Guest on A Well-Designed Business Podcast
After much anticipation, I can finally announce that last Friday, March 15th, I was featured on LuAnn Nigara’s A Well-Designed Business podcast as her Power Talk Friday guest! As most people in the interior design industry know, LuAnn is one popular lady. So even though they accepted me as a guest last November, my interview was at the end of January and then the episode was just released. So I’ve been waiting for this exciting moment for awhile!
On the episode, LuAnn and I talk about what a high end client experience is for a designer, what the foundations of it are, when to start laying on luxury, and when to just focus on the basics. And so much more. It was such a joy and honor. And the episode is just chock full of ideas on ways to really take your design firm and client experience to the next level. To listen to the episode, you can go here.
And for those of you who have now joined us after hearing the podcast, a very warm welcome to you! We’re so excited and happy to have you!
Make Your Clients Feel Important & Heard
Now on to this week’s topic, how to make clients feel special. Now I know that “how to make clients feel special” sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s so important when developing your client experience. People want to feel special. Everyone. No matter how rich, poor, young, old, male, female, whatever, everyone wants to feel special. So taking the time to make clients feel special pays huge dividends.
Now how do you go about making clients feel special? Well, there are a lot of ways. But, just like we discussed on the podcast, let’s start with the essentials. They’re two simple, but very important ideas, using your client’s name and really listening. Now I know these both seem very obvious and like, really? Do you need to tell me this? But, sometimes it’s the simple things that we need to be reminded of. We focus so much on the big, elaborate things that we forget that simply listening and using someone’s name can be truly powerful when interacting with a client.
Hearing Your Own Name is Better than a Taste of Chocolate
First, let’s focus on names. As Dale Carnegie said in his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” It’s so true. When someone forgets our name, mispronounces our name, or doesn’t address us by name, it can be a bit disappointing or sometimes even irritating. Especially if you’ve seen that person multiple times.
Now of course with a client you’re going to remember their name, but it’s important to remember to understand how to pronounce their last name if it’s a difficult one. It’s important to use their name when addressing them in emails. When greeting them on the phone and when writing a thank you card. Because it will make them feel special. And this rings true for literally everyone. Even when I ask my 2 and a half year old, Weston “Would you rather me call you sweetheart or sweetie pie?”, his answer is, “Call me Weston.” Even at 2, his name is important to him. When your work is published, when you’re mentioned in an article, when someone shares your post, aren’t you always just scrolling to find your own name? Everyone does. So remember, your clients feel the same. They love hearing their name, seeing their name, and knowing that you can pronounce their name. It truly makes them feel special.
Listen to Clients Like They’re the Only Person in the World
Now, listening. Listening will make clients feel just as special as when you use their name, remember their name, or write their name. But it has to be completely, totally, fully focused listening. Not listening with a phone in one hand, not listening while looking the other way, but in tune, eye to eye listening. Because with so many distractions today, showing your clients that you’re really listening to them and their concerns, wants, etc. allows you a fast track to their heart. No matter how high end.
So when your clients are telling you about their day, or about the dream they have for their kitchen, or why they’re stressed out about work, take time to really listen to them. And it’s important to give them your full attention. You don’t want to miss any details of what they’re saying as they’ll notice you’re distracted, and you may miss important information that’s important to your project.
Sometimes clients will even talk in a stream of consciousness way and say, “Ugh, today was a tough day. My boss has been gone for the last week and my most important client was wanting… Oh by the way I decided that I’d like to go ahead with the more expensive sofa you showed me. But anyways, my most important client was….” Now if your mind started going elsewhere, you might have missed that important detail. Now yes, the client should have put more focus on it, but unfortunately we can’t always control that. And if you ask the client later which sofa she chose she might say or at least think, “I already told you that. Weren’t you listening?”
Really taking the time to listen to your clients and what they have to say is a way to genuinely make them feel special, heard, and cared for. Sometimes one of the greatest compliments we give to people, especially professionals that we assume won’t listen to us because they’re too busy, is “I felt like she really listened to me.” So take that as a huge clue as to how high of a priority listening skills are to a client.
Lastly, listening to clients is also a huge opportunity to go above and beyond. Maybe while you’re at a client’s home a client accidentally breaks a vase and they’re pretty upset. They tell you it was their favorite vase and they got it ten years ago to celebrate purchasing that house. You make note of what you remember of its size and shape, maybe say, “Oh no! Where did you get it?” And then once you leave, you get to work to see if you can google the heck out of that thing and find a replacement. Or at least something close. Send it to the client and see just how special they feel. Incredibly so. Wouldn’t you? If a business cared so much that they were willing to spend the time, money, and care into replacing a meaningful item for you even though they weren’t involved at all? Now that’s a service experience. All made possible because you really listened to what a client was telling you.
Make Clients Feel Special By Noticing Who They Are
Now, how do we make clients feel special in other ways? In ways that are a bit more pampery? Well, there’s oodles and oodles of things you can do. Write handwritten thank you notes to clients after they sign your LOA. Send them chicken noodle soup when they’re feeling sick. Taking them out for lunch to celebrate their birthday. Sending them a box of champagne truffles when they share big news with you. It’s about investing time and attention into your clients. You want to notice the details in their home not just for design clues, but also into clues about who they are. “I noticed that you have lots of books on … how did you get interested in that? I noticed that you have lots of photos from your travels. What has been your favorite place?”
But if you notice, most of those things are also about listening again. You can only take a client out for their birthday, if you listened when they told you. And you can only know that a client is sick, if you listened when they told you. Tangible gifts and treating clients to experiences are the same. You can only personalize them if you listen to the interests that your clients share with you.
In fact I encourage all of the designers I work with to create a profile for each and every client they have noting their favorite drink, hobbies, travel location, etc. Then you can use that to sprinkle on the love and pampering whenever you’d like. And sometimes it’s just making a quick note that you don’t bring attention to when the client shares it, but you know, “I can use this to surprise them later!” You told me your favorite flower is a gardenia, noted! I’ll send you a bouquet of them when we finish the project.
Your Time & Attention Are the Greatest Luxury A Client Can Receive
Because in this day and age where everyone’s attention and time are going a million different ways, it feels like a true honor to get all of it from someone. To have someone who takes time to understand how to pronounce your difficult last name, who takes the time to really focus and listen to what you’re saying, to really pay attention to what you love and are interested in, to genuinely get all of that from someone, that feels like a real luxury. So take the time to let your clients know you care for them not just as a client, but as a person. Show them how special they are to you. And they’ll know you and your design firm are incredibly special too.
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 Client Service Consultation page to find out more!