Before we jump into this week’s post, I have a couple of exciting announcements to make! First, our signature course, “Designing the Design Process: The Foundation of an Exceptional Client Experience” is on sale for 30% off, which is more than $100 off its usual price! Now more than ever an exceptional client experience is crucial. So if you’ve had it in the back of your mind that someday you’re going to get this course, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet, I recommend making that someday now.
It’s the foundational course for knowing the systems, processes, and steps to providing your clients with an exceptional experience throughout the entire design project, while also giving you the confidence to fully step into that role of leading your clients – which is truly what your clients want and need you to do. So if you’re ready to get your hands on the 12 video modules, loads of downloads, and dozens of action items and takeaways, to take things to the next level, you can do that here!
Adapting Your Client Experience for COVID-19
Now if you’ve got your systems and processes down, but what you need is some guidance on handling clients as we’re moving into this new COVID-19 phase where things are lightening up a bit, I hear you. I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from designers lately that projects are starting once again and there’s even been requests for new projects, but, they’re wondering how to adapt the client experience to COVID-19. Understandable as it is quite a challenge, but not an impossible one.
So if you’re wondering to yourself, how many precautions should I really be taking to keep everyone safe? How do I still set boundaries and expectations without seeming insensitive? How do I talk to current and future clients about this new way of working together, and still deliver an exceptional experience? And what about those clients who want to remain virtual for the foreseeable future? What do I do to still keep them engaged, interested, and excited? Well, come and join me in “Serving Clients Through the Crisis: How to Adapt Your Client Experience for COVID-19” and we’ll talk all about how to do all of that, and more.
During this LIVE online 2 session course held on May 29th & June 5th from 12:00-1:00 PM ET, we’re going to discuss the questions that you have on your mind, and maybe more importantly, the ones that your clients have on their mind, and how to handle them both. Because the thing is, unless you have the right answers to give to your clients, and they can access those answers easily and often on their own, they may not feel comfortable moving forward, or even reaching out. So it’s important that you have your answers prepared now, so that you can give them to your clients in the future.
Your clients are relying on you to be ready, willing, and prepared for this new normal. Join us here so you will be.
Imperfections are the New Expectation
Now onto this week’s post, “Embracing the Inevitable Imperfections!” Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of imperfections. Things not going perfectly, well, that just doesn’t sit right with me. Whenever I do something, I put everything I possibly can into it, to make sure that nothing goes wrong. And 98% of the time, that works out. But there’s always that gosh darn 2%. And there’s no way it could have been prevented, despite all the work done to do exactly that.
I’m guessing that you’re the same. You work really hard to keep the project moving along on time, you’re checking in with vendors to ensure the products are in process, you keep up with the trades to make sure that they’re making the progress that they need to make and in the time they need to make it, but still, something goes wrong. And you have to go back to your client and tell them. It’s literally the worst. That sinking feeling where you realize, a mistake has been made. Something has gone wrong. Even if it was completely out of your hands, it’s still a feeling that you just can’t shake. You’d give almost anything to make it go away.
But here’s the thing, this is going to be happening a lot more often, for quite awhile. Every supply chain is going this way and that. There’s back orders. There’s out of stock. There’s limited options. There’s closed factories. There’s shipping delays. There’s some states going back to business as usual, and yet other states are still under a stay at home order. There’s just no consistency, and even less clear information on when things will be consistently available anymore. So it’s important to start embracing the fact that, imperfections are the new expectation.
Be Honest With Your Clients
Now of course that doesn’t mean that you don’t do your due diligence of checking up on items, checking in with trades, and maintaining a system of checks and balances, just because you know things will go wrong and expect them to do so. The systems and processes that you use usually, should be relied on even more now than ever before, as you want to do whatever you can to manage those things that you still have complete control over.
But what embracing imperfections as the new expectation does mean is, well, prepare yourself for that inevitability. Expect it. Don’t be surprised by it. Be prepared for it with solutions, alternatives, and work arounds in the back of your mind. Prep yourself for the fact that you’re going to need to do some creative problem solving for awhile, much more so than ever before. Know that a lot of things are going to go forward, backwards, and sideways over these next few months, maybe longer. No one knows how long of course. But again what you do know is, that keeping your expectations in check is imperative.
Here’s what you’re probably thinking though. Ok, I get that I need to expect these imperfections, but what about my clients? What do I tell them? How do I talk to them about these tough and less than ideal situations, while also selling them on starting a new project? Is that even possible? Well, yes it is, but you are going to have to have “the talk.” You’re going to have to share with them, that a lot of unexpected situations are likely to occur throughout the project.
Because now is not the time to paint your clients a picture of an ideal that can in no way happen. Can you do your best? Yes. Can you uphold your systems and processes and constantly review your checks and balances to make sure you’ve done everything you can to prevent issues? Yes. Can you be an incredible, on the spot, problem solver whose quick to find alternatives that are even better than the original choice? Yes. And share that with them. But you also need to talk about the not so great stuff as well.
You need to tell your clients, “Unfortunately in this time of extreme uncertainty, there may be a lot of unforeseen circumstances that we come up against. Items that we choose may be out of stock suddenly and may never come back. Shipping delays are almost a guarantee as priority is understandably going to shipping what’s essential. And there may be a delay in trades work as there may be a shortage in workers with people possibly becoming ill, or not working due to being immuno-compromised. So it’s important to be ready for that possibility. But I also want you to know that we will do whatever is in our power to prevent any and all delays, setbacks, and issues, and when we can’t prevent them, we will do everything in our power to right the situation as quickly as we’re able to, so we can continue on with your project. ”
Being a Leader Means Having the Tough Conversations
Here’s the thing. Right now, being a leader and a hero to your clients, isn’t achieved by promising the world. In fact, being a leader in any time isn’t just about promising the world. True leaders are the ones who lead in times of trouble. When everything is going wrong around them and they’re saying, “Yep, this is awful. Now here’s the plan…” well, that’s someone who people want to be around. That’s someone people want to listen to. So go ahead and have the courage to be that kind of leader to your clients.
Right now, the vast majority of clients that are wanting to work with you in the midst of all of this, are going to be understanding. They know things are crazy, and they accept that and expect that. And they still want to work with you. That’s pretty amazing. Good job, you!
But even though their love for you is so strong that they’re willing to work with you even in the midst of a pandemic, it’s still important to talk to them about the inevitable imperfections, setbacks, and challenges that are going to occur. Because first of all, they don’t know what issues the design industry is experiencing right now, and second of all, it’s comforting to them.
Yes, that’s right, it’s actually comforting to them. Identifying the worrisome elephant in the room is often the best thing that you can do with your clients. Pretending that something isn’t happening, when it obviously is, doesn’t help them. It actually makes them more anxious.
So resist the urge to brush over the imperfections that are about to come their way. Bring them into the forefront. Talk about them. Explain them. And then, comfort them with the fact that you’re prepared to handle them. Your clients need you. They want you. They’re waiting to work with you. They just need you to be honest with them. And you just need to be ready for it.
If you’d like to get ready for your clients by providing an exceptional experience from beginning to end, you can find out how to do that here.
And if you’re in need of finding out how to adapt the client experience during COVID-19, you can find that here.