Why spend time putting out fires when you could deliver an amazing client experience? These are the Five Hot Principles of the Client Experience Roadmap.

Every agency owner has experience with client fires. 

We’re all in a service business, which means these fires are almost guaranteed. There are a lot of steps involved in the stuff we do for clients, and sometimes things go wrong.

And that’s what leads to fires.

At the end of the day, you don’t want these fires to cost you business.

You want a framework in place that will give you some warning so you can address issues in advance. And if you do have a fire, you’ve built up a strong enough relationship that the client has a higher tolerance for problems.

That’s what the Client Experience Roadmap is all about.

Why Do You Need This?

Let me tell you a little story about my toddler.

He’d misbehaved, which led to me taking his Lego away. He was not happy. A little while later I asked him to come and give me a hug. If he did that, he’d get his Lego back.

But he was so unhappy with having his stuff taken away that it just wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t getting a hug, a high-five, or even a fist bump.

Why am I telling you this?

If you’ve ever started off a meeting with a client on the wrong foot, this is what it can feel like. I’m not calling your clients toddlers. I’m saying that they’ll come into the meeting feeling so unhappy that it’s tough to get them to turn their mood around.

It can make you feel like your client’s happiness is a black box. 

You’re never really sure if the client’s happy or upset. 

The reason you need this roadmap is that it can help you to peer inside that box. It’ll help you to figure out how your clients feel, which means you don’t have to go into meetings on the wrong foot.

The Opportunity

There’s a simple opportunity here.

The Client Experience Roadmap puts you in a situation where you’re co-creating with happy clients. 

And because you’re working together, everything else goes much more smoothly.

Things start to fall apart whenever there’s tension in a project. You want to make your clients feel happy about what you’re doing together.

This roadmap is going to help you to put a finger on the pulse of your client’s happiness. 

You’ll get advance warning when there’s trouble. Rather than turning up at the burning building, you’ll have a smoke alarm that tells you that something’s up.

So instead of grabbing the hose and spending hours on the problem, you grab the tiny fire extinguisher and get rid of it faster.

The Five Hot Principles

The Client Experience Roadmap has five principles that you need to follow. Get these right and you’ll improve communication with clients and have far fewer fires to fight.

Let’s get into them.

Principle #1 – Unpack and Map Your Client

You probably have checklists and processes for every project that you work on.

But that’s all about what you’re creating for your clients. It’s the stuff that helps you to achieve the things that the client hired you to do.

It’s the experience the client has with your agency that creates raving fans. 

Your project process is not the same thing as the customer experience. If you haven’t been in touch with your client because you’ve been working on something, you’re not creating a great experience.

One of the agencies we coach had a retention problem.

They signed anywhere from 10 to 20 clients per month. But most of those clients canceled somewhere between month three and month six.

The agency told me that they delivered so much work to these clients. They crushed it in terms of providing value. And there was clearly no problem with sales or marketing.

So, we focused on unpacking the client experience at about month three or four.

We found that the agency started asking their clients to make posts on social media at this point. The problem was that this wasn’t something the clients felt comfortable doing. 

That meant the clients didn’t post the content. Then, they’d feel guilty about it. Ultimately, they didn’t get the results because they didn’t do the work.

The agency laid the blame on the clients’ doorstep, which is what led to so many of them leaving.

After unpacking the experience, you can see where the bumps in the journey are for your client. That means you can do something about them.

Principle #2 – Interview Your Clients

It can feel a little uncomfortable to ask clients what it was like to work with you. You might feel like they’re going to totally tear you down.

But think about it like this: the feedback your clients give you helps you to see what you need to improve with your processes and make more people happy.

Try asking them:

  • What you should keep doing
  • What you should change
  • What you didn’t do that the client expected

It’s really simple to do this. Just set up a Calendly schedule and email your clients. Ask them to schedule a 30-minute slot where you can ask five or six questions focused on if they got what they expected from you.

Principle #3 – Add Automated Sensors and Triggers

You want to be able to identify the stages of your process that can cause stress and unhappiness.

That means you need automated sensors that sound off whenever the warning signs appear. This is super important for agency owners who have teams that they delegate a lot of work to.

We use a service called Nice Reply for this. 

It plugs into our ticketing system and keeps an eye out for potential fires. When it spots one, it can send out a survey to the client who sent the ticket. 

You can also create automated emails that trigger when you complete a task for the client. Just a simple “How did we do?” survey works here.

This automation allows you to peer into the black box we mentioned earlier. It can give you an early indication that the client isn’t happy. That means you can make a decision on whether you need to get in touch to calm a situation down.

Principle #4 – Build Happy Rituals and Unexpected Wow

Find ways to add routines that put a smile on the client’s face.

Doing this makes room for authentic connections and gives clients a reason to talk about you.

Anyone who’s attended the UACADEMY Bootcamp has seen some of these rituals in action. We do “segues” and “headlines”. We shine a spotlight on big wins and we have the Air Gong at the end of meetings. 

We also have shirts and other things that we give out.

These are little rituals and unexpected niceties that just create a better experience for the people in Bootcamp.

Think about the little artifacts that you can give to your clients. Add some rituals that bring some fun into your meetings. 

I have another great example of this. I hold a lot of meetings at the Four Seasons in Denver. For ages, they had these awesome cheese Danishes on the menu that I loved.

Then they took them away and I jokingly kicked up a bit of a fuss about it.

But they responded by having their pastry chef make three Danishes especially for me whenever I have a meeting there.

That’s an unexpected wow that’s going to keep me coming back.

Principle #5 – Deliver the Goods

No matter how much fun you bring with your client experience, you must get results.

You have to make good on the promise that you made to your client.

You can wash away a lot of bad experiences with good results. But the opposite isn’t always true. It doesn’t matter how much the client likes working with you if you’re not delivering.

Don’t lose track of the results because they’re still the most important thing.

As long as you keep getting results, you can correct course on the customer experience.

Snuff Out the Fires Before They Happen

You don’t want to spend all of your time putting out fires.

If you’re doing that, you’re spending less time on actually delivering the results that the client expects. Plus, you’re allowing tension to creep into the relationship.

The Client Experience Roadmap allows you to identify the warning signs. That means you can snuff out small fires before they become major problems.

This is just one of the many things I show agency owners in UACADEMY.

Not a member yet? Apply for a FREE strategy session with us today to find out if we can work together on improving your agency.