First of all, I apologize for my long time blogging absence! It’s been a whirlwind of work, taking care of sick Weston, taking care of my own sickness, and taking care of lots of administrative family matters. But I’m back thankfully! So let’s get on with it!
Doing the work for your client. You’re probably thinking, all I do is work for my client. And it’s a LOT of work. Now I have no doubt that’s true. But let’s consider for a moment doing a little bit more. Because one of the best ways to actually do less work, is by doing more work for your client from the beginning.
Less Client Work Means Less Client Stress
Ever called a cable company and they told you to call a different department? Then gave you the number and hung up? They didn’t transfer you, didn’t seek out an associate in that department and explain your situation to them and then transfer you, they just gave you the number and hung up. Would have been nice to get a little extra help from them, wouldn’t it? Especially in a time where you’re already high stress. Calling a cable company is about equivalent to doing your taxes. It’s something you put off for as long as possible because it’s just that horrifying of an experience.
When you’re designing someone’s home, it can be pretty similar. At some point during the process, the client is stressed. Sometimes REALLY stressed. They’re paying a lot of money, giving up a lot of control, maybe living in a mess, and waiting a lot. And then sometimes they take it out on you. So let’s discuss what to do lessen that possibility.
A Little Creative Thinking Can Solve A Lot of Repeat Customer Issues
Sometimes taking a little bit of work off your client’s shoulders takes a bit of thought and creativity. Think through your design process, and write down what you get calls and questions about often. What moments cause a lot of your client’s headaches, and yours? Why? What can you possibly put in place to make that problem go away? Not just after it happens. But prevent it from happening at all.
Let’s say your an e-designer. Your customers struggle with providing measurements and photos, and you get a lot of emails between the purchasing the e-design package stage and the submitting information stage. What can you do to help them along? Give them very well defined templates to fill in. Give them examples of what a completed template should look like. Explain it in multiple ways. Maybe even provide them with a step by step video? Do whatever you can to make it easy as possible for them, which makes it easier for you.
Or when you send your shopping list at the end, think about giving more than just links to a product. For their bigger investment pieces, see if you can find a direct contact at that company so the customer has someone to call with any questions. Or even spend a few minutes searching for promo codes for a few items so you can share a quick and easy way to save money.
If you’re a full service designer and you’re ending your project, do what you can to ease the transition from them relying on your expertise to them being “alone” with their new furniture. Put all of their warranty information in one place. Inform them of how to best care for everything. Share what you think are the best cleaning products. Let them know what to do in case some disaster happens to their furniture even if it’s 5 years down the road. Someone throws up on the linen sofa, a new puppy shreds the corner of the grass cloth covered table, the next door neighbor throws a water balloon on your silk drapes, etc. And if the pieces are expensive enough, such as fine art, maybe suggest getting insurance. Keep them from feeling overwhelmed and intimidated by taking care of furniture that may be nicer than any they’ve ever owned.
Proactively Addressing Client Concerns is More Efficient than Reacting to Them
Doing the extra work for your client is, yes, extra work. But it’s also working efficiently. It’s thinking ahead to understand what clients are concerned about. Then creating a solution that you can share with them. Which allows you to reap the benefits of not having to tell different clients over and over the same solution. The more time you spend creating a list of recommended cleaning products and local upholstery cleaners for your client now, the less time you’ll later spend explaining to a client how to save an all white couch that’s been covered in permanent marker. And the more renowned you’ll become amongst potential clients, as the designer who not only solves current problems, but future ones too.
If you’d like even more help thinking of creative ways to proactively help your clients, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how!