The Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Client Experience
You worked your butt off to close that amazing dream client, and now it’s time to get to work! You’re feeling pretty amped up, right? So what’s the best way to move forward with a client experience that makes the client falls in love with you? As freelancers or contract consultants, we ultimately want to work with high-quality clients that come back to us over and over again. Using myself as a guinea pig, I have tested dozens of strategies for creating the optimal client experience. Based on the results, I’ve crafted this nifty little guide to improving your client experience AND make sure they keep coming back (to you) for more!
When working with clients (especially new ones), my goal is to WOW them. I want them to be so impressed that they wouldn’t dream of working with any other UX designer (my field) except me, ever again.
The best way to accomplish this is to roll out the red carpet. Make them feel special; make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
I want my client experience to feel heavenly. I want my clients to know that I care for their business/company/product as if they were mine. I want my clients to feel like I’m in their corner, that they can count on me and depend on me to hold up my end of the bargain.
Demonstrating all of this to new clients begins immediately – as the contract is being signed.
Without further ado, here is your ultimate guide to crafting the ideal client experience. This guide is constructed in chronological order from the beginning of a project to the end of a project.
Step 1 | Get Contract Signed via HelloSign
As soon as you and your new client have a contract you agree on. Send the document for them to sign via a document signature platform. I use HelloSign, but DocuSign is a great alternative as well.
Sending documents for signature through an eSignature tool is a must when it comes to crafting the best client experience.
It not only tells clients that you are professional and up-to-date, but it also tells them that you care about their experience.
If you hadn’t sent the contract through HelloSign for example, they would have had to PRINT out the contract, sign it with a physical pen, scan it, and email it back to you. Imagine how much time a process like that would take!
You’re giving an already busy person way more work to do when you’ve already agreed upon an engagement with them!
The first rule in onboarding clients effectively is to make the whole process as easy as possible for them. You want them to feel like working with you is effortless! So, if you don’t use an eSignature tool yet, please go get one right now 😉
Step 2 | Send them a PDF Timeline
An essential part of a superior client experience is setting expectations when it comes to the timeline. Typically, you’ve already agreed upon a timeline in previous conversations and this PDF should be a reiteration with concrete dates attached to it. I recommend compiling this in some type of table or spreadsheet and sharing it with your client as you start a new project.
The reason this step is so important to creating an optimal client experience is because you always want to be on the same page when it comes to due dates and deadlines. Creating timelines shows the new client that you care about their time, energy, and money. It shows them that you will be respectful of those resources and make sure to be timely with your own work.
Be sure to update the timeline anytime the project changes in a major way and keep an open line of communication regarding due dates.
Step 3 | Have a Kick-Off Call
Ready to get this project started? Projects that I work on end up being most successful when I take the time to have a kick off call with my new client. Doing this kick-off improves the client experience because it helps my clients feel like I’m well equipped to start the project.
So this is how it works…
As I’m ready to start the client’s project, I schedule a video conference call (or in person meeting) with them so that I can chat with them and ask questions around the project I’m slated to complete. I want the client to feel like they had a big part in contributing to my part of the project. I want them to feel like I took their ideas and turned them into the reality. This is powerful because now, whatever I create, the client is more likely to like – because they feel like they had hand in it.
I also want to be sure that the client feels heard. I want my new client to feel as if I have all the knowledge and information I would need to complete their projects successfully.
I want them to feel like they can do a knowledge transfer and then put this project out of their minds, because I’m taking care of it for them.
Step 4 | Let them know you like feedback early and often
I’ve pulled this guideline out as a step of its own because it has been vital to creating the best client experience.
Whenever I’m onboarding clients, I tell them explicitly that I like to work in iterations. I let them know that I’m going to be showing them in-progress work so that I can get feedback from them early and often. This way, we don’t end up with a finished product that my client hates. (Yes, this has happened to me before *facepalm*)
My recommendation is to take a moment whether it is in person, via video chat, or on the phone, to let your client know that you will be checking in with them for their input along the way. (By the way, if you don’t already check in with your clients often, PLEASE start doing so now.) Your clients will love the transparency and progress updates.
Clients love to know the status of their projects. Think about it – they are paying their hard earned money to someone else for their services. So of course they want regular opportunities to chime in with their thoughts. Wouldn’t you?
Feedback early and often is a must if you really want to roll out the red carpet and create a dream client experience. Many contractors and freelancers don’t follow this rule of thumb… which means that if you do, you’ll keep them coming back to you again and again. Yay for repeat biz!
Step 5 | Send them weekly check-in emails
For any longer term clients (think projects longer than 3 weeks), I always send progress update emails on a weekly basis. As I mentioned before, creating that open path of communication and transparency gives your clients the chance to let out a sigh of relief. They will know at all times that their project is going well and they will more than appreciate you for it.
To create this ideal client experience, I’ll always mention to clients that I’m going to be sending weekly updates. Typically, my update emails are simple. They consist of the following:
- Hours worked (if the project is hourly)
- Timeline updates (if anything needs to be adjusted)
- Project pieces completed
- Any roadblocks that have come up
Some client projects are large enough and they warrant a weekly meeting (in addition to an email). I usually hold these meetings to have a feedback session over work I’ve already completed so that I can move forward knowing that the client is happy with the progress. Sometimes clients are busy and don’t respond to emails, so having a meeting forces them to sit down and be thoughtful about their ideas/feedback regarding my work.
If I decide to use a meeting for weekly updates, I always set up a recurring meeting (for simplicity) and invite the appropriate stakeholders.
Step 6 | Gather + Send Deliverables
As you’re nearing the end of your project, it’s time to think about the method of delivery. Any artifacts, documents, or files that you’ve created for your client should be shared with them as the project wraps up.
In my experience, the easiest way to do this is through a cloud file sharing service like Dropbox or Google Drive. I prefer to send Dropbox links because I find the tool to be easier to work with for me and my team.
The simple way to do this is to craft an email and add in the Dropbox link to the folder where all of your final deliverables live. Remind your clients to download the files or save them to their Dropbox so they will always have access to them. This is a simple touch, but sending a separate and clear email is a fabulous finishing touch to elevate your client experience.
Sending files like this is a fantastic way to signal to your client that the project is complete and they will be receiving an invoice shortly.
Step 7 | Have a wrap-up call, if needed
Once you’ve sent off your neatly packaged deliverables, you may decide to have a client wrap-up call. I don’t always do wrap-up call with clients because they have been updated on most details they need already.
However, if your client needs tips on how to implement your work or access your files, it’s a good idea to set up a call and chat with them briefly. This will cap off their already five-star client experience and give them the satisfaction of knowing their project has been all tied up in a pretty bow.
This is also a great opportunity to thank your client for their business and let them know how much you enjoyed working with them.
Step 8 | Do an off-boarding survey
Once you’ve completed sending your client the project deliverables and having a wrap-up phone call, I recommend sending your client an off-boarding survey.
This off-boarding survey can be a powerful tool for you to solicit feedback from your clients. This is a chance for you to learn about the client experience overall and how you can improve it. You’ll get a great pulse on what’s going well and what’s not going well.
In order to optimize any experience, even a client experience, data is important. This is your way to get that data!
The simplest way to construct an off-boarding survey is through Google Forms or Typeform. Both tools are easy to set up and use. If you’re on a budget, then I recommend Google Forms since it’s free!
Here are some questions you could include in your off-boarding client experience survey:
- What was your favorite thing about working with [insert your company name here]?
- What was your least favorite thing about working with [insert your company name here]?
- What (if anything) do you wish you could change about your experience while working with [insert your company name here]?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend [insert your company name here] to a friend or colleague?
Step 9 | Ask for a referral and/or testimonial
Once you’ve received results for your off-boarding survey, take a moment to review them. If the client has given you positive feedback, then it’s a great idea to ask them for a referral or testimonial.
I recommend asking for both a referral and a testimonial.
If a client has experienced a positive client experience while working with you, they will more likely than not be thrilled to sing your praises to the world. Not to mention, getting clients via referrals is the BEST and most efficient way to get new clients!
So, how do you ask for referrals and testimonials? You can let the client know in person or on the phone that you are going to do so and then send them an email reiterating the request. The best way to ensure success is to make it dead simple for them to do both of these things for you.
In the email you write, be sure to include a few key things:
- Make the ask for the referral – be quick, but polite
- Add a blurb about you and your company that you’ve already written in 3rd person for your client to copy and paste when they send to their friends
- Make the ask for a testimonial – ask them if it’s okay to quote them
- Add 2-3 bullet points of things you’ve done to add value to this client that they can use in their testimonial.
- If you know your client is an extremely busy person, I highly recommend employing this tactic by Ramit Sethi to get a great testimonial faster
So, what was your favorite step in the ultimate guide to improving your client experience? Do you use any other tactics in your business? I’d love to hear! Let me know by replying to this email or commenting below.