Podcast: 5 Ways to Create a Better Client Experience
When I decided to take my web design business full time, I knew I was going to have to step up my client experience. I knew I couldn't do the same things that I did when I was just "dabbling" in web design on the side of my day job. Back then, I didn’t really have a super detailed process in place for interacting with clients. I knew how to design good websites, and that was it.
So I became very intentional about creating an experience that would make me easy to work with, as a full-time business owner. I knew the client experience was important because it not only makes for happier clients, but it also helps to get more referrals. When people have a great experience with you, they’re more likely to share it with their friends and colleagues, who may also need the services you’re offering.
Plus, when you have a solid, clear process, clients seem to step it up on their end too, when it comes to meeting their expectations (like completing questionnaires thoroughly, providing files when needed, quicker feedback, etc.). I sometimes hear service providers complaining about clients not meeting certain expectations, but oftentimes, they didn’t set those expectations in the first place by having a great experience already mapped out.
Having a solid client experience also gives you structure as a business owner, so you don’t have to waste your time trying to figure out what to do next. With a standard process to follow, you already know exactly what to do without making any guesses, so you can easily move from one step to the next.
So if you’re also in a service-related business, whether it’s event planning, web design, graphic design, photography, etc., here are a few things that you could do to elevate your client experience.
Tip #1: Respond to inquiries quickly and make it easy for potential clients to set appointments with you.
When I was in sales, we had to respond to new leads within five minutes of receiving them in our inbox. We were even evaluated based on how fast we responded to our leads. This was important because it’s been shown that 78% of consumers buy from the company that responds to their inquiry first. Yup, you can literally set yourself apart and capture more sales by simply responding to inquiries…QUICKLY! Many small business owners are probably missing out on sales because they’re slow to respond to inquiries. In my business, I try to respond to any new client inquiries within 2 hours or less. But studies show that it’s best to respond within 5 minutes or less, so try to do that, if you are able to. I even booked my photographer for my brand shoot partially because she responded first to my inquiry, after I’d sent messages out to about 6 different photographers, several of whom, took a couple of days to respond, plus I loved her photography style the best anyway.
Also, put an auto-responder on your email inbox, so people can expect when to hear back from you. People want confirmation that their message was received and an auto-responder does that, while communicating that they can expect to hear back from you within 24 hours, 48 hours, etc. You can easily set this up with your out of office message on your inbox.
And finally, make it easy for someone to contact you and set appointments with you. In addition to having a contact form, you could also list your email address on your website and on your contact page. I even have my email address in my footer too, so I can make sure it’s easy to find. You could even use a chat widget, like Drift (it's free!), to allow people to easily send you a message, no matter what page they’re currently viewing on your website. When it’s easy to contact you, people are much more likely to do it. If your business involves scheduling appointments, use Calendly (also free!), an appointment scheduling tool, so they can see when you're available. (No one likes going back and forth though email communicating about good times to speak.) When I get new inquiries, I send the link to Calendly and they can set the appointment time on my calendar that works for them. You can also turn on the automatic follow up feature in Calendly, so you don’t have to manually send emails to remind people of when the appointment is set.
Tip #2: Start every project with a consultation to find out how you can help a potential client and map out a plan for working with them.
No matter what service you provide, starting a relationship with a client with a consultation is always a great first step. I like to put a face with a name, so in my business, I do free 30 minute video consultations via Zoom (another free tool…I’m telling you guys about ALL the free tools! LOL) to chat with clients about their businesses and how I can help reach their business goals with my web design strategies. But you can at least do a phone call, if you prefer not to do video calls.
Having an initial consultation will also help potential clients to get to know you and your process to see if it’s a fit for you to work together. You can explain your work style, the steps in your process, and their role to make the project successful, so there are no surprises and both parties are on the same page, once you get started. Setting these clear expectations upfront is impressive to a client because you look like you have your stuff together and they’ll feel reassured that they’re making the best decision by working with you.
Tip #3: Provide tips on how to get the most of what you provided to them, even after you’re done working with them.
Making the best impression doesn’t stop once you’re done working with a client, one-on-one. You can also continue to make an impact by helping them to make the most of what you provided to them. For example, I do this my providing training on how to maintain the websites, once I’m done working with my clients and I provide access to a client portal with tutorials on how to maintain their website, too. As a photographer, for example, maybe you could have a client resource area on your website, telling them how to select photos for certain purposes, like how to select photos for a brochure, a website banner area, an about page, etc.
Oftentimes, clients love the results, but could they use a little guidance when it comes to using the deliverables that you provided. So think of any ways that you can help them best use what you provided, then package it up in a step-by-step cheat sheet or put it into a client portal page on your website, and wow them by providing it at the end of the process.
Tip #4: Send a client gift through the mail to thank them!
A small gift can go a long way! We all love getting things in the mail, so once you’re done working with a client, send a small gift with a nice note to thank them for working with you. Not many service-providers are taking the time to do this, so this instantly sets you apart! You could send something like sending a small cute notebook, a mug, a book they may like, a box of snacks or coffee or tea (there are lots of gift boxes for all kinds of preferences these days). This leaves a wonderful impression and it’ll have them telling all their friends about the lovely gift you gave them.
Tip #5: Try blogging to offer helpful tips to your audience and to establish more credibility.
Packaging up your expertise on a blog helps to show that you’re truly an expert in what you do. It also helps clients who may be on the fence about contacting you to feel more inclined to actually give you a shot because you’re showing off your knowledge and educating them. Plus up to 95% of people who come across your service won’t be ready to use what you offer right away, so having a blog allows you to still serve them with helpful content, making a great impression. And once they’re ready for what you have to offer, they’re thinking about your business because of how much value you provided for them, even before they talked to you. Doing a blog post once a week is great! Or if you prefer podcast or video content, you can do one of those once a week. Just be sure to embed the podcast episodes or videos into blog posts on your website, so people browsing your website can see your content. You want it to be accessible both on the podcast or video platforms, and on your website.
And also, if you can create a good email opt-in incentive, definitely do that so you can capture their email addresses. Keeping in touch with a potential client until they’re ready to work with you is always easier to do via email.
That’s it! These are my 5 tips for elevating your client experience! Let me know if you give any of these a try!