Follow these easy tips to ensure that your clients feel good about working with your firm
If you want to encourage clients to recommend your business or use you for future projects, you need to focus on more than just the finished renovation. While a high-quality end result is, of course, vital, it’s also important to ensure the whole process is enjoyable.
You can do this by paying attention to how you communicate with customers all the way through a project. Read on for some simple ways to give your clients a stress-free experience with you and your team.
Stay in Touch
The key to great customer service is communication, as this is really the only way you’ll build a good relationship with your client. Intermittent check-ins won’t really cut the mustard. If you want your customers to feel reassured, you’ll need to be available throughout a project.
“Communication is very important and we’ve adapted to ensure this can either be face to face or virtual as the client prefers,” Angus Eitel of fiftypointeight Architecture & Interiors says. “As the project progresses, more face-to-face communication is needed.”
He explains the importance of frequent meetings when the project is on site. This avoids too much progress being made without the client having the opportunity to see whether what’s being built is what they were expecting.
Be Clear and Concise
To avoid the possibility of crossed wires, it pays to lay out plans and costs formally ahead of a project.
“One of the first paid pieces of work we do is an outline budget covering approximate figures, and a timeline for the planning, preparation and implementation stages,” Cat Hoad of Absolute Project Management says. “This really helps to set expectations and enables clients to understand the processes and the ‘hidden’ costs.”
Eitel advises a similar plan of action and sends clients an online form to gather information about the potential project straight after the initial inquiry.
“Essentially, this is the first stage in creating a brief,” he says. “We then break our service and fee down into a stage-by-stage process…. We seek approval at the end of each stage prior to progressing to the next.”
Eitel also recommends giving clients written information about working with an architect so they have a clear understanding of the process.
To make this process easier, try using Houzz Pro management software. With this, you can quickly create and share floor plans, proposals, invoices and schedules with your client for their immediate approval.
Be realistic with your clients to avoid disappointment and complaints further down the line.
“We are really clear in our preliminary conversations with clients, and in our terms and conditions, about what we do — and importantly what we don’t do,” Hoad says.
“In particular, we explain that we aim to make the design, planning and implementation aspects of renovation projects go as smoothly as possible, but that we aren’t an ‘insurance policy.’ Renovation, especially of your own house, is often still stressful, messy and expensive, and often takes longer than clients expect, so we can’t remove all of that.”
“Allowing sufficient time is vital,” Eitel says. “There’s often a desire or a requirement on the client’s side to complete the project as quickly as possible. We try to ensure enough time is made available for each stage of the project. Starting work on site without sufficient information can only lead to time extensions or increased costs.”
Boyd A. Rourke, Brinc Design
Show Your Human Side
Professionalism is essential, but, for Amy Dhala of Decorbuddi, it’s also important to show your informal side to clients.
“All our team are capable of high-quality design work, but as important to us is that they’re genuinely nice people,” she says. “We don’t do airs and graces and are open and honest.”
Dhala says you can build trust and understanding by providing different relationships within the firm. For example, a strong personal relationship with a local designer, backed up by product and service specialists as needed.
Burr & McCallum Architects
Customer service shouldn’t stop as soon as a project is finished, particularly if you’re hoping your client will leave a good review or use your firm again. A client might be happy with the project at first, but if you don’t attend to issues they notice later, the good feeling might quickly subside.
“We’re increasing our understanding and engagement in post-occupancy evaluation — that is, reviewing the project on completion, possibly a number of months after completion, to see what works, what needs a review, what could have been done differently,” Eitel says.
“This ensures we’re constantly learning from our projects,” he continues. “It may be that the client doesn’t understand the complex systems now being installed in domestic properties and some simple tweaks are required to ensure those systems are being used as efficiently as possible.”
Tell us: What helps your team provide good customer service? Share your ideas in the Comments.