You go to a new restaurant where you have to wait for your table in a noisy foyer that doesn’t have enough seating. When you’re finally at your table, it takes 10 minutes just to get a glass of water–never mind that cocktail you’re dying for. Two strikes in and you’re already having a bad experience.
Your food arrives to your table cold and when you’re ready to get the heck out of there, your waiter takes forever to bring your check. He tries to make it up to you by leaving you with a free dessert–too little, too late. When you do finally leave, you and your dining companion make a mental note never to return.
There are so many other options out there that when you don’t have a good experience with a business, chances are slim you’ll give them another try.
The same goes for your business. Set a good first impression and your clients will sing your praises. Get off on the wrong foot and chances are that nothing will help to make things right.
Do you have an onboarding process that makes your new clients feel welcome and loved? Do you greet them right away and offer service that they’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else?
If you’re not sure, you need to perform a check to ensure that every client has a top-notch experience–so they’ll stick around and refer their friends and colleagues your way.
Have a workflow in place
When you bring a new client on, make sure that both you and the client know what to expect. Explain how your services work and what is required of the client. As the business owner, you may need log-in information and documents from the client. The client will expect you to have a streamlined system for gathering this and other information. Make sure you have a ready list of what you need from the client and how he should provide that to you. I recommend a questionnaire or form that the client can fill in and share with you so everything is all in one place.Without a clear onboarding workflow, you’re bound to forget something--no matter how many times you’ve gone through it. Click To Tweet
Automate the onboarding process
You’re bound to forget something if it doesn’t happen automatically. Set up your welcome letter and your questionnaire requesting information from the client to happen automatically. You’ll save yourself time and frustration and look put-together and professional to the client. Be sure to create a questionnaire specific to each type of service you offer so every client feels like the process is personalized.
Identify communication preferences
Because you have a workflow and processes in place, you also have a clearly defined process for communicating with your clients. (Right!?) Be sure to let your new clients know how to communicate with you so you can best serve them. If you use Slack or another management system, set your client up and provide instructions on how to use it. If you’ll have regular calls with your client, provide a link to your scheduling system. And if you prefer to communicate via email or text, let your client know.Save yourself and clients time and frustration. Set up communication preferences early in your relationship. Click To Tweet
Deliver on time
This should go without saying, but the best way to “wow” a client is to over-deliver exactly what they paid for–on time or early. Set a deadline based on the scope of the project and the information needed from the client and communicate that deadline, as well as how the project will be delivered. And then make good on that promise. However, if you determine you can’t meet the deadline let the client know as soon as possible. Communication is key!
Skip the gifts and focus on service
There’s a common trend among online business owners to tie a tangible gift with client experience. I subscribed to this thought camp for a while too, wanting to surprise my clients with goodies either at the beginning of our relationship or during the holidays. But we’re in business for…well, business. And candies, books and soaps don’t make the client process any more successful. Instead, I choose to focus on exceptional client service rather than thinking about the ROI of a pricey gift (that, candidly, most clients don’t need or want anyway).
The experience your clients have with you and your business determine whether you retain a client, or they go elsewhere. Start off on the right foot and make sure you’re communicating so no client ever feels in the dark.