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Service Experience Design

Why We Take a Holistic Approach to Service

on November 6 in Foundations, Service Experience Design | 0 comments

Why do we take a holistic approach to service? Why does service experience design start with a broad view? David Clarke in an Adweek article says it best: Experience isn’t just one thing. It’s comprised of sales, customer service, order entry, human resources, quality assurance, shipping, billing, collections, maintenance—a hundred parts of an enterprise. Therefore, a successful initiative dedicated to experience requires a leader with enough professional standing, acumen and political weight to drive reforms across multiple departments simultaneously. It’s an executive function. But the payoff is worth it. While Clarke–and most customer experience research and advice–is focused on large manufacturing corporations, we can translate this for B2B soloists and SMBs in services organizations by honing in on a key point: As an executive function, success in serving clients is entirely up to you as the business leader and your team (whether that team is ad hoc or includes all the C-suite positions). Your outcomes will only be as good as your collective knowledge in all areas of the business plus resources AND your ability to take perspective, generate creative ideas, operate aligned with common goals, make difficult decisions, execute on only the most important initiatives, manage your time, and create forward momentum. (Essentially, “Nothing is Created Alone.”)  This is why having a creative partner is paramount. This is why we start with asking the big questions, why we cover a lot of ground in our Creative Partnering 4-Hour Working Sessions. And why a holistic approach to service is needed, even if it seems off the beaten path.  To learn more, sign up to get our emails or join a Steps to Services Excellence call.   ...

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Gaining Client Insight

on March 28 in Service Experience Design | 0 comments

If you are a coach or a consultant–and especially if you have “productized” your solution by creating a program or are looking into doing so–you want to see success in your clients’ development and in your relationships. But sometimes, unless clients blatantly express dissatisfaction during our engagements or begin “bad appling,” we can’t really be sure what their satisfaction level is. And we know this impacts our ability to be referred. When clients are dissatisfied with their experiences or their expectations are violated, our value in the marketplace is diminished. Signs that we might be losing ground include: attrition, low success rates, no client action on up-sell or cross-sell options, our own frustration with the direction our clients are going (or not going, because they’re not making change), more prospects balking at price, and of course, fewer referrals–either over time or by percentage of clients who work with us. Too often, solo service providers and business owners will try to treat their symptoms with a perceived panacea (usually tactical), but without a complete analysis and proper diagnosis. This is unfortunate because all of the aforementioned signs might also point to a number of “diagnoses,” including but not limited to: Shifts in the marketplace New alternatives Attracting the wrong clients in the first place Lack of brand value Brand messaging that doesn’t resonate Communications issues Lack of change on our parts to make our vision a reality If you can’t be sure you have the right diagnosis, it’s a good time for us to talk. Before you waste money and time on efforts that will not work–or will only work temporarily. If you suspect client dissatisfaction is the problem, gaining client insight is one important first-step activity. But it must be done expertly and by a third-party to get the unbiased, REAL answers. Painful as they might be, this knowledge points us in the direction of improvement. It gives us the answers we need to increase our repeat business, stave off attrition, eliminate “bad appling” by clients or participants, and ultimately to be part of their success while being appropriately compensated for it! Gaining client insight–or even diagnosing the correct problem–is an important but sometimes not urgent activity. That’s why it’s the #30DaysofQ2 challenge subject...

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Uncovering Expectations, Not Just Managing Expectations

on March 25 in Service Experience Design | 0 comments

It seems everyone talks about managing expectations but it’s just as important to do the work of uncovering them. I say “uncovering” because sometimes they can be buried. Even from the people who have them. And ourselves. Too often, service providers will assume what the expectations are and cater to those assumptions. In fairness, sometimes these are experience-based and built over time from client engagements, but let’s keep in mind: Clients are not clones. As consultants and service providers, we have to do a little detective work to understand individual clients’ unique needs. The good news is we are used to asking good questions, right? We need to design questions that will extract what people expect from us when providing our services. Especially where they differ from other clients’, partners’, or our own expectations of ourselves and our clients and partners. How is that experience matching or out of alignment with a client’s ideas? (This is also useful for strategic marketing communications efforts.) If you are new to business, you might might begin with making a list of all the things that can go wrong. But, since you don’t know what you don’t know, talking with fellow consultants in other sectors is a great way to be prepared. (If you are in Phoenix, contact me to be a part of a group who can help you.) Some common things to focus on might be expected turnaround times for email response times for anything really. Also what will be the path if there is no response or repeated your responsiveness lack of their of or if meetings are missed lack of respect with respect to someone else’s time. It’s important I guess not only to say what will happen if these things happen but to say hey here’s what is OK and what is not. Oftentimes professionally we do not do this from a personal level and I think it makes all the difference. I talk a lot about authenticity and I think this is a great point of intersection between the personal and professional which I don’t separate out anyway. Whether you are new or seasoned, after uncovering expectations, you might want to address the communications around that. In other words, “How...

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Designing the Client Experience

on March 17 in Foundations, Service Experience Design | 1 comment

Yesterday at Conscious Connections, Kristin Slice of Empowered Lab Communications presented on personal leadership.  The room was filled with conscious women business owners–and many of them one-woman shops. For those of us who have a background in marketing, we relied on our knowledge of product development and brand when starting our business. We (ideally) spent a lot of time in Stephen Covey’s “Quadrant 2” to do that important, foundational marketing work. Kristin reminded me, however, that not everyone has done these things from the get-go. Or even designed their client experiences. What does leadership have to do with designing the client experience? If we lead our businesses (and ourselves!) for the purpose of growing our bottom line, it is our clients’ satisfied experiences that drive repeat business and create word of mouth and referrals. Therefore, it makes perfect sense we would spend time to DESIGN a service experience that will yield high levels of satisfaction–vs. leave it to chance. I realize this is a challenge as we busily attempt to attract, connect, close, and serve–at the tactical level.  We often might not do this as strategically as we could in our haste to meet our numbers, pay the bills, or succeed. Sometimes we are too busy with “promoting our business” (what some people call marketing) and doing the work that we forget to purposefully design the customer experience. And that includes measuring it also. They are two sides of the same coin you could say.  Design, execute, measure, adapt. It’s a bigger subject than it looks like on the surface when you look at the entire spectrum of what needs to be done around customer experience. It relates to brand, too. Sound overwhelming? That’s why it’s the Day 18 challenge for #30DaysofQ2. Have you spent time designing your customer experience? Have you noticed a difference in your bottom line by making the commitment to this Quadrant 2 activity?...

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Process Mapping for Smaller Small Businesses

on March 10 in Foundations, Service Experience Design | 0 comments

Processes are in place whether you design them or not. When you’re a smaller small–a solopreneur, solo service provider, or microbusiness–making time for process development can seem a luxury. A nice to have. And even sometimes “a waste of time” compared to the pressing needs (read: Quadrant 1) of sales efforts. This is as much a challenge for me as it is anyone. Even though I can help others by mapping their “as is” and “to be” processes and closing the gaps, doing that for myself from a time and perspective standpoint is challenging. When you’re a one-person show, it’s about efficiency, of course. But it’s easy to shrug off process, thinking, “It’s just me. What’s the impact?” And there’s no one to be accountable to anyway. No one is clamoring for this. That’s why process mapping (preceded by process identification) is a Quadrant 2 activity. If you’re struggling to see the “Important” side of this activity, put it in the context of sales. Are there any sales pain points (for you or the prospects in terms of engaging with you) that can be tracked back to process?  Are you using a CRM or automation tool that you’ve shoehorned yourself into? If so, that can be a big time waster–having to adapt to a tool. As smaller small businesses who see the need for process, we don’t need CBPPs to come in. We don’t have budget for that anyway. But we can benefit from spending time mapping key processes, even if the output isn’t on par with a Business Process Management professional’s. [bctt tweet=”Processes are in place whether you design them or not.”] Thanks for reading Day 11 of #30DaysofQ2. Please provide your feedback in the comments. 🙂   Related articles across the web The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit: 41 Tools to Get Up and...

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How to Budget for Culture

on March 20 in Foundations, Service Experience Design | 0 comments

Hint: Make culture directly funded by each sale There’s a lot I could say about Buffer‘s (aka Bufferapp’s) pricing transparency and how they have budgeted for culture, as well as the impact that has on me as a prospective customer. But, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll just let this sink in: What do you have to say about...

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