Customer care is at a premium in modern society to the extent that it is just as important (if not more) as price when people are making decisions. The average client is inclined to pay more for a VIP experience, but they need businesses to step up and make it worthwhile.
So, what can a business do to amplify the brand experience and create a truly unforgettable client journey? It’s all in your touchpoints.
It doesn’t matter what service or product you provide to the market, a transactional relationship just won’t do. When exchanging money for goods, a customer can go anywhere for that and will start judging by price. If your competitors are at a lower price point, they will choose them because there is nothing else to differentiate between your brands.
By building intentional and value-driven touchpoints throughout your client experience, you are providing every single customer with more than just a product or service. You are welcoming them into a brand, a community and a lasting relationship. Here are the eight touchpoints that will immerse your clients in a holistic brand experience that will win them over as lifelong clients:
This is an obvious one, but arguably the most important one on the list! Responding to inquiries in a friendly and enthusiastic manner tells potential clients that you are excited to work together. In your reply, make sure you are providing value beyond simply answering their questions. Share some answers to your most frequently asked questions or attach a helpful guide with the sole purpose of being a resource (not just a sales tool). Show your potential clients that you already care about their needs, even before you’ve discussed booking. A great inquiry response will win you the sales call, which is where magic happens.
Pro Tip: Be prompt in your replies, keeping it to 24 hours or less. (Aim for six hours or less, if possible!)
A sales call isn’t about spitting out a rehearsed script of your business’ offerings. It’s about the person on the other side of the conversation! This touchpoint is all about being an active listener and tuning into what your client needs.
If your sales meeting is in-person, consider taking it up a notch by setting the scene. Keep your meeting room or office neat, with pictures, videos or samples of your work on display. Fill it with comfortable furniture that invites them to stay awhile. Offer refreshments as they enter and be prepared with any printed materials for the meeting. A few extra steps on your end (which can be streamlined internally) can make all the difference in your client’s mind!
Signing a contract is one of the vital steps along the client’s journey. Use your online contract to communicate all of the important aspects of your agreement, detailing the process, timeline and payment info, as well as your boundaries. This is the best time to set crystal clear expectations of how your working relationship will evolve.
To enhance the experience and save your client time and energy, opt for a digital e-contract they can sign and submit from the comfort of their smartphone. Then, prepare an automated email sequence using a client workflow automation software to welcome them to your brand experience, throwing in a few freebies if you can.
The length of the onboarding process will vary depending on the product or service you provide, but every client should be channeled into a welcome experience. Consider how you can bridge the gap between signing the contract and ramping up on the work.
Share a simple thank you email that gives them instructions and sets expectations for a product they’ve purchased, before linking to your testimonials page. Or, a weeks-long process filled with questionnaires and meetings so you can get to know them before starting a custom service.
Keeping your clients up-to-speed with regular status updates prevents the question: “When can I expect my XYZ to be delivered?” Depending on your offerings, these check-ins could be simple automated emails that let them know about processing, shipping and delivery expectations.
For more hands-on projects, consider establishing regular meetings every few weeks to share updates about where you are in the process. If you’re more tech-inclined, look into collaborative project management software that you can invite your clients and communicate with them through a small business management platform like HoneyBook.
Surprise and Delight
Surprise-and-delight touchpoints are all about going above and beyond expectations. It’s the free add-on you throw in to sweeten the deal or the thoughtful gift you send to share your appreciation for them.
The best way to manage is to be proactive in the early stages of your relationships. Use your questionnaire to get to know more about their personality and what you could do to make them smile. Include a question about their favorite color, food or type of wine. Gather the information you need upfront and when it comes time to surprise-and-delight, you’ll have everything you need to pick out the perfect gift or add-on for them.
While onboarding often gets a lot of credit, many independent business owners and freelancers tend to skip over the offboarding process and move on to the next customer in line. But offboarding is where you can encourage your client to reflect on the wonderful experience they just completed and, most importantly, it’s where you can ask for reviews.
Offboarding doesn’t need to be as intensive as onboarding, but it does need to serve as a way to transition your clients out of your brand experience. Otherwise, they might feel like they’ve been dropped like a hot potato. When you have provided all of your deliverables, send an email to thank them for their business and include links to your review sites. Also, don’t be shy to ask if they have additional needs coming up!
Pro Tip: If you want to go the extra mile, send a handwritten thank-you note instead of an email, it will end the working relationship on a sweet note!
How often do you follow up with past clients to see if you can provide additional services? The follow-up touchpoint is one of the most overlooked steps in the client experience. But it’s time to break this cycle.
During the offboarding process, make sure to follow your clients on social media so you can remain connected after they move on. Engage with them online and check in with them via email every few months to see how they’re doing. Not only does this open the door for return business, but you’ll also be top-of-mind for referrals to their friends and family! Using a CRM for solopreneurs will really help you with this step.
While the number and timing of your touchpoints will vary depending on your business model, these eight touchpoints are must-haves in your client experience. When you build intention into your brand journey, you will wow your clients and grow your business!