Laura Bohlmann, Client Experience Manager
Today we’re talking about Customer, or Client, Experience (CX).
Much like digital transformation, CX has taken the world of business by storm over the last few decades, kicking off massive sea change in the way companies think about and engage with their customers. There’s no doubt that we are living in the ‘Age of the Customer’, but the concept that their experience should be prioritized and their loyalty hard-won is not new.
What we’re really talking about when we say ‘Client Experience’ is a newfound mindfulness about brand relationships. If the customer is always right, we want to know what they know. For the first time ever, businesses of all shapes and sizes have roles, and oftentimes, entire departments dedicated to designing, cultivating, tracking, and measuring every single detail of the customer journey.
For us at Blooma, CX means Client Experience. We make this distinction not for the sake of being different, but because we believe it sets the tone for everything we do in service of building long-lasting and meaningful relationships with our customers. When we think about customer experiences, we think about a journey that is more transactional in nature. Customers come and go. Clients, however, are people we engage with over the lifetime of a long-term relationship. Empathy is front and center with helping to achieve our clients’ strategic initiatives that are part of short, medium and long term plans.
The reality is that some companies do this a lot better than others. Between chatbots and call centers, account reps and knowledge bases, there are a lot of ways to engage customers and make sure they’re happy. For software companies like us, there’s an added pressure to fine tune a careful mix between handholding and self-service that sets apart the helpful from the disengaged, or worse yet, annoying.
At Blooma, we’ve got an opinion about client experience and pride ourselves on the fact that, for us, it’s as much a product as our platform.
Here are 5 ways we do CX differently to deliver value for our clients from day 1:
1. We don’t do “implementation”
If you’ve ever been through a really painful vendor onboarding, you know why implementation is a four-letter word for us. The entire process can take anywhere from 3-6 months and often involves a tedious back and forth before you can even start using what you’ve paid for. Our clients look for new software solutions to help optimize or offset an already heavy workload, so any additional effort added for an already overworked team is likely going to turn them off from using the solution altogether — no matter how great it is.
The entire experience is understandably traumatizing for many of our clients which is why we’ve taken such great pains to completely turn the onboarding process on its head. By creating a platform that functions out-of-the-box, all we need to do to get our clients up and running is make a few minor configurations on the front end before they get access, which takes 30 days or less (and that includes discovery and training). That means that the moment you get your login credentials to the platform, you can start using it. Yes, really.
2. We take time to understand your goals before you get started
This one’s important. From the moment you sign your contract with us, our Client Experience team gets to work piecing together all the relevant information needed to set you up for a successful onboarding.
As part of our discovery process, we work with a few key stakeholders and our sales team to identify things like:
- Current workflow (including key pain points & bottlenecks)
- Exactly where Blooma fits into your unique process
- Business targets & goals
- Department size
- Portfolio size
- Deals reviewed during pre-flight vs. originated
- Types of deals being reviewed
- Who will be using the system, as well as any unique user personas
- Underwriting & reporting templates (for mapping & export)
- And so much more!
Once these details are reviewed and validated by the client, we set an onboarding date with all users of the system and get to work on prepping to ensure it’s as successful as possible. This includes spinning up the client site, template mapping, and setting up user credentials.
Doing it this way means that our client’s “go-live” and first onboarding session are simultaneous, so from the moment you’re done getting trained up on the platform, you also can log in and start using it– no downtime required.
3. We set you up for success from day 1
What may seem like overkill in pre-work on our part is actually a critical component to ensuring each one of our users starts seeing value from the platform as soon as possible. All the discovery work done in preparation means that we can truly personalize your experience with us, meaning that no two onboardings are the same. In person or virtual? One longer session or broken up over a couple of days? That all depends on what works best for the client.
During the onboarding itself, we take what we’ve gathered (including actual deals) from our clients to demo their specific site, aligned to their workflow, using deals they recognize to deliver a true “day in the life” experience and an onboarding that’s actually helpful. Not only this, but we clearly lay out the entire process through to adoption, including a defined plan demonstrating how (and when) we’ll start hitting client goals using the platform – and what we’ll do if we need to optimize or intervene at any point between now and then. We don’t leave your success up to chance, we prep, plan, and nail it together.
4. We make sure you are on target to reach your goals
In order for us to be successful, we need our clients to be successful, too. When we think about Client Experience, we put a major emphasis on the onboarding process because those first engagements out the gate really do make all the difference. But we don’t train and then leave our clients to muddle through the rest. As they say: “what gets measured, gets managed” and as a company that knows the power of data-driven insights we adopt a similar approach in how we think about the experience we provide for our clients.
We track all sorts of user stats inside of the platform to determine what’s working and what’s not. Be it low utilization of certain features, or changes in deal volume or size for example, we can help diagnose and prescribe actions to help get users back on track to reaching their goals. All this goes to say that we make a science out of understanding how, when and why our clients are using Blooma and what we can be doing to consistently add value for them.
While this is an important activity for us, we must also understand that there is a fine line on how much help is actually helpful. Checking in is important, but do this too often, and you might do more harm than good.
For us, that means openly communicating about what our clients want. When we’re first starting out, we want to be as present as possible to ensure that anyone using the platform feels confident to do their day-to-day work. But after that? It’s really up to you. The important thing to remember is that regardless of the number of check ins we agree on with a client, we’re always keeping a watchful eye on how things are going so we can step in and help at a moment’s notice.
5. We take your feedback seriously
Whether it’s a feedback button on a website, or a follow up survey in your inbox, companies are constantly asking their customers how they’re doing. And if you’re someone who actually went ahead to give your opinion and didn’t hear back – you’re not alone. There are plenty of stories about customer service gone wrong (like the British Airlines fiasco in 2013) due to slow response times, or worse yet, no response at all.
In today’s day and age, gathering feedback oftentimes feels like a “check the box” exercise for brands – but it shouldn’t be. Getting direct input from your customers offers up a gold mine of insight for your business. And we’re here to argue that allowing them to clue you in on where your product has room for improvement is actually a good thing.
We built Blooma with our first few customers because we knew that with their expertise and guidance, we could create the best version of our platform possible. But we didn’t stop there. We’ve built in ways for our clients to request new features and couple that with the insights we gather from platform usage to prioritize getting these items on our product roadmap. But this isn’t just a one-way street. As we think up innovation tracks, we reach out to system users to pitch and validate new ideas to make sure that A) they’re helpful and B) we’re going about them in a way that makes sense for our clients.
Most importantly, we believe in open communication. From the moment a client submits feedback, we kick off a process to ensure they know we’ve received it, what we’re doing about it, and what they can expect moving forward.
At Blooma, we’re constantly evolving to meet the need of our clients — whether that’s changes to the platform itself, or even rethinking Client Experience. What remains constant is our commitment to value, and for our clients, that starts on Day 1.