Maintain transparency. As a service-based tech business, I work with a variety of systems, tools, and technologies that support workflow design and marketing automation. Many of my clients have no background or understanding of these tools. It’s not unusual for my clients to be confused with what I can do and how I work. But it is important that they have an idea of what is happening and can trust that their systems are working. This is why I always keep a transparent and collaborative project management system using Asana and system documentation on GDrive that outlines exactly what I have created. This is accessible to everyone on the project.
As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsay Kirsch. Lindsay is an expert in workflow design and marketing automation strategy. Lindsay works with clients on identifying opportunities to save time and money while increasing their revenues.
With certifications as a Professional Behavior Analyst, Knowledge Management Professional, and a Six Sigma Greenbelt. Lindsay has been featured on the ActiveCampaign blog and podcast and in TD Magazine. As a global consultant, she has been hired by iconic brands such as AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, and the University of Phoenix to increase their bottom line through technology.
Today, she is recognized internationally for her work in business expansion with entrepreneurs, founders, small business owners, and online influencers such as Buffie Purselle, Fast Forward Group, Design for Mankind and Elizabeth Rider.
You can learn more about Lindsay at www.lindsaykirsch.com.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been an entrepreneur! Do you remember the movie Napoleon Dynamite and the girl who was selling boondoggle door to door? That was totally me as a kid!
But really, I started my first business in high school designing activewear for gymnasts. A few local clubs allowed me to sell it at their competitions. I also sold my apparel on eBay.
From there, I moved into web design and eCommerce. It was always a side hobby, even after I graduated from college. My first “real” job was at AT&T developing eLearning programs. From there, I was in the corporate world for approximately 12 years working on process improvement projects that leveraged technology.
I excelled in the corporate world, but it didn’t fulfill me. I felt restricted, and I knew that I wasn’t reaching my full potential.
Entrepreneurship didn’t get serious for me until my marriage fell apart. I quickly fell into the role of a single mom with two young kids, going through a divorce.
I couldn’t mentally and physically keep up working in an office an hour and a half from home while working through my trauma. I was a mess.
I quit my job cold turkey and decided to step up. I wanted to show my kids that I could do what I love and make just as much money (or more!) than I did in the corporate world. It was “go” time.
Leaving corporate was the best leap I ever took. While it was not easy, in any way (I worked more hours starting my own business than I ever did in the office), I was passionate about the business I was creating.
Now I get to spend my days focused on my passion for developing workflows and automation that help my clients run their business more smoothly so that they can increase revenue, while not going crazy buried in unorganized, chaos.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Before I had a real office in my house, I used to go into my bedroom for conference calls. One day, during a video interview with a potential customer, my daughter ran into my room, completely naked, with clown makeup all over her face, yelling and looking for her bathing suit.
At the time, I was mortified. Looking back it was hilarious, (and she will never live it down)!
After that incident, I decided not to hide from my kids during calls. They are the main reason I do what I do, and my clients understand that.
Thankfully my kids are a bit older now and more respectful of my conference calls — plus, I now have a proper home office and no longer take important calls in my bedroom!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
As ironic as it sounds, I would like to thank my former husband.
Being an entrepreneur has always been in my blood, but I never felt that it was a safe or responsible choice when having a family. It was too scary to even consider going without a steady paycheck, health insurance, and bonuses.
Becoming a single mom and going through a really ugly divorce forced me into being the woman I really wanted to be — a woman I was fully capable of being — for both me and my kids.
I’m also thankful for myself. I’ve continued to work on stepping up, being brave and pushing myself to my full potential.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and great customer experience is essential for success in business?
The relationship that you have with your customers is no different from the relationship you have with your family and friends.
You have to treat each other with respect.
When I am working with my customers to create more efficiency in their businesses, regardless of size, industry, revenue, or structure, I want them to feel as if they are working with a person, not a business.
I get to know my customers personally, including their family, hobbies, and what is most important to them. The success of their business has a direct relationship to their lives. If my work allows them to get back time for what’s important to them, then I have done my job.
Some of the success stories from my clients include:
- A digital product launch that had no technical difficulties for the first time ever, which allowed the client to enjoy her weekend with her son, instead of spending it answering support emails.
- A workflow for a service-based consultant that reduce both her and her team’s responsibilities, so that the entire office, could take Mondays and Fridays off in the summer.
- An automated scheduling system, that allowed a software developer to continue to build focus on the customer experience of the software rather than getting bogged down with scheduling meetings.
I believe that a business that does not respect its customers will never reach its full potential, regardless of the idea or opportunity.
Conversely, a business that treats its customers with respect; will grow exponentially.
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
When looking back on negative customer experiences of my past, there is usually a link between the individuals involved and their personal connection to the company for which they work.
If an employee is not connected with their company, and especially their position (via mission, vision, and core values), they are not going to provide the magnetic energy that is intuitively supportive of a customer.
An employee who is deeply aligned with the company mission, vision and core values will find it natural to provide delightful customer experience and be intrinsically motivated to do so.
This is why it is imperative to go beyond knowledge and skills when hiring employees and ensure that anyone you hire is aligned with your mission, vision and core values.
Various assessment tools, such as TTI Success Insights Trimetrix EQ, can support you in learning more about your team members and what makes them tick.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
I do not think you can force a company to improve the customer experience. I think it has to come from core values at the top of an organization and work its way down into the everyday company culture. The leaders have to believe that customer experience matters, even more than the product or service they offer.
Any type of force; externally or internally isn’t going to be constructive. Forcing action causes negativity which will ultimately be distributed back to the customer.
I see other automation experts that believe “everything can be automated.” But I’m very against this philosophy.
It’s important to take a step back, review the goals you would like to achieve and then determine what is the best workflow to achieve these goals. Maybe it includes automation, but sometimes it does not. It’s important to recognize what is strategically aligned before trying to force a business into a tool or methodology.
Can more competition help force companies to improve? Potentially, but only if they are open and willing to look at the success factors for their competition and be willing to honestly evaluate themselves against them.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
Just this past year, I was contacted by an individual who needed assistance with a product launch implementation using ActiveCampaign, an area where I could provide support.
The problem was that her current technical consultant made a complete mess of the project, and left the project work unfinished. This left the client scrambling — with a big launch coming up, they didn’t have a system in place to handle it. She wasn’t even sure if she could move forward with the launch plan.
By recognizing that this client would need to take a different approach, I rolled up my sleeve and got to work determining what was currently happening in the system, what needed to happen in the system, and where the gaps were.
As I worked through each component of the system, I maintained total transparency of what was happening both through a project tracking tool and system documentation. This allowed the client to know exactly what I was doing and when as well as where I was getting stuck, and where I was making progress.
Slowly, with each win, I built more trust with my client.
In the end, the client felt they had an incredible system that they understood inside and out. It was organized, and user-friendly.
This approach was extremely successful and met the launch deadline, producing the most launch revenue to-date.
The client received exactly what they were looking for and have since become one of the biggest advocates for my brand.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
As mentioned above, this individual has become a huge advocate for my brand. Not only has she provided written and video testimonials, but she has also provided reference, and referred multiple new clients to my business.
The success of providing an extraordinary customer experience has created a huge ripple effect in just a few months; I’m looking forward to seeing how this will continue over the next few years.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Maintain transparency
As a service-based tech business, I work with a variety of systems, tools, and technologies that support workflow design and marketing automation. Many of my clients have no background or understanding of these tools. It’s not unusual for my clients to be confused with what I can do and how I work. But it is important that they have an idea of what is happening and can trust that their systems are working. This is why I always keep a transparent and collaborative project management system using Asana and system documentation on GDrive that outlines exactly what I have created. This is accessible to everyone on the project.
2. Keep clear and consistent communications
Along with a collaborative project management tool, I use a variety of other communications styles to confirm clarity and consistency. This includes:
● Project and task tracking in Asana so that the client always knows what I’m working on each day.
● System documentation in GDrive so that the client has a clear understanding of the system set-up and how to use it.
● Weekly project progress summaries via email so that if a client doesn’t want all of the task detail, they know the high-level plan.
● Weekly (or as-needed) stakeholder meetings that are either in-person or via Zoom video conference to keep my clients up-to-date and aware of the project accomplishments and also gives us the opportunity to talk through any problems.
3. Address problems as soon as they are exposed
It’s not unusual that a client comes to me after a negative experience with another consultant. In fact, most of my customers have had some type of problem in the past.
A lack of transparency and communications can cause a small problem, to quickly snowball into a larger one. And at that point, the project then becomes off schedule and over budget.
There is NOTHING worse than being stood up on a project or finding out that there is a problem when it’s way too late to resolve.
The LAST thing a customer needs is a problem that is going to cost additional time, money or resources to fix. Problems can be resolved much quicker, and with less pain, when they are exposed and worked out earlier rather than later.
By leveraging recommendations 1–2, you will already be on track to ensure transparency and clear communications. Exposing problems as soon as they are discovered, is the icing on an already awesome cake!
4. Open up and talk like a real person, not just someone trying to gain more business
Relationships, whether it’s with your family, friends, or a customer all need to have a variety of conversations. While most may be professional, some can also be personal.
Get to know your customers, and understand what is most important to them. Sometimes divulging the smallest personal detail can create a bond that increases trust.
Even though it’s personal, I’ve had more than one client say they want to work with me because I’m a single mom. The impression they get is that single moms are really good at managing and organizing chaos… and that’s just what they need!
5. Be honest and open
As a consultant, I often land projects that may be a bit of a stretch either for my own knowledge and skills or outside my general arena of work. Often times, these are my most favorite projects. They allow me to learn and grow as a consultant.
However, I never pretend to be able to do something in which I do not have experience or knowledge. I’ll be honest with a client, describe how I expect to handle a situation, and we go from there.
There is no faster way to lose trust than to make a promise you can’t keep.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
In my experience, customers that are delighted with my work, become natural advocates and promoters of my brand. They are willing to give testimonials, provide references, and send referrals my way without even asking.
I do recommend that you always ask for that testimonial and/or referral! You don’t have to wait until they offer.
Be upfront and say, “you seem really satisfied with our work together, would you mind providing me with a brief testimonial?”
Additionally, since I’m a workflow and automation expert, I always have some systems in place that help support me with the follow-up process!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I believe that when we help each other learn, we, in turn, build up our community and are actively creating a better world for all of us to live in.
My mission is to make running your business easier — leveraging systems, tools, and technology so that you can be out living your life. … isn’t that the reason you started?
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Medium!