Being in business for yourself — any kind of business — is an act of creativity, and a leap of faith.
Stepping out into the great unknown, relying solely on your own wits, talents, and skills? That’s heady stuff, and it’s the same force at work that fuels great art.
We’re all basically artists in the sense that we’re creating our businesses and our lives from the ground up, every single day.
We edit what’s not working, we create new “scenes” when something’s lacking, we rehearse our elevator pitches and we perform every time we interact with a client.
Why not take that principle one step further and apply it to your clients and customers?
Why Script Your Client’s Experience With Your Business?
The advantages to taking a creative and proactive approach to the client experience are fairly obvious. Word-of-mouth advertising and referrals from existing clients & customers are two of the most reliable and most valuable sources of future business for any small business, especially solos and creatives.
Creating a good experience — controlling your brand’s interplay with the people who pay you — improves your rate of both return and referred business.
Creating an amazing experience? That wins you raving fans, the kind that become brand ambassadors for your business, tell all their friends on Facebook about you, share your links and your portfolio on Twitter, and recommend you to all their coworkers.
Detective Work: Pretend You’re Your Own Client
Looking at the experience your clients have with you and your business, from your client’s perspective, yields some priceless information that you can’t get anywhere else. That information is critical if you want to create a better experience for your clients.
Start at the very beginning. That’s not the first phone call, by the way — that’s the very first time your client hears about you or reads about you on the internet. What does that look like, from the client’s perspective? Examine your website with fresh eyes, your Twitter feed, your Facebook page . . . what’s broken? What’s clear? What’s fuzzy? What’s exciting? What moves the client to the next step?
Now move on to the first communications with you or your office, staff, agent, etc. How is the client greeted or welcomed? What impressions does she get when she walks into your office, store, studio?
Walk through the process of your client’s interactions with your business. With whom do they communicate primarily? What image does that person project? How do they treat the client or customer? Is that person projecting and protecting your business’s brand?
What happens after the sale is closed or the services rendered? What does your invoice look like? Does it communicate the information the client needs to feel good about paying the bill? What kind of follow-up do you do? Thank you notes? Further email or postcards about current promotions or developments that impact the client’s interests? A holiday card? Anything? Nothing?
Write the Script of the Client’s Experience
Every good script needs a plot, characters with conflict, and a beginning, middle and end. Keep that in mind as you review the intelligence you just gathered.
Ask yourself at each point of connection and interaction what you can do, or what you can get others to do, to turn each client into a raving fan. I can share the following suggestions about specific places to focus on:
- Does your website need an overhaul, or does the copy just need to be tweaked?
- Does your site clearly communicate who you are, what you do, and why you’re better at it than anyone else?
- What’s the very first split-second impression clients get of your office or store or studio? Look critically, with a director’s eye for detail, at things like the lighting; availability and comfort of seating; the way the space encourages or discourages wandering and taking it all in; the temperature of the room; the smells in the room; in waiting areas, whether clients/customers have something to do or read while they wait; the condition of any furnishings; the impression the artwork on the walls conveys; the expressions on the faces of any staff members.
- How are your phones answered or customers greeted when they walk in the store?
- Is there any information your clients/customers need that they don’t get? Or that they get too late, or in the wrong format? Can you tweak your deliverables and marketing materials to provide that information more elegantly?
- Are you asking for feedback and referrals at the end of every transaction? If not, how can you implement that process in a way that puts clients/customers at ease and makes them want to say nice things about you to others?
- Can you improve what happens after the client has received what she paid for? What can you do that makes the client think, “Wow, no one’s ever done that before — how awesome!”?
Take your answers to those questions and begin to create a new and improved client script.
Once you’ve got that narrative fleshed out on paper, use it to create new written policies for staff and employees, or yourself, if you’re a solo or artist — why not? We all find it easier to implement change when we have clear directions and written instructions, right?
Putting your most critical creative skills to work creating a client script that produces raving fans is a lengthy and involved process, to be sure, but the dividends it pays are the ones we’re all seeking: clients that rave about you to their friends and coworkers, increased repeat business, more referrals, and a healthy bottom line.