Episode 63: Delivering the Ultimate Client Experience

Earlier this year we launched our DHG service guidelines, which outline how we serve our internal and external clients in order to deliver the ultimate client experience. Saari Gardner, our Director of Client Experience, joins us to talk about why knowledge share is an essential component in this process.

Episode 63 Transcript:

AGH: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of our DHG podcast series. I’m Alice Grey Harrison, your host. I love this venue, because we get to hear about the things that matter the most to us; flexibility, careers and people.

Earlier this year we launched our service guidelines, which outlined how we will serve our clients in order to deliver the ultimate client experience. We believe that these guidelines will help us consistently deliver an exceptional client experience, which is a goal for all of us, whether we’re serving internal or external clients.

The guidelines are: be responsive, take action and add value. They are our cornerstones for how we serve our clients. One way we can act on these guidelines relates to knowledge share, which is also an important component of our service strategy. Through research, we and others in the field of client experience have found a direct correlation between knowledge share and a positive client experience. Seems like a no-brainer, but there is actual, real data that supports this.

Joining me today is Saari Gardner, DHG’s Director of Client Experience, to discuss how knowledge share connects with the client experience. Welcome Saari.

SG: Hi. Glad to be here.

AGH: We’ve had so much fun working on these guidelines. When we started talking about different ways to help educate our people on the importance of knowledge share, someone suggested a podcast, and I immediately jumped on that opportunity to talk to you today. Let’s begin. Why is knowledge share more than just an industry obligation for DHG?

SG: Well, I’d say, simply put, we owe it to our clients to deliver it. Knowledge share is something of value that we can provide to our clients and to our prospective clients about asking for anything in return. We have a lot of smart people in our firm who have a lot of experience and are extremely well-versed in a lot of these opt-in complex topics that many of our clients are having to deal with.

Sharing knowledge share with our clients helps them to become educated on some of these topics and that info that they get helps them to tackle the challenges in their day-to-day life, and is one other way that we can convey to them that we’re looking out for their best interests.

AGH: Absolutely. Even in my own industry of public relations, there is someone out there who I really respect. I followed his work for a really long time and he does lots of knowledge share. Last year, when we began working on our two-way communications process I was able to say, you know what, I know this guy, I don’t really know him, but I’ve been following his work for all these years and I think that he would be a truly valuable resource to us as we begin to craft what two-way looks like.

We brought him in and he continues to do work with us. If he hadn’t been doing this knowledge share all along and teaching me, I would not have even known who he was. There definitely has to be some connection there. He continues to share stuff and build my knowledge.

SG: Yeah. Interesting that client experience as a discipline is pretty new. I mean, really just in the last 10 years or so where you find that firms are hiring people in those roles and giving them those titles. That is a big component of the community of people who do client experience work, they knowledge share with each other and there is just an openness to share experiences. It means a lot for us.

AGH: Yeah, absolutely. I opened by talking about knowledge share and client experience. Can you tell me about the connection between the two that you and other experts in this field have been able to identify?

SG: Yeah. Well, knowledge share done well, focuses on our clients by putting their informational needs ahead of our own. When done well, it puts the client at the center of what we’re doing, which is exactly what a client experience focus is about.

Other things that we know… There was a Havas Group study in 2017 on meaningful brands and they found that 84% of their respondents said that they expect the brands that they work with to be delivering content. Expectation management, part and parcel to client experience, so we simply need to be doing it.

Another report from Demand Gen in 2016 said that 96% of their respondents want to consume content with more input from industry thought leaders. They want content that’s going to help them benchmark their strategies, content that highlights how other people are dealing with challenges and gives them that information to help them in their business.

In our own research, we found that our clients that say that we’re their trusted adviser, in 2017, they were presented with on average 22% more pieces of knowledge share than the clients that would use a different term.

AGH: Wow. Yeah, that’s pretty big, and we just started measuring it.

SG: Yeah. We see that connection loud and clear that other people have been studying out in the marketplace.

AGH: Wow. Ok, so we’re all pushed to the limits. There are only so many hours of the day and we’re expected to do a lot with our hours. There are so many things around the firm that we’re measuring, even we see it on our dashboards every Wednesday. Why is DHG pursuing this and this measurement?

SG: Well, we know that it’s important to our clients and that’s what we’ve heard through the research that I just shared. It helps to keep us in touch with them in between our engagements and projects. Some clients we don’t have multiple touch points with them throughout the year. It might just be one project we work with them on. It helps us to sustain that conversation, even when there’s not an immediate project need.

The measurement, why we’re looking at this, is because even though we’ve seen that evidence we know that it takes a lot of effort, a lot of time to produce good, meaningful knowledge share. Our people’s resource is their time. We want to make sure that they’re allocating it towards activities that are going to really further their ability to deliver service to our clients.

AGH: And build their career too, right?

SG: Yeah, their careers. Right. We want to track it, because if we should find something contrary as we’re tracking this information that tells us that it’s not driving value and that our clients are not seeing the value in it, then we might want to allocate that time towards other activities.

AGH: In public relations, which is my field, everything is pretty soft and touchy feely. But, there is an adage that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring. I think that goes to this. If it’s worth doing this, it’s measuring it, and to figure out what is our return on investment for the amount of effort that we exert.

SG: Exactly.

AGH: Well, those are all of the questions I have today. Thank you for joining me. We’ve developed such a great foundation with our client experience and service guidelines. I look forward to all that’s to come over the next 12 months as we work together to press forward. If you would like to learn more about our client experience approach, or have any questions related to what we talked about today, please feel free to reach out to Saari.

Thank you all for listening to Life at DHG, our premier podcast series. If you like what you just heard, we hope you’ll tell your friends and colleagues. Be sure to check out our DHG blog for more great stories about our Life Beyond Numbers.

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