Top 10 Hurdles to Providing an Excellent Client Experience


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Continuing with our weekly Top Ten lists, the 4th topic in our series: The Top 10 Hurdles to Providing an Excellent Client Experience

Since working with many firms over the past 10 years, we have seen varied approaches to the client experience and we have helped many clients make fundamental improvements to their approach. As such, we have witnessed many approaches that simply do not work or create significant barriers to a positive client experience. Here are our Top 10 hurdles to providing an excellent client experience:

1. Sales Territorialism.

In some organizations, sales become very nervous when others within the organization want to proactively communicate with “their” clients. In fact they really don’t want you to call for fear that it may reveal challenges or issues that a client is experiencing. To be direct, this is a ridiculous idea and position because it assumes that the client is blind to the point where they do not know that they are experiencing issues. Of course they do! Pretending they aren’t there, or simply hoping a client will forget is a great way to show them the Exit. It is always better to meet client challenges and issues head on and with complete transparency so that you can actively show that you take their issues seriously and are working aggressively to improve.

2. Outdated Leadership Attitude towards Client Service.

There are still some leaders who look at support and services as something they need to deal with when client issues arise. They structure these groups to be reactive orientated instead of being structured for nurturing strong and lasting relationships with clients. Oftentimes, these groups are considered cost centers rather than revenue protection centers. Not seeing this group as a strategic part of the business is a mistake that, over time, will be fatal. (See our previous blog posting: ( It is Not Support – It’s Revenue Protection!)

3. No corporate-wide ownership of client retention (aka Revenue Protection).

Client services are often solely saddled with the challenge of client retention with little to no help from other groups. The reality is that client retention and revenue protection is a corporate responsibility, where each major group has a role to play. This may be the fulltime concern of the client services group – but other teams should feel the pain or benefit of corporate successes or failures with client retention. Especially in the age of subscription-based revenue, client retention and revenue protection must be a corporate mantra.

4. Sheltered Product Management.

If Product Management is not interfacing with clients regularly, you have the wrong product management team. Too many times product management get client “feedback” from 3rd parties (sales, marketing, support), and don’t actually get feedback from the source. At this point, in 2011, including clients in product roadmap discussion and previews of yet to be release software is simply common sense. Getting clients engaged at this level makes client loyalty thrive.

5. Executives staying in their ivory tower.

Executives need to interface with clients and not leave it up to “their people” to do. I am not suggesting this should be their prime focus, but having an executive reach out to clients serves two purposes. It emphasizes the importance any given client has to the business and provides the kind of direct feedback that will help them make better executive decisions.

6. Minimal investment in client impacting tools & technologies.

Not investing in technologies that will improve the client experience through automation, self serve or allows your client to engage with your organization in a way that helps them be more successful with your solution will have negative consequences. Clients want choices on how to communicate with you, how to learn more, find answers and improve their experience with your software or service. Understand that the overall client experience is, in their eyes, part of the whole product or service that they purchased from you.

7. No dedicated executive leadership of the client services organization.

In many companies there is no dedicated leadership of the Client Services organization. Often you will see, as example, a VP of Sales and Services or a VP of Development and Support. The reality is that these executives often only judged based on the first part of their title, not the second. The VP of Sales & Service is not going to get fired from a poorly executed services strategy. They will get fired if they consistently miss quota. At the end of the day, people will focus on the area that will mean the difference between having a job or not. The second part of their title will get substantially less of their time and energy and is often the area that they have the least experience.

8. Lack of empowerment.

Those who are working in client-facing roles must be empowered to make client impacting decisions. Your clients need to have the confidence in whoever they are dealing with can and will help them. It does not look good, and in fact it is quite frustrating when clients get bounced through levels of management to get an issue resolved. Obviously there needs to be parameters around the type of decisions they can make, and if a poor decisions was made, support them so they will learn from it because ultimately that decision was made in the best interests of the client.

9. Lack of career path for those in client services roles.

Without a career path, a client services role becomes a stepping stone on their actual career path which can create churn within the group. Every time someone leaves, you lose valuable knowledge which has a significant client impact. Client-facing roles should be structured as to be a career onto itself.

10. Attempting to keep significant client impacting issues quiet.

It’s always best to be proactive and upfront with clients when issues exist – never wait until they stumble upon it themselves. Your client may not be happy, in fact they may be furious about the issue – but they will view you as being an honest company with high integrity. If you are able to provide reasonable timelines for improvements and fixes they will consider you a trusted partner.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeff Bennett
Before founding ServiceVantage Corporation in 2002, Jeff headed up all of Corel Corporation's North American support and professional service. Today as the founder and partner of ServiceVantage Corporation, Jeff is a customer lifecycle expert who help technology companies accelerate revenue and market growth through the identification, development and execution of strategies that maximize recurring revenue, strengthen customer retention and generate customer-driven referrals.


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