Put yourself in your client’s shoes and picture this:
You just signed a contract with the interior designer you LOVED to handle the kitchen revamp you’ve dreamt about since you moved in.
You’re riddled with nerves, excited beyond belief, and ITCHING to get started…
But you have no idea what comes next.
Do I wait for the first email?
What does my designer need from me to get started?
Who’s Natalie and why is she emailing me from Lisa’s office?
Throw in a dozen more questions and there you have it: An onboarding experience that leaves clients confused and overwhelmed before the project even starts.
The thing is, your onboarding process plays a huge role in the overall client experience because it sets the tone for the rest of the project.
Instead of leaving your clients directionless from the jump, put your best foot forward with a Welcome Guide that equips them with everything they need to get started and feel supported from day one.
Remember: The more you communicate—dare we say, overcommunicate—with your clients, the fewer questions and requests they will have for you throughout your working relationship.
That said, here are all our Welcome Guide must-haves!
In our opinion, this should be a given! You should take the time to write a personal thank you note for every client that believes in your work enough to sign the dotted line. After all, any show of support should be met with gratitude—and what better way to kick off a new client relationship than with a personal touch that makes for a killer first impression?
You could go above and beyond by mailing a brief, handwritten thank you card.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “you teach people how to treat you” and that applies to client relationships as well. You can set the standard for client communication with a section in your guide that lays out your office policies so they know how you prefer to operate. This will also set expectations early on and prevent miscommunications.
Here’s what to consider including:
The guiding principles or fundamental beliefs at the heart of your business.
The action-based statement that describes how you serve your clients and the purpose of your business.
Guidelines for Scheduling Meetings
Do you prefer to use a scheduler like Calendly? Is there a person on your team that handles appointments? Share the protocol for how and when clients should schedule meetings with you.
Let your clients know when you’re in the office, when they can expect a response, and when they can contact you for support.
Preferred Methods of Communication
Providing a Google phone number that’s strictly for business instead of handing out your cell number will help you keep your work life separate from your business life. Voxer is a great alternative as well.
Consider emailing each client a weekly status report to keep them in the loop. You can also send emails for each new phase of their project that breaks down what they should expect. Both of these sorts of emails can be automotated, of course!
Share more about your brand and design business by dedicating a section to your team. This gives your clients the opportunity to form a deeper connection with your business—because that’s what seeing faces and hearing stories do!—and it shows them who they will be working within the near future.
First-time clients may not be familiar with billing practices that are common in the design industry, so offering a detailed explanation will go a LONG way.
Be sure to explain the following:
Be clear about whether or not they are expected to pay upfront, a 50% fee due to purchase, or if you will collect a retainer.
Most importantly, you should inform your clients of when they will be billed at each stage of their project and for what. Trust us, it’s best to steer clear of sticker shock!
Be proactive and answer common questions upfront. By anticipating questions and concerns, and addressing them before you get started, you’ll make your clients feel right at home. The added effort will reinforce the idea that you’re the expert and hiring you was THE best decision they could have made for their design needs.
To wrap up your Welcome Guide, end with a singular important call to action that puts the ball in their court. You can instruct your clients to book their first meeting, complete a questionnaire, or anything else that will help move them along in their journey. Don’t leave them hanging; that alone will score you plenty of brownie points.
Implementing a Client Welcome Guide will instantly elevate your client experience, help your clients feel more comfortable, and give them something to rave about to their friends and family.
Go give them something to talk about!
P.S. If you need an extra hand nailing down the smooth-as-butter onboarding process of your dreams, send us an email so we can chat about what collaborating would look like.
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