Charging clients for a higher level of service is one of the fastest ways to make a greater profit in your design business. But it also comes with greater responsibility. When you charge clients a higher price than your competitors, they have a set of expectations that they bring with them. They expect to receive a more intuitive and thoughtful experience, to have more of the work done for them, and to get more personalized attention. It becomes a bit of an unspoken agreement between client and business. We’ll pay more, if you provide more. And not just in terms of the superior product or service you’re selling. But in the entire experience.
So, how do you make sure that you’re providing the clients with an experience great enough to justify charging them more? Here’s the top 5 ways to start providing greater service right now.
1. Be timely
Getting work done quickly is essential for keeping clients happy. If clients email or call with a question, respond quickly. Within a few hours is ideal or at least by the end of the business day. (If a client emails or calls on a weekend, it’s fine to wait until first thing Monday morning). If you know that what they’re asking needs more time to take care of, let them know you got their call or email and are working on it. And let them know when they can expect to hear back from you. Then make sure you follow up on that promise.
And if you let your client know they can expect something from you within a certain time frame, try to have it ready a little faster. Always under promise and over deliver. Need 5-6 weeks to prepare for your design presentation? Tell them it will be 6 to 7 weeks. That way you’ll impress them with how fast you are. But, if an emergency happens and you need to push it to 7 weeks, they’re prepared for that.
2. Keep Your Clients Updated
Clients like to be in the know. If the client is waiting for the next phase or meeting for more than two weeks, reach out to them with a quick email or call. Let them know the project’s progress or to confirm the next meeting. No need to be in constant contact. No one has time for that. Or wants that. But a quick update here and there is always appreciated.
Because a lot of customer frustration comes from waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Taking control of client contact keeps you, well, in control. Clients learn that you’re managing the project well, and don’t need to worry about constantly reaching out to find out what’s going on. They know you’ve got that covered.
3. Let Clients Know What to Expect
Before any client meeting, let clients know what to expect and if there’s something they need to prepare. Give them a quick phone briefing on what the meeting will entail, and then a follow up email with another quick break down. Tell them, “Just in case you didn’t have a chance to write the details down, I’ll send you an email with everything.”
And to save time, create an email template for each step in your process. Then just copy and paste that into your customer’s email. That way, every one comes prepared and ready to tackle the subject of the meeting.
4. Be Consistent
Being consistent is one of the fastest ways to gain a client’s trust and respect. If you’re consistent in how quickly you respond to clients, consistent in how you treat clients (no matter which employee a client encounters), consistent in being on time for meetings, consistent in reminding clients about upcoming meetings, you’ll be sure to stand out. Few things are more comforting and more rare, than a business who is extremely consistent in the way they serve their clients.
5. Stay Calm and Creative
Another essential when delivering superior service is the ability to stay calm. And consequently, staying creative. Stress makes us dumb. It’s like shutting off every creative intelligent bone in your body, and running on survival mode. It’s the fight or flight instinct. You’re no longer able to think. You just make a gut instinct to lash out or run. Not exactly helpful when running a business that has a lot of stressful moments.
So when your client asks too much of you, or the contractor never showed up, or the dining chairs show up with the wrong finish, or in the middle of your presentation the power goes out, do your best to stay calm. Because the more calm you are, the more creative you are. The moment you start yelling, or blaming, you start losing your ability to come up with solutions. And like we talked about a couple weeks ago, often times we impress our clients most when they see how well we deal with an awful situation.
Systems & Processes Make Clients Happy
You may notice that none of the above are about being extravagant in your spending towards clients. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to keep most clients happy. Sure it’s nice here and there, and occasionally you may have to cover the cost of a mistake. But what high profit clients really expect is for you to have a series of systems and processes in place to take great care of them. For you to take the time to understand who they are, what about the design process is stressful for them, and putting in a series of systems to ease that stress for them.
And as you learn to master these 5 skills above, you can continue to add even more to your client service. You can learn to make the experience enjoyable, personalized, and extremely thought out in ways that are as unique as your client. And with each new step, you can charge a bit more.
So when you’re considering how to make more money in your current business by creating your own fabric line, monetizing your blog, or gaining sponsorship, consider some simpler ideas as well. Like delivering more service, for greater profits, and greater client happiness.
If you’d like even more ideas on how to provide greater service for greater profits, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org find out more!