Creating trust with clients by being honest and authentic would seem to be an obvious essential. Yet to deepen trust in ways that cultivate strong loyalty requires intentionality and thoughtfulness that go beyond being honest, responsive, and capable.
The 3E approach to client experience adds value by thinking through how you can make the client journey more effortless, efficient, and enjoyable.
How does a doer-seller, like an attorney, incorporate the 3E approach to client experience? Let’s address each component.
Effortless. Making the client experience more effortless starts by preparing for each interaction. Have defined objectives, know what you need to ask about, and define the essential messages and headlines. Additionally, think beyond the interaction itself to consider the anticipated next steps and, as you identify the actions a client will need to take, think through how you might make it more effortless for the client to act.
For example, if a client will need to communicate information to a larger team or set of stakeholders after your discussion, instead of leaving it to them to translate your conversation, can you pre-draft a communique that the client can just cut and paste, saving them time and effort? Or, instead of asking the client to send you documents, offer to reach out to an assistant or appropriate team member directly to obtain the documents.
Efficient. Consider how you are working and engaging with your client to spot opportunities to consolidate information, reduce digital clutter, or eliminate unnecessary steps in the communication chain.
For instance, when kicking off a new project, assembling a team directory—by listing roles, contact info, and headshots of both the direct team and support staff, such as secretaries, billing contact, and tech support—and then sending it along with downloadable v-cards can make it more efficient for your client to interact throughout the project. As you work through a project, consider building a project record (paper or electronic) that becomes a logbook of sorts for the client to refer to later as needed. Key elements might include documents, who, how and why decisions were made, and other information that a client might want to access as new team members onboard or a team prepares to repeat a similar type of project in the future.
Enjoyable. Being a professional doesn’t mean that the client journey has to always be task focused and serious. By considering ways to make interactions more enjoyable, you can make progress on the business at hand while also adding value to the relationship. Simply put, clients like doing business with people they enjoy spending time with. To make the interaction more enjoyable, consider the venue of meetings, the timing of calls, and the things you talk about.
For instance, instead of emailing the client a list of questions, perhaps it would be more enjoyable – and efficient – if you were to propose bringing afternoon lattes and a favorite dessert to their office for 30 minutes to work through your list of questions while they verbally give their responses and preferences. Instead of doing business via phone, can you take them to lunch at a great new restaurant or discuss business over golf, yoga or another activity that would add an element of enjoyment for you both? You might also consider sending client gifts that create unexpected moments of delight, such as a picnic basket at the start of summer.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the 3Es
In order to use the 3E approach to enhance client value, it is essential to marry the approach to the context of the client relationship. There is no one-size-fits-all formula. You need to know your clients – the people, their culture and their market – to get the 3E approach right. With a little preparation and empathy, however, a few minutes of deliberation can make a large difference in what it feels like to work with you which is how you improve trust through client experience.