The other day while Aaron was excitedly trying his first pumpkin spice latte from a local coffee shop, he took a sip and then said, “Hmm, I think it’s really good, but it’s a little hard to tell because all I can smell is the marker.” “What do you mean?” I said, and he tipped his coffee forward to show me the top of his lid, where they had written his order. So each time he brought the coffee to his lips, his nose went directly into the odor of the Sharpie, over, and over, and over again. Each time he wanted to take a sip, he also was forced to smell that sharp odor.
I remembered then that I thought the same thing the last time I had coffee there, and yes it was incredibly distracting. A Sharpie smell is so strong and when the product you’ve bought and are hoping to enjoy relies on experiencing it through taste and smell, it really kind of brings the whole thing down a notch or two. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that there’s also a possibility that someone could get it on their nose if the marker wasn’t completely dry… but that’s a whole other ball of wax.
Is It Really Worth It to Work on an Experience that Isn’t Noticed?
We then launched into a discussion about how if they had simply created a different system for marking the coffee cup by say, writing it on the side, or using the same method that Starbucks does by placing an order sticker on the side, the problem wouldn’t have occurred. However you also wouldn’t have known that it could have been a problem. So they wouldn’t have gotten credit for anything. So is it worth it for them to even make the effort?
Well, we thought about it more. We’ve had the same kind of conundrum at Whole Foods. Whenever we order deli meats and cheeses, for some reason they place the price sticker on the edge of the bag, pull it over the zipper, and then fold it onto the rest of the bag. Not sure why they do it that way, but what ends up happening is that we can’t open the bag. So we’re fighting to push the zipper over the tag, or end up trying to rip the price tag off, which inevitably then rips open the entire bag, causing us to switch everything to our own bags or just fold over the ripped bag and hope nothing dries out.
We wouldn’t have noticed if the experience worked though, but we definitely did notice when it didn’t. So the question remains. Is it worth it to focus on the client experience if so often a good one isn’t even noticed?
Well, I’m guessing you know that my answer is yes because a great client experience, is often about the boring stuff. It’s about things not being exciting. It’s about things going along exactly the way they should because you’ve planned, created systems and processes, and thought out about how to prevent each hiccup along the way. And even though the client won’t know that things don’t usually go so smoothly, especially if they’ve never worked with another designer before, it’s still necessary.
The client won’t know that there could have been no standardized design process but rather a hodge podge of random meetings that were just decided upon as they went along. The client won’t know that there could have been no “Welcome Packet” or kick off meeting to prepare them for what’s to come and set the right expectations, but rather endured a constant feeling of anxiety and worry as nothing was shared about what was next. The client doesn’t know that there could have been no design fee payment schedule but rather a random surprise in their mail every so often that seemed to only rely on “when I have time to bill you.”
Nope, the client won’t know any of this if they have nothing to compare it to. They won’t even know that there are so, so, so many things that they should be giving you credit for. So many things that they should be thanking you for and appreciating you for. But, it’s still worth it.
A Great Client Experience is a Cumulative One
And it’s still worth it because although you may not always get credit, the experience you’re providing is still a great one. The experience you’re providing is still a “wow” as most of the time a great client experience is simply the path of least resistance for the clients. It’s the shortest, easiest, road that they can take from “I hate this space” to “I’m never leaving this space.”
It’s the one with little to no hiccups, with no bumps in the road or obstacles in their way. It’s the one where they’re not having to question “what’s next?” at every turn, or reach out to you to find out just where their pieces are and when they’re going to be installed. It’s the one where they know exactly how their home will be cared for, no matter whose there and working on what.
It’s a cumulative effect of greatness really. It’s the continual and consistent ease from the beginning to the end that will eventually make the clients turn around and say, “wow, that was easy.” Often it won’t be one thing and they may not even be able to say what about the experience in particular was wonderful. They just know that it was. They’ll know that it was easy. They’ll know that it was enjoyable. They’ll know that everything they needed, was there when they needed it. And they’ll know that they’ll definitely, definitely work with you again (and that they need to tell their friends and family about you too).
You’ll know all of the work that you did to keep things going without them noticing, but they won’t, and that’s ok. The lack of them thinking about the experience is often what you want. As if it’s overly noticeable, it’s usually in the wrong way. It’s like the weather. I often say “The best weather is when you don’t notice it. That means that it’s not too hot. It’s not too cold. It’s just right.” The same is with the client experience, the best ones are often the most unnoticeable ones, at least most of the time.
There’s Still Room for Being Noticed Though
Now I know that might kind of sound a bit boring and unmotivating, and I get it. I love the fun “wow” factor moments too in a client experience. I mean, that’s really why we do it, right? For the wows, the jumps for joy, and the “thank you!”s. But you’ll never get those moments until you pave the path of least resistance first, until you figure out how to make the client experience so smooth that it’s completely unnoticeable. And once you have, well the “wow”s will start rolling in from your friendliness, your warmth, your moments of above and beyond, your quick replies, your creative solutions, your surprises, and your reliability.
And when it all comes together, well, that’s nothing short of spectacular. Your clients will ooh and ahh over their experience just as much as they do over the space. And well that’s just the peak of success, isn’t it? To have your client not only love what you do, but also how you do it. To not only love your work, but to also love how you work.
So don’t worry that so much of your client experience work will go unnoticed. Let it motivate you as that means you’re on the right track. If clients aren’t always reaching out to say “thank you” for making it easy to login to my client portal by embedding it on your site, or “thank you” for always sending an emailed summary of each meeting, or “thank you” for always letting me know when I’ll hear from you next, it’s because it’s all they know from you. They don’t know that this isn’t typical or usual. They just know it’s awesome. So just go out and be awesome, every day, all day, and eventually the “wow!”s will start rolling in.
Let me know in the comments below, do you ever feel that your client experience efforts go unnoticed? I’d love to know!
And if you’re for looking for more ways to serve your clients exceptionally well, then take a look at what we’ve got for you here!