Lately I’ve been worried that week by week, post by post, I’ve made you think that to achieve an exceptional client experience, you must have a perfect client experience, and that as a result, you may be feeling overwhelmed. I’ve been wondering and worrying that you’re thinking, “There’s so many things I’m supposed to say. So many things I’m supposed to create. So many things I’m supposed to improve. So many things I’m supposed to remember. And well, it’s just too much. Should I even start? Will I ever be able to deliver an exceptional client experience?”
My answer to both is yes. Yes, you absolutely should start, and yes you absolutely can get there. However, it will never be perfect. You will always make mistakes. You will always experience setbacks, and that’s ok.
So Much Perfection, You Don’t Even Want to Try
As you set out to do something, it should never be with the idea of perfection in mind. It should always be with the idea of progression in mind. Improvement yes, flawless no. And as sad as that may seem, and as disappointing even as that may seem, it’s the truth. Sometimes I think we even hold ourselves back from improving on something because we simply think, “I’ll never be able to do this at that level.” or “I’ll never be able to do what she does.” or “I’ll never be great at this.” So, we simply don’t try to get better or sometimes even begin, because we’ve assured ourselves that it just won’t work out anyways. Here’s an example.
When I was a kid my mom’s pies were legendary. I’d seen the ribbons, listened to the stories, and seen the newspaper clippings. I’d heard her talk countless times about how to make a great pie crust, how to handle the dough with extreme care, and frankly how many ways there were to screw it up (there seemed to be about a million). I was impressed, but also, scared.
So you know what I did? You think I remembered all of the ways I could avoid screwing it up or how to handle the dough with extreme care so that when I started baking pies I could do it right and well? Nope, not at all. The result was, I NEVER wanted to try and bake a pie, or really, try and bake anything. Baking was just too hard. Baking was just too “mysterious.” It was something that somehow other people were able to achieve, but me, no way. Definitely not me. It was something so difficult, so daunting, that I didn’t even want to try.
One Fourth of July though, for whatever reason, I changed my mind. I had a party to go to, and I wanted to bring something unique. I wanted to do something that would stand out from the crowd. So I thought, “maybe I’ll just try out a quick and easy strawberry shortcake, cake.” The recipe was straight forward and I figured if it wasn’t good, I’d be covering it up with whipped cream and strawberries anyways. So how bad could it really be? Well, guess what happened…
It was awesome. It was a hit. There was only a tiny sliver left on the serving plate as I walked out, and it felt great. And you know what happened after that? I kept baking, and I slowly began to realize that maybe I had inherited the baking gene after all. And I had wasted 32 years sure that the baking gene had skipped a generation, even though I had never even tried.
Are my bakes perfect? Nope. A quarter of the time I have to start over, half the time Aaron has to keep me from pitching my creations, but that last quarter, well, it actually works out beautifully. But from an outsider perspective? Well they only see what I choose to present. They only see the finished product – the macarons, the tartlets, the pies.
What they don’t see is all the times I’m pulling my hair out, looking at something knowing that it’s wrong but not knowing how I got there, and then not knowing how to fix it, then realizing a solution, and then somehow making it through at the end. No, they just see the stacks of raspberry macarons on the plate at the end that I had just hours before told Aaron, “Well, there’s really no reason for me to even bake these as they’re completely ruined.” To then later hear, “These are the best macarons I’ve ever had in my life. You should open a bakery.”
Don’t Let the Pressure of Perfection Overwhelm You
Here’s the thing though. I never would have found out my buried talent for baking, if I would have let this idea of perfection, or living up to my mom’s accomplishments, overwhelm me forever. I never would have known that I too can have baking accomplishments. That I too can have the joy of seeing someone bite into my creation and then see them smile.
My message to you is the same. Don’t let the pressure of perfection in the client experience overwhelm you, deter you, or keep you from starting or moving forward. Don’t start with the idea of perfection in your mind. Don’t read this blog week after week and think “Ok, I’ll bookmark this post and refer back to it when I actually decide to go for it. When I’m really ready to start focusing on the client experience, I’m going to start doing this. One day, one day, I’m really going to take this on.” And then let day, after day, after day keep passing you by.
And well, I hate to disappoint you but, you’re never going to have a perfect client experience. Whether you’ve already started and are frustrated with your mistakes, or you haven’t started and are waiting for that right moment, you’re never going to reach perfection. None of us will. And even if you have that one project, that one client, that was just perfect, that was your crowning achievement and the one that really, really worked out, well, unfortunately, another project may not go as well. Another project may not be as seamless, and easy. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t try, and that you don’t keep going. It also doesn’t mean that you haven’t actually made huge leaps in your progress, or have a great talent for the client experience. It just means that the client experience will never be perfect because well, nothing is.
And while the outside of someone else’s business may seem like perfection and it may seem like it’s running like a well oiled machine, the truth of the matter is, they may mistakes too. You just don’t see them. You don’t hear them. You don’t get to watch as they throw their hands up in the air and say, “You have GOT to be kidding me! What in the world am I going to do about THIS?!” and then see them scramble as they work to figure it out. Heck, you might be living the exact same thing, and you don’t even know it. People might be looking at you and your life, wondering how you design, run your business, and deliver an exceptional client experience all while looking so calm and successful, and you think, that you’re a hot mess.
Mistakes are a Sign of Growth
The thing is though, mistakes aren’t something to be embarrassed about, they’re not something that should be held as tightly as a national secret. Now, sure you don’t always have to share them with clients if it’s something you can fix without the project being affected in any way, but don’t be so embarrassed by the mere fact that you have made a mistake that it stops you from trying again. You are human after all, and by your very nature, imperfect.
And the thing about mistakes is, well, it gets worse before it gets better. When you’re working on the client experience and trying to stay consistent with your communication in your clients, always telling them what you’ll do and then keeping on track with doing what you said, then doing the right thing when a vendor makes a mistake and trying to remember how to handle it, and then meeting a client for the first time and trying your best to listen more than you talk, well, more mistakes are going to be made. Pushing yourself and challenging yourself, means more mistakes are going to happen.
But you know what the great thing about that is? If you keep going, you’ll learn how to fix those mistakes. Then you’ll learn how to keep from making those mistakes. Then you’ll push yourself to the next level of delivering an exceptional client experience. And then the cycle starts all over again, it gets worse, but then it gets so, so much better because well, mistakes are natural, many are uncontrollable, but it’s how you handle them that impresses people almost the most. Sure we all love a perfect experience, but often the most memorable experience? Well it’s when someone swoops in to save the day, and does a spectacular job at it.
So don’t bookmark your ideas for how you want to start improving the client experience some day. Put them into play today. You don’t want to miss out on an undiscovered talent because you’re too afraid to try or have just accepted that you can’t move past the level that you’re at now. Who knows, you may be the next designer who delivers that legendary client experience, but you’ll never know unless you try. So go, discover your undiscovered talents, seek out progression rather than perfection, and I’ll be right here waiting for you, cheering you on the whole way.
Let me know in the comments below, do you struggle with starting something that you know you’re going to make a mistake on? If so, how do you drown out that “need to be perfect” voice and push forward? I would love to know!
And if you’re ready to embrace progression rather than perfection in the client experience and are looking for a step by step plan on how to do just that, we’ve got that answer for you here!