First, if you haven’t had your chance to enroll in “Serving Clients through the Crisis: How to Adapt Your Client Experience for COVID-19” yet, now is definitely the time to do so. We’ll be LIVE next Friday, May 29th at 12:00 PM ET and again on June 5th to discuss all the ways that it’s necessary to adapt the client experience to COVID-19.
Because as we’ll talk about in this week’s post, restrictions may be easing up, but the necessity for making your clients comfortable isn’t. In this environment, it’s paramount to focus on keeping your clients, your employees and trades, and yourself safe, healthy, and comfortable. So if you’re ready for the strategies to get you there, and have lots of questions running through your mind about how to operate in this current reality, and you’re ready for some answers, come on over and join us here. I hope to see you there!
Designing the Design Process is On Sale Now!
And remember, if what you’re looking for instead is a step by step action plan on how to deliver an exceptional experience no matter what environment we’re living in, “Designing the Design Process: The Foundation of an Exceptional Experience” is 30% off (more than $100 savings) from now until June 5th! So don’t forget to snag that here!
Operating at a Different Speed
Now onto this week’s post, easing restrictions, but not precautions. So as I’m sure you’ve noticed, the country, and the world, is starting to shift back into operating. It may not be at full speed, but it is at a speed that’s above zero.
So, you may be thinking, things are back to normal, yay! Life goes on. And while of course life is going on, as it really never stopped just adjusted, things aren’t going back to “normal” yet. And as things aren’t back to normal, the precautions you need to take while operating in the current environment, shouldn’t be normal either.
Now we all know that this pandemic and its precautions are becoming controversial, and political, but the fact of the matter is, we’re in it. And may be for a little while. So, it is important that no matter the stance or thoughts on how this is being handled, as a business you need to be prepared for taking the proper, appropriate, and necessary precautions to protect everyone you come into contact with as a business.
What does that mean exactly? Well, first of all, let’s refer to the CDC. I’m obviously not in the business of creating preventative health measures, but they are. So, I highly recommend you check there first. Here’s how to prepare your small business and employees for the effects of COVID-19 and here’s guidance on if and how to reopen your business, both from the CDC.
Now beyond that, you need to create your own plans and policies, before you start going back into client’s spaces. You need to decide, how am I going to operate within someone’s home? What’s my policy on social distancing with clients? With employees, and trades? What if clients want me to take fewer precautions, but I’m not comfortable with that?
And then, what’s my policy, on relaxing the policies at some point? Will I make that decision on when to do so, or will I take total direction from the CDC and other health experts ( I recommend not making decisions that are against current government policies so as to not get yourself in a pickle or put anyone at a health risk).
Why Create Your Own Policies?
So why do you need to come up with these plans and policies, that extend beyond CDC guidelines? Why do you actually need to be doing even more than they suggest? Well, there’s a few different reasons.
1. In order to successfully deliver a client experience whether during COVID-19 or not, systems, processes, and procedures need to be in place. If they aren’t, inconsistencies start popping up and client trust starts to wane, which is obviously not what you want, especially right now.
2. The CDC created general guidelines for businesses to abide by, but obviously didn’t break them down industry by industry. And as such, each industry must create its own procedures and precautions that address and account for its own set of unique challenges.
3. Many clients won’t feel comfortable having people coming in an out of their home until they know you have firm policies and procedures in place, that are being taken very seriously.
4. To protect everyone as much as possible.
5. To resolve a disconnect between clients and yourself about how serious this situation is. Having a procedure already in place just becomes part of how you operate your business, rather than something that’s negotiable or an option.
You’re In a Unique Position
Let’s be honest, being an interior designer in a time like this puts you in a very interesting position. Now more than ever, people are realizing the importance of their home. They’re realizing how it works, how it doesn’t, what they like, and what they loathe. As a result, many, many people are motivated to change their home right now. So this creates a huge opportunity for you.
On the flip side though, as a designer you’re also in the position that in order for someone to work with you fully, they have to pop this bubble that they’ve been in for weeks on end – staying at home with only the people they live with, disinfecting each and every inanimate object that comes through the door, and walking as far away as possible from another human being. So making the jump from this, to letting living, breathing strangers in your home who are going to be walking around, sitting down, and staying for quite awhile, ultimately disrupting this clean safe haven of theirs, can be a bit of a stretch.
So, right now you have both a huge opportunity, and quite a challenge. People realize they need to hire you, and are motivated to do so, but many are also pondering whether or not they’re ready for it yet. Or even if you’re ready for it. So you need something to bridge that gap.
Build a Procedural Bridge Over the Gap
And what’s that bridge? Well, that bridge is your own well-informed, well-thought out procedures and policies. Ones that your clients know of, are aware of, and understand. Policies and procedures help people to feel comfortable and secure. They help them realize that you have their best interest at heart, that you’re prepared, and that you’re as in control of the the situation as possible. They know you’ve got this, so they can relax, even if it’s only a little bit. And really, that’s what the client experience is all about anyways, pandemic or not.
So bridge that gap. Take some time to sit down and write down how you want to operate going forward for the foreseeable future. Talk with your employees and ask what they feel about this situation that they’re in. Are they ready to go into peoples’ homes? What are they comfortable with, and what are they uncomfortable with? Do they need to be particularly careful as they live with someone whose in a particularly vulnerable population? And what about any ideas for extra precautions or ways to help everyone be safer, do they have anything in mind?
Then reach out to your tradespeople and do the same. Ask them how they feel, what they’re concerned about, and if there are any particular precautions they need to take to keep from getting ill. Then reach out to your vendors and ask them what accommodations they’re able to make, and are making, to keep everyone safe and comfortable. Talk to your receiving warehouse, and to your delivery people. Talk to everyone that your business and your clients will encounter as you begin to move forward. That way, you can be as in control of the situation as possible, and create the corresponding and necessary policies where needed.
Yes it’s a lot of work. I know. But it will make a difference. You’ll feel better. Your employees will feel better. Your clients will feel better. And as a result, your business will BE better.
If You Do This, Then I’ll Feel Comfortable Doing That
Owning a business comes with a certain amount of responsibility. Clients and employees look to you, and up to you, to lead them, to take care of them, and to respect them. So in a time of such uncertainty and fear, I encourage you to fully step into that role and take on what so many will be asking of you – “please protect my health, as we work together to transform this home, now that we more fully appreciate its form, its function, and its use.”
So remember, as we turn this corner of openness, where we’re allowed outside, where we’re more allowed to interact, and we’re more allowed to run our businesses as somewhat usual, precautions still need to be firmly in place. Because before so many of your clients say yes to working with you, they’ll first consider what you’ve done to prepare. Their willingness to work with you, will be conditional. And the conditions will be, “If you’ve done this ___, then I’ll feel comfortable doing ___” So make sure you’re doing the “this ___,” which is taking the proper precautions to operate in the current environment, so they can feel comfortable doing the “___,” which is work with you. Because love may be unconditional, but business is not.
And if what you need to operate confidently in this environment is guidance on how to implement the policies and procedures and what they should be, strategies and scripts for how to talk to clients during this strange and awkward time, and a deeper dive into making clients comfortable working with you again (either virtually or in person) join us here for “Serving Clients Through the Crisis: Adapting the Client Experience for COVID-19.”
Or if you’d like to use this time to update your entire client experience from project start to finish, you can find out more about that here (and save more than $100)!