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They’re both CX.

I recently joined Client Savvy, the leader in providing client experience management solutions and data-driven client feedback to professional services firms to help them drive revenue, referrals, and repeat business.

I’ve studied, written about, and implemented customer satisfaction (CSAT) and customer experience (CX) programs for more than 20 years prior to joining Client Savvy. I received VOC certification from Allegiance, now MaritzCX, and followed the growth and success of Satmetrix, Medallia, and Qualtrics. 

The Key Difference Between Customer and Client Experience

The difference between customer experience and client experience is subtle, yet significant. It’s similar to the difference between a customer and a client. Customers are involved in transactional purchases. Think about what you buy at the grocery store, a restaurant, or a cell phone retailer. 

Clients are involved in on-going relationships where they are buying more expensive products and services over a period of time. Think software purchased to run a business. Or, a contractor building a series of buildings over ten years.

Most customer experience tools only measure CX following the completion of a transaction. While this is an effective method for getting feedback when someone is buying a product or a meal — completing a transaction, it’s not as effective when someone is buying a solution or implementing a long-term project.

That’s why Client Savvy focuses on helping professional services firms like architects, engineers, contractors, accountants, lawyers, doctors, and IT solutions providers. These companies strive to build long-term relationships with their clients. Engagements typically take months. Good relationships can last decades. 

Rather than checking-in or sending an NPS survey at the conclusion of a project, professional services firms need to check-in with their clients several times over the course of a project or engagement.

Best Practices for Client Feedback

We find it helpful to check-in several times, with stakeholders and participants, over the course of a project using our client feedback tool. The following cadence works for a number of firms: 1) project kick-off; 2) first deliverable; 3) 60% progress; 4) 90% progress; and, 5) project close-out/pre-invoice. The cadence varies based on the type of project or client relationship. There are multiple opportunities to learn if you are meeting your clients’ expectations.

Keep the feedback survey simple. Focus on expectations versus satisfaction. Learn whether or not you are meeting the expectations you are created — are you doing what you said you would do when you said you would do it? Close the loop on any outstanding issues raised and thank everyone for their feedback every time. 

A final thought. Customer experience and client experience are similar in that they are only effective over the long-term if there is c-level buy-in to the importance and process of the program. 

I’m always disappointed when a salesperson, CSR, or consultant tells me to expect a survey, then ask me to give them a certain score so they’ll receive recognition or a bonus.

Neither they nor their managers understand the true benefit or value the importance of clients sharing what they really think about their experience. Open and honest feedback is the only way you know how you’re really doing.

Are you ready to learn how your clients feel about your firm?