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How would you describe your program’s client experience? Is it positive or negative? What improvements can you implement to improve their overall experience?

If you want to increase the chances of success for your clients and your services/program, then you should focus on providing a great client experience. Nonprofit organizations must understand what drives customer experience, and then take action to improve it. Here are 6 ways to improve your client experience.

1. Create a customer journey map (CJM)
A customer or client journey map provides a visual representation of each step a potential client takes throughout their experience with your program. As such, the map should show how your clients first find you, what they do upon finding you, how they interact with your services/products, how they progress through your program, and how they leave after receiving your services/products or upon completing your program. This is best achieved by clearly identifying the client touchpoints and associated activities. For a more detailed description of the components of a CJM, see 10 Questions to Ask Yourself When Building a Client Journey Map.

2. Align your program’s marketing strategy and incorporate automation
Marketing is often reduced to the art of selling, but it’s actually a lot broader than that. According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), “marketing is the activity, institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value.” As such, your marketing strategy should reflect your business model, including the programs, services and/or products you offer, the channels you use to deliver these, your key delivery partners, the stakeholders, and the beneficiaries and customers. To learn more about this concept as it relates to nonprofit organizations and social enterprises as well as access a downloadable template, visit the Social Business Model Canvas website. 

Now, once you’ve aligned your marketing strategy around your business model, you can optimize your marketing through the use of automation tools. Marketing automation helps segment your audiences and clients based on data, specifically program data and the data that was collected while developing the CJM. This segmentation will allow your organization to better focus its efforts, intervention, and support to create a personalized experience for your clients; automation helps with scaling that experience.  

3. Measure success
It’s impossible to measure the effectiveness of your client experience if you’re not measuring anything. So, before you begin to optimize your client experience, set goals and key results you would like to obtain. Are you looking to increase conversion or enrollment rates? Or maybe you want to improve the number of clients who complete your program. Whatever your goal, you’ll need to track progress toward achieving it.

4. Use data to inform decision-making
This was stated in #2 but bears repeating. Data can tell you a lot about your clients’ behavior. But without analyzing the information, you won’t get actionable insights. That means collecting data, cleaning it up, AND using it to drive decisions. Data analytics tools can help you with analyzing trends, spotting problems, and predicting future outcomes.

5. Focus on happy client experiences
Be mindful of the interactions with your clients and customers throughout their journey. Listen to the feedback from them, your team, and your partners. Then use that insight to continuously improve your processes. Provide exceptional service, communicate clearly, and respond promptly. We all appreciate when we know the institutions with which we interact genuinely care about providing quality programming, services, and products.

6. Be Flexible
Lastly, customer and client experiences evolve over time. As your organization grows, your portfolio program changes and/or expands, and your target audience evolves, you’ll need to adapt accordingly. A customer- and client-centered approach requires flexibility. Instead of trying to force your client to fit into a rigid mold, let them shape your service delivery instead.

“Organizations and customers face many trade-offs in co-creating a superior customer experience and dualities will inevitably arise. A key issue is how to design and manage customer experiences so that there is a congruency within and across the three realms [of digital, physical, and social]. By congruency, we refer to the fit between the organization’s capabilities and resources and the customer’s capabilities and resources. Congruency requires connectivity among the realms, consistency among the elements in the different realms and thematic cohesion – taken together, superior service design.”

— Bolton et al., 2018

Bolton, R. N., McColl-Kennedy, J. R., Cheung, L., Gallan, A., Orsingher, C., Witell, L., & Zaki, M. (2018). Customer experience challenges: Bringing together digital, physical and Social Realms. Journal of Service Management, 29(5), 776–808. https://doi.org/10.1108/josm-04-2018-0113

6 Ways to Improve Your Client’s Experience

Dec 19, 2022

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