Taking Client Service to the Next Level at DHG

As we steer DHG into the future, one of the areas in which we are investing time and capital is our overall client experience area, which we refer to as CX. CX is more than just providing client service on a project or annual service that we deliver. It involves our performance around the entire experience a client enjoys in working with DHG. These additional “experience” components can include non-project communications, our digital presence and communication, our promptness, invoicing, and more. As our clients become more complex and the opportunities created by technological innovations expand, understanding what creates an outstanding CX becomes more complicated and can vary widely from client to client. We know we must collect data from our clients on how we are performing, and then use the data to continuously pursue outstanding client experience - what we call CX Strong.

Guiding us in our CX Strong mentality is our Director of Client Experience, Saari Gardner. She joins me to share insight on CX trends, what CX looks like at DHG and how it impacts our ability to build valuable careers with our people.

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What are we seeing as current trends in CX?

Current business trends like the 24/7 economy, geographically dispersed teams, and multiple communication channels are factors that we must take into consideration when serving our clients.

Beyond that, there are the issues of harnessing data and leveraging data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to create more personalized experiences for clients, anticipate issues before they occur, and drive added value.

While AI is on the minds of many, there are a few trends that are timeless and really hit at the core of successful client experience management. Acknowledging the connection between the client experience and the employee experience while building empathy for the client’s emotional experience are two important areas that client-centric organizations are embracing.

How does CX impact our ability to build valuable careers with our people?

At DHG, we believe that understanding how to deliver an outstanding client experience is fundamental to building a valuable career. Whether our team members are serving on one of our client engagement teams or working in a non-client-facing role, we strive to develop these skills in our people to make them stronger professionals.

When the principles of how clients are served align with the principles of how employees treat each other within their organization, you are creating the right conditions for a client-centric culture. The notion here is that everyone in the organization has clients - some being external and some internal. When we serve our internal clients with excellence, we are better enabled to serve our external clients. When we serve our external clients well, we position ourselves for growth. When we grow, we have more resources to build careers with our people. Harvard researchers coined this the service-profit chain in the 1990's, and it is just as relevant now as it was then.

Can you explain our CX vision?

Our CX vision states that above all else, we listen, innovate, and take action to help our clients achieve their goals. We see a future where client impact is always a consideration in business decisions. DHG team members focus on effectively listening in a way that spurs innovation and take proactive action in a way that allows us to help our clients in a very meaningful way. It represents the “what we do” in service to our clients.

Our CX vision is the foundation for our cornerstones for connection: communication, collaboration, care, commitment, and curiosity - all highlighting the competencies that enable us to serve our clients with excellence and effectively coach our employees toward great careers. Our service guidelines - be responsive, take action, and add value - then help us further clarify how we can be consistent in delivering on our mission, strategy, and values. As one can see, being CX Strong is more than just performing and delivering on a one-time or annual project or service.

How do we decide whether our service is exceptional? How do we measure CX?

We understand that it is the client who defines whether we are delivering exceptional service. Our clients are each unique and we need to meet them where they are before we can help them achieve their goals. The way that we measure our CX delivery is based on what clients tell us is important and how we perform along the interactions and touchpoints we have with them.

  • Are we being responsive and timely?
  • Are we doing a good job of communicating and managing expectations?
  • Are we demonstrating that we understand their business and needs, and are we adding value beyond individual engagements?

These are the questions that we look at when measuring CX performance. We also monitor other key performance indicators such as overall satisfaction and Net Promoter Score (NPS.) Our NPS is consistently above 80%, which is generally considered a World Class result.

There is a lot of change happening at DHG. How do we integrate CX?

We have a long history of client centricity at DHG. In a lot of ways, CX is already part of who we are, including how we manage change. Recently, we have been communicating about our guidelines for serving clients. In order to deliver the ultimate client experience, these tenets need to be present in everything that we do.

As we adopt new processes and technologies, form new habits, and learn new ways of doing our work, we integrate CX into how we deliver service. Exceptional service is not something that you achieve and then never have to think about again; it is extremely fluid. We don’t define the quality of our service; our clients do, and their perception can change with each interaction. That is why this area must be top-of-mind and top-notch all the time.

How does the CX factor into the firm of the future?

The firm of the future must be CX Strong to anticipate changing client expectations and maintain relevancy in a dynamic business environment. The CX Strong firm is able to foster deeper and richer relationships by ensuring that its people have the knowledge, tools and skills to help their clients achieve their goals. So, we aim to be solutions-oriented with our clients, and in doing so, we naturally offer great experiences. Our future at DHG is bright, and CX will certainly serve as an important foundation for our success. We ask for your leadership and support as we strive to be CX Strong with every project and every service we deliver.

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