4 Exercises to Help You Bring Innovation to Customer Experience

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There is no better feeling in the world than seeing the look on a customer’s face as they transform from a customer to a fan of your company. Those opportunities to deliver more than what is expected are what make owning and operating your own business fun and gratifying.

I opened TitleSmart in 2007 with the goal of exceeding my clients’ expectations with every closing. There were fewer clients during that first year as the housing market bottomed out, but I know that it was our ability to create an outstanding closing experience that helped us not only survive those tough months, but thrive as volume, opportunities, and competition picked back up.

That original goal, to exceed expectations, motivates us every day. With the accelerated pace of change, expectations for customer service are increasing faster than ever, and it can be a challenge to stay ahead of the curve. So how do we make it a practice to focus on continuously innovating for our customer? We’ve identified four key exercises that our team goes through on a regular basis to keep our customer experience fresh and fun. I’ll explain how we use them within the title insurance industry, but I know these exercises could help generate new ideas in other industries as well.

Start with a pain point

In every industry there are parts of the purchasing experience that are primed for improvement. It could be the initial search or research before a purchase, the purchase itself, or the support or follow up that customers receive, or don’t receive, after they’ve made a purchase. With title, we know that the biggest pain point is when closings don’t go smoothly or are delayed. We address that by having the most experienced closers in the industry and doing detailed legwork upfront to ensure we’ve identified and dealt with any red flags well in advance of the closing.

After the big pain points are addressed, we move to some secondary concerns like not being sure what to expect on the day of your closing or not feeling comfortable and welcome as soon as you arrive. We know that people like to feel prepared and confident when they come into a new situation so we send a warm welcoming letter and email, that includes a photo of the closer they will be working with and outlines the process. Each person who walks through our door receives a smile and a warm and friendly greeting right away. The best way we’ve found to discover our customers’ potential pain points is to make a list of what we didn’t like the last time we went through a purchase in our industry or to ask customers or prospects what they think are the most difficult or frustrating parts of the purchasing process.

Bring in your favorite things

Who hasn’t fantasized about being an audience member during one of Oprah’s Favorite Things episodes? For me, the only thing more exciting than finding a new gadget, trinket or treat that I love is sharing it with my customers. With regulations and rules around gifting, this is one area where we need to be a little careful, but even in industries like ours there is room to bring fun finds to our customers.

We are on a constant hunt for trinkets to make the closing experience more exciting. From TitleSmart reading glasses, to liven up the process of going through the paperwork, to branded notebooks, lotion, colorful writing tools and treats; we always bring something new and unexpected to the table. Not only is it a pleasant surprise for customers, but branded merchandise is proven to help brand messages last longer, and create loyalty. The question we ask ourselves to help come up with these new ideas is: “What is something that delights me that I could bring to my customers?”

Map out the whole journey 

Many people don’t think about the closing process when starting on their home buying or selling journey. That’s one of the reasons why it is so important for us to recognize what has happened before our customers meet with us and what they’ll likely be facing after their closing. Armed with an in-depth understanding of where our customers have come from and where they’re headed, we can add in processes and touch points that add value to the overall experience of closing on a property. Viewing our customers’ experience as a complete journey has led us to find new and better ways to proactively communicate, helping them understand what to expect before, during and after working with us.

We reach out directly and indirectly with tools like email, social media, radio appearances and newsletters. We have also added in extra meaningful touches, like a relaxing and calming closing environment and a celebratory photo of clients after their closing. These additional actions demonstrate that we recognize what they’ve gone through to get to the closing table and share in the excitement of their new chapter ahead. The exercise of mapping out all of the steps our customers go through and what they might be feeling during each phase of the purchase helps us to stay focused on what they need or want from their interactions with us.

Guarantee Consistency with Practices and Processes

When we find something that wows our customers we make sure we deliver that same experience to every person who comes through our doors. We dig in to develop the repeatable practices and processes that create consistency. Some of the processes we’ve added to our day-to-day business activities are making freshgourmet coffee and baking cookies throughout the business day, reviewing and ordering trinkets on a monthly basis, and stocking the closing room with supplies and treats before each closing. We line up vendors who deliver the same standards we want for our customers and train each of our employees on all of the TitleSmart touches that have become so important to our business. It takes time and attention to ensure the customer experience is delivered dependably, but the upfront investment results in the constant delivery of the outstanding closings TitleSmart is known for.

These are just a few of the tools we use at TitleSmart to stay focused around innovating for our customers. This is a topic that I am passionate about. It embodies why I chose to start my businesses and what drives me to grow TitleSmart to serve more customers. I enjoy sharing ideas and thoughts about customer experience and would love to hear from you about what you’re doing to create exceptional customer experiences with your business.

Cindy Koebele
Cindy is the president and owner of TitleSmart, Inc., where she leads a talented and growing team to deliver the best closing experiences to clients across the Twin Cities metro area. Cindy’s constant pursuit of new ways to wow customers has earned her several awards, including being named one of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s Women in Business Honorees in 2015 and a 2015 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner in the Upper Midwest in the Insurance Services Category.
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