How to create an incredible client experience (& why you need to)
Do you have an incredible client experience? One that provides you with free marketing, amazing referrals and most importantly, truly happy clients?
Client experience is something most people brush off, thinking, of course I've got that! But, do you really? And if you do, does it align with the goals and values you set for brand? Yeah. I see you nodding your head. Now, let me ask you this, realistically, is every client/customer getting this same experience? Less nodding going on? Why is it that every client doesn't get the same experience? I know what you're thinking, clients are different. They have different personalities, some are more needy and some are less involved, I get that, but why are you allowing your clients to dictate the experience YOU provide? Don't you think you'd attract more of your ideal clients if you had a consistent experience? Don't you also think you'd be less stressed if your experience was neatly outlined and organized?
Before you jump ahead, no, I'm not talking about that list in your head about the steps you take when you get a new client or customer. I'm talking about a brand guide, something that showcases how you interact, timelines you might have, steps you take and the order of the overall experience from start to finish.
There are a number of reasons why this should be somewhere other than simply in your head.
- First, have you ever thought about hiring someone to help with your business? Maybe you're thinking, I'm way too new in business for that, but guess what? You might not be in a year or two from now. Starting a brand experience guide now, will benefit you short term and long term.
- Secondly, having a brand experience guide will highlight your shortcomings and allow you to see areas you can improve. A roadmap shows you dead ends right? Well, think of this as your roadmap, you will be able to step back and visualize the journey your clients and customers are on and consider areas you are succeeding in and also areas improvements and adjustments can be made.
Ok, so now that you are on board for why you need a client experience guide, let's chat about how you can use this whether you are a service based business, or a sales based business.
Service Based Businesses
Service based businesses, or businesses that sell a service and not a physical product, typically have more client interaction and therefore, are provided more opportunities to develop a strong, consistent experience. Online only service based businesses are a bit more challenging, still. The mindset for a customer working with a service based business is a little different from a sales based business, but don't be discouraged by that. Instead, strategize the opportunities each avenue provides.
Try and think of the last time you went to a service based business, online or otherwise. What was your first interaction like? Did they greet you? What was the response time like? Did they seem rushed or distracted? How much value did the initial interaction provide? These are all markers for how an overall experience might go and believe me, clients are taking notes. Take a moment to consider things that they did right that garnered your trust in their business and ways you feel they fell short and could improve. If that had been your business, how would you improve the experience you had to ensure clients not only returned, but referred friends and family.
Use these experiences and the ideals and values you have for your own brand to determine your own client experience.
If you value communication, make that distinctly aware to your clients. I'm not saying you need to respond within 20 mins to an inquiry, but set a reasonable standard and maintain it. I value communication and my standard is 24 hours, mostly less. I make that known to my clients so that they are aware that I respect their time and I am going to be available to them and expect the same in return.
Create some scripts for yourself, not so that you can use canned emails all the time, but to ensure you are maintaining that brand experience consistency and providing the same value to all your clients. Another amazing way to connect as an online serviced based business is to connect face to face.
No, I'm not encouraging you to fly across the country for coffee, although I'm open to that if someone wants to pay for it :wink, wink:
I'm talking about Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Facetime. When you show up face to face, your clients feel the connection. They connect with you and you gain their trust. Listening and watching someone light up about their passions crosses boundaries that cannot be crossed through emails. Don't be afraid to schedule these types of calls, I promise you, you will be happy you did.
Follow up, it's important to always follow up. Whether you are wrapping up the experience with a client or just hung up with an inquiry consultation over Skype. Always take the time to follow up. I periodically follow up even with past clients. Become the client and consider how you would feel if you had a consultation and then received a follow up expressing their gratitude for your time and what a pleasure it was to get to chat about their needs. Provide some value and drop in some knowledge from the conversation to let them know you were listening and truly want to work with them.
Product Based Businesses
Product based businesses, or businesses that provide clients with a tangible product, have a somewhat easier time creating an incredible client experience. No matter what you sell, the experience should be strategic, cohesive and allow customers to not only be thoroughly happy with their purchase, but to make them want to purchase again and give you referrals.
Think about the last time you purchased something, especially online. Everything from the website and your initial contact down to the ease of finding what you were looking for. Was the checkout process easy? Did you get a confirmation quickly? What was shipping like? Were you notified about tracking and any possible delays? When you received the product, how was it packaged? Were there any postcards or flyers or special touches added?
These may seem like a lot of work, but I can tell you, and research statistics back me up, that these details matter! I recently ordered from a company that I had never ordered from before. Not a huge company, but you could tell they cared about their branding aesthetic and maintained cohesiveness across all aspects. After I placed my order, I immediately received a confirmation, a thank you email with a discount code for a future purchase and the next day, a shipping confirmation with tracking info. My product arrived earlier than anticipated and when it arrived, great care had been taken in the packaging details. It was beautifully wrapped with tissue paper and twine with a postcard and a sprig of lavender included. On the postcard was a thank you with a discount code for my next purchase. I also received a follow up email making sure that everything had arrived and asking me if it met my expectations and asking for a review. I promptly reviewed the item and even sent the owner of the company an email expressing my gratitude for the details and care they used. I've since referred at least 5 people to their company with no doubt that the experience I received, would be the same they would experience.
This, my friends, is what client experience is all about. You don't have to spend $1000 on packaging materials, although they are nice and have been proven to be a fabulous marketing tactic (4 in 10 people will snap a photo and post to social media a great packaging experience). Get some postcards designed, use stickers and custom designed and handwritten thank you notes, try and select packaging that enhances your overall experience. Consider your target market always and how you would feel to receive the package you are sending.
Even setting up somewhat canned and automated emails will allow you to garner trust and authenticity with your buyers, even before they receive their purchase. Set the proper expectations, create a handcrafted personal experience, ensure their confidence with your brand.
Client experience design is something I truly value. Whether you are a product or service based business, if you need some help creating the custom experience to go with your brand, I'd love to help. Together, we can create packaging solutions, craft custom details, automate your interaction, and even create custom client gifting. Contact me to get started using your brand to the fullest.