Now first and foremost, although this blog will return to its original purpose of how to deliver an exceptional experience as a designer, like we talked about last week, the client experience is really about creating comfort, joy, and understanding for anyone and every one we meet. So this week, and every week, continue with that we shall.
And if you were waiting for the last minute reminder to snag up the course “Designing the Design Process: The Foundation of an Exceptional Client Experience“ at the sale price, it seemed inappropriate to mention it last week. So, I’ve extended the sale until now, but today is the last day! It’s been getting snatched up left and right as it’s 30% off, more than $100 off the usual price, and it’s unlikely that it will ever go back to this price again. So if you’ve been planning on getting it but just haven’t had the chance to yet, now is the time. Find out how to deliver the kind of experience your client is hoping for, here!
A Well Appointed House is a Well Appointed Experience
Now onto talking about a well appointed house, and experience! So despite my fear of driving 16 hours with a newborn, entering and exiting multiple already unclean gas stations during a pandemic, and thinking through the realities and logistics of getting food at a drive thru also during a pandemic, we recently took a trip to Florida.
Aaron’s family had just bought a lovely villa for everyone to share, and the house was ready and empty. So we decided to take a chance, and every precaution known to man, to get there. Sun, an empty pool, and the beach were waiting – and with Aaron working from home at least until September, we could even manage it without him taking vacation days.
So off we went. The drive was harrowing to say the least, due to well, a screaming newborn, a three year old terrified of wearing a mask into a gas station, a torrential rainstorm throughout the evening hours of driving, and my new found motion sickness and migraines. But, when we arrived, we were met with the most incredibly well appointed house you could imagine. Everything in its place, and a place for everything. It was amazing.
Every time you were in a space and thought to yourself, “I need _ .” Surprise, surprise, it was already there! Over and over and over again. “I need a N’espresso pod as I’m exhausted from Weston tapping my feet multiple times a night to check on my presence. Oh wait, it’s right here!” “I didn’t really check how much shampoo was left in my travel bottles and darn it, there’s barely anything left. Oh no worries, there’s lots of other amazing options right here!” “I need a laundry basket so I’m not just lugging piles of dirty, sandy laundry across the place. No worries, here it is!”
A Fine Tuned, and In Tune, Client Experience
It was 10 days full of finding everything, exactly where and when you needed it, without really even looking. It was comforting, calming, and basically just fantastic. Aaron and I kept saying that we wished we could stay. Move in. Make this place our home. And not only to avoid the dreaded drive home with Grace, which thankfully was worlds better, but also because it just felt really, really good to feel “understood” by the house. To have the house designed so incredibly well, and then organized so incredibly well, that your day wasn’t spent on the tasks of just finding and managing stuff. It was focused on enjoying the day.
As a designer, you know exactly what I mean. You’re designing homes so they can be used instinctively and without an enormous amount of thought focused on, where does this go, where should this go, where can I put this. You give your client the opportunity to have a logical place for everything, and have everything in its logical place. You allow them to free up their mind to spend their days on the living, not just the managing.
Designing a client experience is the same. When your client experience is fine tuned, and in tune, with what your clients need, at a certain time, in a certain moment, in a certain place, it just feels so natural to them. They feel understood. They feel comforted.
And, they feel ready to tackle the other things, the important things and tasks of working with you on a design project, rather than just the, “where do I sign, how do I login to this client portal, how do I pay, when will I see the next bill come through” logistics of working together. It’s a shift of mental focus and time from the “how to’s” of designing a space to the “how about’s” of designing a space.
Great Design Isn’t Noticeable, Bad Design Is
I once heard that you don’t notice great design, but you do notice bad design. Now not aesthetically of course, but rather in terms of functionality. When something is well designed, you don’t notice it because you don’t have to. It just, works. It’s designed to be a natural extension of what a person needs and how a person will expect something to work, and so it does. But when something is poorly designed, you notice it immediately because you’re forced to deal with it. It becomes something that takes your attention.
Take something as simple as a bottle of hand soap. You just bought it, and now you need to use it. A well designed pump means you turn the top, it unlocks, pops up, and you’re able to pump out soap. Simple as that, no thought required.
A poorly designed pump however, means it doesn’t pop up. The soap doesn’t come out. Then you’re spending time, energy, and thought opening the bottle, turning the pump this way and that, pushing down on the pump over and over, all in an effort to get that soap out. You’re forced to work around the bad design, rather than the design working around you. The client experience is the same.
Keep Your Clients from Thinking Too Much
When you’re designing your design process, and the corresponding client experience, you want to look at it and think, what will keep my clients from having to think too much at this stage? How can I design this step so incredibly well, that everything they’ll think, ask for, and need, is already provided for them? How can the process work around them, rather than them having to work around the process? Be your client, map out the process, think of what your client might be thinking.
And if you’re having a hard time figuring it out, listen to your clients. When they ask you a question, write it down and note in what stage that was asked. Then ask yourself if that’s a question other clients might have. If so, add a note to yourself that in the future, that question needs to be addressed at the beginning of that stage, before the client even has to ask you.
Next, ask your clients. Ask them at different stages in your process, is there any information that you need from me? Anything I can do to make this stage easier? Was anything long and complicated? Then again, listen, make notes, and make adjustments.
Remove the Hurdles of Working Together
A well appointed client experience means removing as many hurdles as possible in the race that it is to work with you. The more hurdles clients have to jump, the more energy they have to put forth, the more stressed they’ll be getting there. And thus, the more likely they are to find the experience of working together completely exhausting – even if they ultimately win the greatest prize, a jaw dropping space.
So take a look at each portion of your design process, and the client experience that corresponds with it, and think to yourself, what hurdles do my clients have to jump through to get to the next step? What in my process forces them to stop and deal with something for a moment, before they can move to the next step?
Maybe it’s that in order to schedule the initial consultation with you, they first have to pay via an emailed link. But paying by credit card isn’t an option, only ACH. So, they first have to link their bank account. Then, they have to check their account to ensure that it’s linked. Then, once it’s linked, they have go back, and pay. Then once they pay, they have to wait for a link to be manually sent to them to schedule their consultation. All of that, just to schedule that initial consultation.
Or you could just remove all of those hurdles, and just take payment over the phone, accept credit cards, and then schedule the consultation while they’re on the call. No need for work arounds and waiting, just straight forward movement.
An Exceptional Client Experience is Fluid
An exceptional client experience is fluid. It has few obstacles, few hurdles, few moments of, wait how do I…, when will this…, how will this…. oh darn I first have to… It naturally flows from one stage of the design process to the next, with few stops along the way. The tools and information are provided, as they’re needed. It’s not all given at the beginning as an overload, but it’s also not given in the midst of a stage when it’s already too late. Nope, everything is given, just the moment before it’s needed.
Because you know your clients, you understand your clients, and you anticipate what your clients will need, at the exact moment they’ll need it. And you’re there, ready, waiting, and prepared, to make working with you, as well appointed, as the homes you design.
And if you’re ready to start removing those hurdles and start providing an exceptionally well appointed client experience, you can do that here!