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What were your biggest client experience surprises in 2020?

As we wrap up a very unusual year, we reached out to client experience professionals to ask what they have been surprised about with regards to CX over the past 12 months and what they see on the horizon in 2021.

Here’s what we learned:

2020 Client Experience Surprises

More Personal Connection

  • We need personal connection more than we thought we did.
  • Our clients don’t need us face-to-face as much as we thought they did – though we miss the face-to-face interaction.
  • Zoom has resulted in more human, agile, and deeper relationships. We get to meet members of the family and we’re very understanding when someone on a call has to go help their child or answer the doorbell.
  • These interactions have people feeling more personally connected with clients and colleagues.
  • Relationships are more personal and less septic.
  • It’s OK to be human and imperfect, we’re all more tolerant and understanding.
  • More connection has resulting in more trusted relationships.

Accelerated Adoption

  • We’ve seen a dramatic increase in interest in and uptake of electronic surveys. The pandemic has accelerated acceptance of the inevitable.
  • The digital experience transformation we’ve all been stalling on rapidly became super critical and has accelerated.

Different Expectations

  • Surprised to see in some feedback from clients, “this isn’t your problem, but can you fix it for us?” This has provided some great opportunities to show our commitment to helping clients be successful or to just be there for them and help them solve problems.
  • COVID has forced people to be purposeful with their client relationships. This focus is on making team members more conscious about what they can do to ensure we are meeting client expectations.
  • Virtually everything we used to do in-person, we are now managing remotely. This forces us to be more diligent about our productivity considering the blurred lines between personal and business-life in the same physical space.
  • There was a misconception about remote engagement. The results are positive.
  • On the whole, we’ve seen great appreciation for the firm’s efforts for creating and implementing virtual team building events.
    • Marketing teams have budgets they can’t use at conferences have found clever ways to stay in touch.
    • One firm sent electrical engineers options – choose your own adventure team building activity – one group pursued mozzarella building activity and had rave reviews. These are especially important in places like Boston.

2021 Client Experience Predictions

  • Digital transformation/experience will further separate 2021’s winners from the laggards. Companies using data and technology will separate from their competitors more rapidly.
  • Employee onboarding will see a substantial re-invention (again) as we apply the lessons from 2020’s work-from-home fiasco. The process will be more seamless for the company and the new employee. More online training, onboarding, and identity and access management will be in place so new hires can get up and running more quickly.
  • Formal, regular, data-driven client feedback will take center stage as we are all working to find connections and start conversations with less facetime.
  • Companies will use technology to provide improved client experiences and processes remotely (i.e. e-signatures for contracts and onboarding).
  • Given what we learned in 2020, clients will have greater expectations about the ability of professional services firms to meet their needs but will also be open to more creative and less established ways of accomplishing their goals and objectives.

What surprised you in 2020 and what do you look forward to in 2021?

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