At Client Savvy, one of our core values is to be community makers. Specifically, our goal is to build communities of individuals around the focus of client experience (CX). Why do we do this? To help our clients differentiate their firms, increase growth and profitability, and retain key talent. Our values and goals drive our investment in and commitment to hosting CXps each year.
Since 2015, CXps has doubled in size each year. As one of Client Savvy’s owners, it is exciting to see this growth. We work hard to bring together a quality program each year. What you’ll read in these stories is the true reason CXps continues to grow. People come for the programming and come back for the community (and hopefully the programming too). Here are just a few stories I heard from attendees this year.
Return on Investment of CX
“We’ve been through a tough time as a company – our market was in severe contraction,” says a leader from a large industry consulting agency. “As we tightened the corporate belt, we cut most of our corporate programs. Our client engagement program was on that list too.”
He and I had just sat through a mind-stretching session where the presenter walked us through both how to scale a client experience (CX) program and how to quantify its tangible business value. We’d just heard how the average CX program in a professional services firm returned a 224% ROI over 14 months – and that was just counting the directly measured impact to net profit.
In a moment of recognition, he said, “Clearly we missed the mark here. While our clients were dealing with extraordinary pain as their world contracted, we pulled back, instead of leaning in. We ended up completely losing a top-5 client, worth hundreds of millions in revenue to us. We knew they were not satisfied. We did continue asking for feedback every year, but we didn’t do anything with the information. We didn’t have a plan or a framework to take action and turn the relationship around.”
As we walked to the evening networking mixer, chatting about what we learned, he seemed renewed in his enthusiasm to create change, and said he felt equipped with practical tools to make that happen.
A Community of Resources
Joe said his firm is in the early stages of launching their CX program. He was excited about being at the conference and learning everything he could about the pitfalls and opportunities within a CX program. He especially wanted to meet other people further down the road, who could offer lessons learned and some suggestions for what they would have done differently.
About halfway through the event I checked in and asked how things were going. He said he was enjoying himself immensely – and not only because it was nice to get out of the office. He was surprised by how wonderful the people were, and how easy it was to find plans for dinner or a seat at lunch. It didn’t feel like “networking” – it felt like friendship.
That comment was great to hear but what he said next was even more powerful. He told me he knew his retirement was not that far off. As his career was winding down, he didn’t want to lose his enthusiasm, but he wanted to be realistic. He understood starting an initiative like a CX program is no small feat. He pointed out, however, that even if it isn’t “perfectly launched” (whatever that means!) by the time he moves on, he was glad to know there was a community of people and a wealth of resources that would be waiting for whomever took on this responsibility.
Gathering with like-minded people
An attendee who had been to CXps in previous years said, “there’s a different kind of energy this year.” Yes, there were more attendees than ever before, but she said it wasn’t just the number of people. There was something “different” in the air. Something that felt more like a home, a community in which to explore, learn new things, share experiences. She was surprised to see how many firms sent multiple attendees.
She mentioned speaking to a first timer who had been trying to attend the last couple of years. That person expressed how glad she was to finally have all the pieces fall into place so that she could attend. They agreed on how valuable the sessions were and how important it was to their success to meet like-minded people, especially people who were so willing to be open and share their ideas and lessons learned.
Business Impacts of Poor CX
A member of the marketing team for one of the construction companies in attendance said, “One of the main concerns and issues that are impacting our business is high turnover among our project managers (PMs).”
When I asked why this was happening, he said it was caused by internal conflict and the stress to complete jobs at a certain margin. His firm had gone down the path of too often bidding jobs low and when they won, the PMs had to “change order the client to death” to make the job profitable. As you would expect, this makes the client (not to mention the PM’s) very unhappy and there has been some blowback because of it.
After attending sessions and engaging with others in the community, he is excited to go back and implement a full client experience (CX) program. He’s convinced that will not only impact the experience for their clients, it will keep the PMs from turning over at such a high rate (22%). “This would be huge,” he said. “Every time we lose a PM, it has a financial impact on the firm of $85,000 and typically makes projects lag behind by months.”
Sharing their “how to” strategies
Janet said she came to CXps to “get everything I need to convince my company that we need a client experience initiative.” She said the speakers, especially those from firms actively implementing CX initiatives were terrific and that is was so helpful to hear exactly how different companies are building CX-focused practices in their businesses.
Janet also said that when she came to CXps, she wrongfully assumed that, like so many conferences, the people there would keep their “how” a secret. It’s easy to think of Client Experience as something that is inherently good, and that people should practice, but the how is much more mysterious. Everyone at the conference was so forthcoming with the way they make CX work for them. From CX playbooks, to feedback plans, and even crash courses and “how-to” workshops on creating a CX plan, everybody couldn’t wait to bounce ideas off each other. Her concluding thought? “I can’t wait to go home and show my coworkers what I’ve learned.”
Go to the “source of change”
Over lunch I had the pleasure of speaking with a representative of one client who had been in the United States for only the past 4 years. He worked in the AEC industry for a long time and had an educational background in engineering that spanned both his home country and a university here in the States. In my conversations with him, I asked “what kinds of differences did you see in the academics given the technical nature of your focus?” “None really,” he said, “but most of the regulations are coming from the United States so that’s what drove me to come here.” I added, “to come to the source?” “Yes,” he said, “that’s correct.” I found that interesting. Now here he was at the CXps, a conference of early adopters, citing the same exact strategy he used in his personal growth. Seeking the source of change, to know sooner, to adjust faster, to stand out. To differentiate.
One last story
Bob serves in a quality assurance role in his engineering firm. His job is to make sure that his firm meets the expectations of their clients, every day. As we relaxed at the ballpark during a networking event, he shared that he was shocked by how willing the individuals at CXps were to share their stories – successful and otherwise. Being part of a real community means you hear all the news – the good, and even the bad. He was impressed that CXps community members were supporting each other, giving tips, and sometimes tipping a drink to a battle they didn’t quite win. It dawned on him then: the answers aren’t the important part, it’s the journey that makes a Client Experience.
I invite you to become part of our Client Experience community. Follow us on LinkedIn. You’ll be among the first to hear about CX solutions, upcoming CX-focused webinars, opportunities to participate in a CX Mastermind Peer Group near you, and you’ll be right there to hear when registration opens for CXps 2019!