An outstanding client experience separates the firms that are “winging” their business, to the firms that are strategically delivering quality results. The seven tips below will outline how to provide a burst of value to every client interaction.
1) The 50/50 Rule
In software consulting, of course the biggest emphasis is placed on the product or service that the client has requested. You want your consultants to always have in mind the user interfaces, web-hooks, and the plethora of protocols you’ll have to put into place to engineer a great end-product. However, the 50/50 rule comes into place to improve retention rate and develop a stronger relationship between client and firm.
The 50/50 rule places an equal part of value on the actual product delivered and the client experience.
The client experience is equally valuable to the actual product they recieve. This experience is enhanced from the following factors:
- Frequency and effectiveness of communication
- Knowledge held by the consultants and engineers
- Authenticity of consultants
In the social interactions of software consulting, a nice smile, humor and great communication goes a long way.
2) Replicate Good Processes
As we focus on building a valuable delivery strategy, we must always keep in mind the tools we use and how we can encourage reusability from previous client projects. Every single client interaction is an opportunity to improve internal processes.
To ensure that a project is on-track, develop a roadmap, also referred to as a project plan, and outline the implementation tools you will be leveraging. Nothing is more meaningful or valuable than explaining to a client that a tool you recommend could legitmately save them hundreds of thousands of dollars. That sort of information gives the consulting firm more legitimacy and allows you to leverage yourself as a trusted organization. The client will think
“They care more about us than hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
3) Project Organization is Key
We must develop great project organization documents for every single client proposal. This essentially outlines an organizational chart of internal resources, client-employed resources, and offshored resources.
To develop a proper organizational structure, ensure that there is solid communication between the client and firm. Generally, you will contact the project manager or team lead to find out what resources they have available. This isn’t a one-off conversation mind you.
If a client has a very large vision for a product they need implemented, it will be up to your team not only to reduce the size to a minimum viable product, but to also make sure all of the resources are accounted for. In order to successfully deliver the project, the expectation of your team’s responsibilities must align with the expectations of the client’s.
4) Internal Meeting Schedules
It is paramount to hold internal launch meetings to assimilate the delivery team and improve correspondence. An example meeting structure might look like this.
- Gather relevant team resources for daily and weekly standup meetings
- Brief resources on delivery strategy
- Answer questions
- Secure commitments
- Encourage accountability
The goal of every single meeting related to a specific client project is create a credible impact. This means that your internal and external visions are aligned, therefore creating a reliable and consistent flow between client and firm.
5) Every consultant is a client relationship manager
To develop a strengthened relationship between engineering teams and firms, we must keep in mind that every single meeting is to nurture and grow the client relationship. We call this a Partner Oriented Relationship. By improving the comfortability and easing any tension between firm and clients, this cultivates an extremely creative, friendly, and most of all, fun environment to be a part of. This will lead to better results for a client and, playing into the 50/50 rule, provides an incredible client experience.
Great client relationships also allow user error to be excused and moved past. Nobody is perfect, and both firm’s resources and client’s resources will occasionally err. When this happens, it is best to have strong communication, and nothing can make this unpleasant experience than knowing this is not the norm, and that you can both laugh about it in the future.
(Just don’t drop database tables in production environments)
6) Maintain relationships over time
Building off the necessity of important client relationships, it is equally (if not more) valuable to continue to maintain these relationships. Consultants must display consistent professionalism in day to day interactions. Some responsibilities that clients must abide are as follows:
- Ensure that clients feel ease and trust in our delivery approach
- Apply good judgement to challenging situations
- Keep clients updated at suitable intervals
- Ensure any questions or concerns are handled promptly
7) Approach issues with maturity
The final tip on how to deliver an incredible client experience is to ensure that you approach every single problem professionally and patiently. No drama or glamour. No bells and whistles. Incorporate a sense of pragmatism when tackling difficult issues that are raised by clients.
Table of Issue Types
|Internal||Resolve with only internal communications and incident management strategies||Raise to management. If not resolvable internally, inform client of issue if it impedes delivery schedule. Explain resolution strategy|
|External||Resolve during daily or weekly meetings with clients. Follow up on unresolved issues||Inform client of issue and provide resources as needed. Assist in developing resolution strategy if possible|
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