whether or not a firm they purchase from is innovative as a very important factor.
Clients and firms aren’t very different; they judge their self-image by their innovative nature. Firms want to be innovative because it evokes a sense of progressive thinking. They are pioneering new ideas and solutions to stay ahead of the competition and adapt to changing markets. Consumers prioritize innovation by constantly seeking new and improved experiences to fulfill their needs. The desire for innovation is often driven by a consumer culture that values the latest trends, which connects to a sense of social status or identity. If a firm has a brand image that identifies as an innovative experience for its clients, it is more likely to tap into that consumer need to be dynamic and revolutionary. Innovation is like a badge of honor, and firms that consistently utilize its powers in their CX showcase a willingness to take risks and remain updated with technological advancements.
Implementing innovation into a firm’s CX tackles common bottlenecks they face daily. Mavenlink found client expectations of accounting firms are notably increased in areas such as quality of work (51%), speed of service delivery (50%), transparency (37%), and accountability (37%). CX innovation promotes benefits that affect the firm, clients, and employees, providing a more streamlined and productive process.
In 2020, 75% of professional service firms indicated they had implemented automation solutions. Technological advancements completely shift and disrupt the standard of conducting business, rendering traditional practices obsolete. Automation is one of the business initiatives that's been quickly gaining steam in the professional service industries, and for a good reason.
Automation is a powerful tool that can be harnessed to benefit the firm, clients, and employees. Implementing AI or technological solutions to automate tasks allows employees to dedicate more time to their clients. This allows clients to receive a higher prioritization and an overall better service. Automation also improves employee morale since employees are not bogged down with tedious and draining tasks. Happier employees tend to be more productive and focused on their roles. Firms benefit from automation because it allows them to funnel human capital elsewhere and replaces mundane tasks with AI or innovations. SPI Research found companies that use professional service automation software have a better employee billable utilization rate of 70%. Using innovation like automation in a firm’s CX helps overcome industry challenges.
Innovative practices enabled firms to reach their clients' needs like never before. Utilizing innovations allows firms to input an element of personalization in their CX. Innovations like AI and machine learning help firms personalize their services and tailor CX to meet clients’ needs and preferences. By analyzing data regarding client preferences, behavior, and past interactions, firms make more data-driven decisions with the client’s priorities in mind. However, firms still instill a sense of balance in data analysis. Sustaining the protection of clients' privacy concerns and ensuring there is still a level of emotional connection. Professional service firms must maintain a sense of human connection to establish trust with their clients.
Another element personalization brings for professional service firms is differentiation. When competitors offer similar services, personalization can be the black sheep of the industry. Differentiation is a crucial element firm must explore when trying to remain competitive in their respective industry. Firms that use innovation to identify what is most important to their clients will be able to differentiate their services to attract and retain clients.
Maintaining a strong client relationship is crucial for professional service firms. Communication allows for exchanging information and feedback between the client and the firm. CX innovation enables firms to fulfill the needs and preferences of their clients more effectively by employing a platform or portal that simplifies and optimizes communication channels. Comparable to AI’s personalization ability, AI can be implemented as a chatbot feature to offer clients 24/7 access to statuses and answers. By leveraging innovative communication tools, clients gain improved access to their service providers, resulting in reduced wait times and enhanced convenience, ultimately leading to increased client satisfaction. Streamlining communication and increasing accessibility bolsters clients feeling prioritized. Effective communication is essential for professional service firms to achieve their goals and maintain a successful business.
In today’s world, one of the most precious commodities is time. Recent studies show 85% of professional service firms have discovered that client expectations are increasing. Efficiency is a critical feature clients prioritize, seeking prompt and integral services. CX innovation streamlines operations and reduces service delivery turnaround through process automation or workflow management. CX innovation decreases the frequency of human error, which can slow down processes and lead to decreased client satisfaction and weakening of trust. Professional service firms can set themselves apart in a highly competitive industry by delivering exceptionally efficient services through CX innovation.
Trust plays a critical role in any client-firm relationship, clients must be confident in the firm's ability to fulfill their demands and expectations. Infusing CX innovation helps firms provide greater transparency to their clients regarding services and performance. Innovations like data analytics and reporting provides clients with precise and real-time insights regarding the process. Transparency instills a sense of credibility for the firm and creates an open line of collaboration between the client and the firm. Clients feel more engaged and informed about the process, status, potential risks, and outcomes. As a result, transparency promotes accountability, builds trust, elevates a firm’s brand image, and strengthens client-firm relationships.
The professional service firm industry is highly reliant on clients as they are the primary source of revenue for firms. CX innovation is a top-priority business initiative, firms must allocate resources to invest in it. With stiff competition and increasing client expectations, firms that fail to do so will quickly lose their edge and be overshadowed by competitors. Innovation has tremendous impacts on firms, specifically improving their CX. When implemented, it can automate tasks, offer clients a personalized CX, and profoundly impact accessibility, efficiency, and transparency. CX innovation increases client satisfaction, promotes brand loyalty, and decreases customer turnaround. With the aid of innovation, professional service firms remain competitive.