Giveaway for 1 Ticket to LuAnn Live & VIP Breakfast
This week we’re going to start off with a real bang as there are lots of exciting things happening around here! First, the opportunity to win 1 complementary ticket to the LuAnn Nigara Live Event & to the VIP Breakfast! The event is from March 30th to April 1st in Short Hills, NJ and is going to be absolutely amazing. It’s going to be 2 1/2 days chock full of incredible and actionable advice from LuAnn herself, your fellow interior designers, Power Talk Friday guests, & more! It’s really a once in a lifetime opportunity to take your business to the next level.
And as I’m a sponsor, I get the amazing opportunity to give away 1 free ticket! So, if you have been wanting to go but have been unsure about buying a ticket, here’s your opportunity! Click here to enter before March 4th when it ends! Good luck & I hope to see you there!
In other exciting news, I’ve also partnered up with mydoma studio to hold a webinar where we’ll be focusing on “How to Handle Tough Conversations and Conflicts with Clients.” It’s going to be an action packed hour full of takeaways, action items, scripts, and opportunities for you to ask questions. If you’d like to take part, it’s going to be next Thursday, February 28th 1 PM EST. Click here to register.
The 10 Principles of an Impeccable Client Experience
Now, onto our regularly scheduled post! In last week’s post, we discussed 5 of the 10 principles of an impeccable client experience, told through my time at Weston’s dentist’s office. They’re the principles that are really the foundation of a great experience, and where you should start working if you’re just now developing your client service plan. So, let’s do a quick review of what they are before we finish up the list.
1. Prepare your customers/Set expectations – Let clients know from the beginning how they can prepare, and what they can expect throughout the project.
2. Understand your customer’s limitations – Know what stresses your customers out about working with you and try to prevent it.
3. Understand your customer’s concerns – Know what worries and concerns your clients about working with a designer. And try to put them at ease by addressing FAQ before they’re even asked.
4. Well trained staff – Make sure that your staff is extremely aware, confident, and knowledgeable about the process, your design firm, and how they’re expected to take care of clients.
5. Plan every moment – Few monumentally amazing experiences come from a lack of planning. As you well know, every home, garden, party, or wedding that you’ve ever been amazed by, was only possible through incredibly precise and detailed planning. The client experience is the same. It never just happens on accident.
Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the last 6-10 principles of an impeccable client experience.
I could talk about consistency, and in a way have, until I’m blue in the face. Consistency is crucial for the success of a client experience. Consistency in what way? Consistency in everything. In the way that clients are treated, in the level of service provided, in the attention and care given to each client and their concerns, in the way an office looks, etc.
If one link had been missing in this experience at the dentist’s office, naturally it wouldn’t have been as wonderful. Or memorable. But, there wasn’t. There’s a reason why this dentist has 141, 5 star reviews on Google. Because there was no missing or weakest link. Every portion of that experience worked together beautifully to create a whole.
Just as it is in design, a chair is not just a chair. And a console table is not just a console table. It is a piece of a whole. That when they’re all placed together, it’s a magically designed symphony. The same is with the client experience. If there’s a crucial piece missing or ignored, or that just isn’t working right, if there is an inconsistency somewhere, the effect isn’t the same. The orchestra isn’t quite as beautiful or magical. So to really make sure that client experience you deliver truly is a symphony, you have to make sure the experience is as consistently incredible as possible.
No matter what day a client catches you, or your staff, or what issue arises, or what phase of the project you’re in, you want to deliver it consistently well. You want and need that client to see that you and your staff are doing everything in your power to do the absolute best job possible, every step of the way, every day of the week.
7. Counter Typical Industry Problems
Every industry has their typical problems and corresponding complaints from the public. They never show up on time, or sometimes don’t show up at all. They’re not trustworthy. They’re just trying to push products that make them money. The list goes on. And a lot of the complaints are shared from one industry to the next.
So your job is to consider what the typical complaints are for the design industry and how you can eliminate them. Like, how do you help clients understand that your job isn’t to blow past the budget, throw away all of their current furniture, not listen to their wants, be extremely unreachable, and be completely organized? Think it out, plan it out, and put things in place now to show your clients that you’re not going to be the “typical” experience they’ve heard about.
Now for dentists common complaints are, they recommend procedures that aren’t necessary, the wait in both the waiting room and the chair is far too long, they don’t really listen to you, and there’s too much time with the dental assistant and way too little time with the dentist. This dentist of course countered all of that. He knew what common complaints were for the dental industry, and worked hard to make sure none of those complaints were true in his office. Almost no wait time at all, the visit with the actual dentist was plenty lengthy, he asked multiple times if I had any concerns, and made sure to explain everything in laymen’s terms.
What can you do to achieve the same goal for your design clients?
8. Entertain Your Customers
This is something that I haven’t spoken about as much because it’s really one of those client experience principles that you only tackle once everything else is already accomplished. Once you’ve gotten your systems and processes down, you’re prepping your clients and setting the right expectations, you understand your customer’s limitations and concerns, and planned every moment, then you can focus on one of the last priorities, entertaining your clients. It’s really like the highest point of the Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Except it’s the Hierarchy of a Great Client Experience. Entertaining your clients and making sure they actually enjoy working with you should only come after you’ve completed all the other steps before it.
If you get to this level, you have very little competition left. Maybe only 1% of businesses every really get to this point. Where they’re doing things so well, that they are willing to go all the way to entertainment. Even though they’re not in the entertainment industry.
Well, this office of course was at the highest point of the client experience hierarchy. There was entertainment left and right. And not just in the form of screens, as they know that parents aren’t always a fan of more screens. Instead, there was memorabilia, entertainment, and things to catch the eye every step of the way. As soon as you walked in, you were greeted by a golden Mickey Mouse, then a to scale Batman, an aquarium, a kinetic roller coaster, the list goes on. For the two minutes we were in the waiting room, Weston was more than occupied. And then once we were invited back to the chairs and rooms, the entertainment didn’t stop. There were decals from every Disney movie there’s ever been, on every wall there was. And in a few months they will literally entertain everyone with a free movie at a local movie theater.
Being entertained was a very clear goal. And can be a goal for your firm as well when you reach that level. What can you do to entertain? Host events at a local museum? Hold a performing arts class for your clients? Create interesting videos as part of your design presentation? Create videos for your website? Everyone at every level loves to be entertained. So spend some time thinking about what you can do to entertain your clients.
9. Pamper your Customer
Pampering your customer is again not one of those things that’s crucial at the beginning of developing a client experience. If you have a chaotic and disorganized process and clients are always unaware of how their project is progressing, it’s not going to matter that you gave them a bottle of expensive champagne and chocolate covered strawberries at the reveal. It may actually irritate them. As they might feel like you’re brushing over the seriousness of the project upsets with some expensive booze. But, if you’re doing everything else right, pampering your clients, just like entertaining them, is a way to really move up to the next level of success.
At the dentist’s office this came in the form of a warm lemon scented towel for Weston to wipe his face and hands on at the end of the visit, animal themed sunglasses to wear when they were shining the light on his teeth, a treasure box of toys, and a foil balloon that said, “You’re the Best.” It literally was layer after layer of pampering.
What layers of pampering can you share with your clients? Hand written thank you notes or welcome gifts when clients first sign a contract and give you the retainer. A bouquet of flowers or hot soup delivered to their door when you know they’re sick. Bringing along a small box of food to their home for a lengthy design presentation. The list goes on. But one great thing to really do when it comes to pampering is, come up with a signature “extra” item. And then market that. Double Tree has warm chocolate chip cookies. Five Guys Burgers has free peanuts. Olive Garden has amazing free breadsticks. Sometimes this is literally what the business becomes really “known” for. So what signature item can you give as a free extra? A gorgeous neutral throw blanket? A basket of gourmet goodies? A delivery of Dom Perignon chocolate truffles? It doesn’t matter as much what it is. As much as it matters that you have one.
10. Invest in the Experience
The conclusion of all of this is, invest in the experience. If you want your clients to love and adore working with you, have them clamoring for more ways to work with you, and telling everyone they’ve ever met how wonderful you are, you have to invest in the experience. This dentist probably initially invested at least $10,000 in just design so his space would be kid friendly. And clearly continually invests his money and time by consistently training staff, providing gifts and balloons to children, keeping warm scented towels on hand, renting out an entire theater, etc. It’s a continual commitment to excellence and an experience. Again, from a dentist.
As a designer, it’s imperative for you to do the same. If a dentist can do it, and does it, so can you, and so should you. If a dentist can delight and entertain while also flossing your teeth, shining bright lights in your eyes, and shoving a swirling toothbrush with terrible tasting fluoride on it, then you can too. You’re creating a dream of beauty. You can also create a dream of an experience.
So be the designer that goes above and beyond. Be the designer that puts forth more effort. That invests more in her business. That realizes that a beautifully designed space at the end isn’t enough. That an experience needs to come with it. And when it does? You can charge more. You can get the projects and profits you want. You can reach the kind of clients you’re dreaming of. You can move to that level you always wanted but never knew how to reach. You can create a tribe of clients that will follow you over an entire lifetime. If you only give them a great experience.
If you’d like even more ideas on how to provide the kind of client service that gets you higher fees and profits, visit the Services page to find out more!