As a follow up to our post last week, today we’re focusing on using an efficient process to take someone from being a prospect all the way to a client at the end of a project. To do that is rarely easy, and rarely straightforward. But the more straightforward and simple you can make it, the more enjoyable it will be for everyone. So let’s get down to deciding if your processes are efficient are not.
How Efficiently Are You Working?
First, write down your entire design process from beginning to end. From your perspective, meaning, all the work you do from beginning to end. So that may mean a screening call, then a first meeting (either paid or not), then asking them to sign a contract and pay the retainer fee, and on and on until the project is complete. When you’ve written it all dow , really look at it and decide. Does it make sense? Does it seem efficient? Is there a way to cut out steps, or combine meetings to simplify matters? Is there any way you could start incorporating technology more to make things more efficient? Could you use email instead of mail for contracts to make things more efficient? Could you create templates to use for standard follow up/update emails to clients and then just fill in the personal information each time? Could you create a series of follow up reminders for yourself at the beginning of each client project, rather than having to remember “oh yeah, I need to set up another meeting” every single time?
How Efficiently Is Your Customer Working?
Now do the same thing for your client. Write down the entire customer journey (every interaction that a customer has with a business from beginning to end.) Write down every step a client goes through with your business. From the first contact, to the very last moment they see you, write it all down. And decide if, from a customer’s perspective, anything could be removed. Could any meetings be combined into one meeting instead of two? Would it be more efficient if you had some pricing ready at your design presentation, instead of saving all of the pricing for after they’ve approved the design? Would it be more efficient to have any clients that don’t want to sign the contract at the end of the first meeting, come in for a “answer any last questions and sign the paperwork” meeting? Rather than having them email you a million times asking more and more questions, and dragging their feet on sending the contract in? If you were your own client, would you be impressed with the efficiency of your design process, or irritated by it?
When I wrote down the process of the asphalt company I spoke of last week, the number of steps to hire them was 6. For most businesses that are doing service work, there are 2-3 steps. The steps usually are, you call and ask for them to come out and give an estimate, they come out and leave a bid behind, and you call and set it up. That’s it. There’s really no need for any more steps. And the more steps you have, the more opportunities you have for customers to lose interest. And get irritated.
Compare Your Processes, Are They Still Efficient?
Now that you’ve written down the design process from beginning to end from your perspective, and from the customer’s, put them side by side and compare them. As one obviously affects the other. The customer calls you, so you set up a meeting. And after you have the meeting and they say yes, you ask for a signed contract. But you send it by mail, so then things slow down because the client has a lot of other things on their plate, and is slow to return it. You usually have to follow up multiple times to get them to send it back. And sometimes they only send the contract, but forget the check. So then you have to call them back to get the check. The entire process sets you back 3-4 weeks. Look at the cause and effect. How what you do affects the client, and how what the client does affects you. Are there any more inefficiencies that you see?
Another example may be that you realize during the process of taking someone from a prospect to a client, you talk to them on the phone for that first time, then set up another phone call to screen them further. Then you send them paperwork to fill out that asks a lot of the same questions you already asked on the phone calls. And then you meet and ask a lot of the same questions again in person. And you realize, maybe I can actually have the first call be the one and only screening call. And on that call, you can even ask them questions from your paperwork, so you can fill out the paperwork yourself. You just saved yourself, and the client, a lot of extra steps, and time.
Don’t be the Cable Company
Think of it this way. Do everything you can to avoid being the cable company. When you call a cable company, you get transferred to 3 or 4 different people, and you have to keep giving the same story over and over. By that 4th person, you’re ready to lose it. Because seriously, why do you keep getting transferred?! Why don’t they have any of the information you’ve told the other 3 people?! Why doesn’t anyone know what department you need to talk to?! You can’t take it anymore! The more steps a customer has to take to get what they need, the more irritated, frustrated, and irritated with the customer experience they’ll be. And the less likely they are to come back, or spend any more money, or refer you to anyone.
So, let’s all make sure that the process from first contact to last contact is the fastest, most efficient, fewest steps possible, for all parties involved. Because when you do, that means more referrals, more projects, more time, more profits.
If you’d like even more help making sure your systems are just as efficient for your customers as they are for you, go here to find out how!