What’s the number one source of referrals for your business? I ask this question to every new interior designer I work with and the answer is almost always former clients. If that’s true for you doesn’t it make sense that you should put all your energy into creating an outstanding client experience? We are bombarded with information about paid ads, the best social media platform, networking and website content. These are all important to you as a business owner but if you prefer that your clients are coming to you via past client referrals then you should be paying the most attention to creating an A+ service.
STEPS TO CREATE AN OUTSTANDING CLIENT EXPERIENCE
1. fully understand your own process
One thing I can say with certainty is that interior designers understand the design process inside and out. Sometimes it’s instinctual, sometimes it was learned in school and often it’s a mix of both.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for the client experience. When I ask what their client journey looks like most designers can’t answer that question. It reverts back to discussions around the design.
It’s not complicated which is usually a welcome insight. It might also surprise you to know there are really only 4 stages involved in the client journey:
- THE INQUIRY PHASE
- THE ONBOARDING PHASE
- THE DESIGN EXECUTION PHASE
- THE OFFBOARDING PHASE
You can rename the stages to suit you but this is how the client perceives their journey with you. That’s what you need to keep in mind.
The client experience is not the design journey. It’s the service journey.
2. CREATE A FULLY FLESHED OUT PROCESS
Now that you’re thinking in terms of the client, you need to understand how they interact with you from beginning to end.
Here are a few questions to help you create the step-by-step process.
- How easy is it for a client to learn about you and your business?
- How easy is it for a client to book a call or make an inquiry?
- Do you take the lead on the discovery call and then later in meetings?
- Are you able to fully explain your company policies?
- Do you explain your entire process to your client so they know what to expect?
- Do you have a standard weekly method of communication?
If you can answer these questions quickly and easily, you have an outstanding client experience. If you suddenly feel overwhelmed, you probably need to do some work here.
NOT FEELING CONFIDENT ABOUT THOSE AWKWARD MONEY DISCUSSIONS WITH CLIENTS? READ THIS POST
3. CREATE YOUR STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES
After you’ve created the roughed out client process you need to think about your own company policies and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
These are your guidelines in your business that dictate how your business is run and how you interact with clients.
Having great SOPs means you can bring on employees. They can seamlessly take on parts of your workload. There’s never confusion about how you work or interact with clients.
More importantly though is that you have a set of rules around the client experience that will benefit all of you.
Here are a few ways SOPs will work in your business:
- Non-negotiable pricing and payment terms
- Create standard change forms for additional work (stop scope creep)
- Implement standard policy around revisions
- Standard timelines for approvals on design work
4. AUTOMATE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
The final step to create an outstanding client experience is in automating whatever you can. This will benefit you through time savings. You aren’t recreating steps in every client project.
It also benefits your client and respects their time.
Look for emails and documents that you deliver to every client and automate it. Create downloadable documents, email templates and standard guides.
Can you see the difference between your design process and the client process? And hopefully you’re able to see how creating this will turn your clients in your best source of referrals for your business.
Want some help creating this client journey? I have three ways I can help you – a 90-minute strategy session, a 5-hour block of time or The Elevated Process, a 30-day program.
WANT MORE INFORMATION? I’ve created a guide outlining the important touchpoints in the client journey. Download your copy.