4 minute read – Growth Optimisation Series – Improving client and NDIS participant experience
As the leader of an aged or disability care provider, how familiar are you with the journey your client or NDIS participant takes from the moment they find out about your organisation, to the point at which they decide to commission your services?
Over recent years, as the disability care sector has transitioned to the NDIS, leaders in this space have needed to build a much more commercial understanding of the ‘customer-centric’ concept.
At VisiCase, just like our clients, we are embarking on a mission to enhance our customer experience and become truly ‘customer-centric’. To help guide our approach, we were joined by a local brand and marketing expert, Amanda Rose, to explain exactly how you can optimise your customer journey and stand out in your market.
What is customer journey and customer experience?
As is suggested, customer experience is the way your customer or NDIS participant feels, and how they perceive your brand and service, at every point they interact with your organisation. The sum of all these points is called your ‘customer journey’.
“The customer perception of your brand, and how they will talk about it publicly or if they will recommend it, is not just derived from their experience at a point of purchase, or while receiving a service,” Amanda said. “In fact, you can deliver a great service, but if follow up is required and never comes, it can seriously tarnish your reputation and your bottom line.”
“The way a customer experiences your brand does not just come from that one point of interaction; it comes from the way they feel and the way they are treated every time they interact with your brand. This might be when they first see an ad about your company, when they purchase, or when they get that customer service feedback form at the end.”
Why is customer journey and experience important?
Customer journey and experience are important for a long list of reasons, but most notably, because they have a significant impact on your business and bottom line.
“An exceptional customer experience will likely result in a customer who tells their friends, family, social media followers – anyone who will listen – about your brand in a positive way. It can truly make your business stand out. Of course, customers will also tell anyone they can, if they have a bad experience,” Amanda explained. “Obviously word-of-mouth and peer review are so important now in building business, so a poor customer experience can lead to a loss of revenue.”
“For most businesses, retaining a client is very important. In almost any industry, acquiring a new client costs significantly more than simply holding onto an existing client, so the more a client enjoys their experience with you, the less you need to spend to maintain your bottom line.”
In general, customer experience contributes to building the organic, public perception of your brand – a perception that is difficult to turn-around with advertising and marketing if it is negative.
How can you better understand your client or NDIS participant experience?
As noted, customer experience is derived from every interaction an NDIS participant or customer has with your brand, so in order to really understand your customer experience, first you need to understand their journey.
“Mapping out your customer journey can be as easy or as difficult as you care to make it,” Amanda said. “To begin, identify each time a client might have an opportunity to be exposed to your brand.”
“Generally, this starts with the first time they become aware of your brand, for example, through an ad or word-of mouth. It continues through a selling process, conversion, implementation or product fulfilment, and then client after-care or retention, depending on the product or service.”
“For each of those steps, identify every touchpoint your client has with your brand. For example, at the awareness stage, they might receive a referral, see an advertisement on Facebook, receive a pamphlet from their doctor. During conversion, everything, from the proposal they receive, to the materials you provide about service, to their calls to your receptionist, are considered touchpoints. Make sure you get them all – one bad experience or touchpoint can destroy a whole series of positive experiences.”
Once the customer experience has been mapped, performance should be assessed. This is not an exercise in blame, but in better understanding what is currently being done and how it can be enhanced or improved.
Data from digital interactions can be helpful here, but the most useful source of information is your clients themselves.
Depth-interviews (ideally by an independent third-party), can provide valuable notes about how each customer felt at each touchpoint, from whether the person they interacted with was patient and professional, to if the information provided was enough or even too much.
How can you enhance your client or NDIS participant experience?
Improving on anything comes from first understanding it. Mapping out the customer journey and assessing it by talking to customers, will provide a solid foundation from which to determine where you can improve and enhance.
Again, it is important to note the need for improvement or enhancement, does not always mean it is currently being done ‘wrong’, so blame should not assigned.
Rather, it can mean you see an opportunity to do something in a different way, that may make your brand stand out more positively than those of your competitors.
Work with your delivery team – the people who are responsible for each touchpoint – drawing on the map and customer feedback to identify opportunities to improve and enhance.
This may be changing an existing touchpoint so it is administered in a different way, or introducing something that is completely new that will help improve the customer experience overall.
If you can, set up two-way touchpoints – support calls, sales calls, customer assessments – with measures that allow you to continue to collect feedback from each customer, and assess and improve performance.
How does this apply to NDIS service providers?
With the transition to the NDIS, service providers are operating in a more competitive environment than ever before. NDIS participants have more opportunity to select their services and their service providers, and don’t need to stick with a provider if they feel they aren’t getting what they need.
“Service providers can improve their chances of securing new clients, and just as important, keep existing clients, by understanding exactly what that client is experiencing every time he or she interacts with your brand,” said Amanda.
“You can work out where the experience may not be as positive as it could be, determine a plan to work on it and improve, and in doing so, increase retention and your bottom line.”
VisiCase provides an NDIS-ready business automation platform, built on powerful workflows. It helps you manage, streamline and optimise every component of your business, and its modules empower a positive employee and client experience.
Amanda Rose is a marketing and communications specialist of almost 20 years, providing strategic guidance to boutique companies right through to multinationals, in Australia and Europe.