I recently tried out a new gym and hated it. The class was energetic, I got a good workout, and the space was clean and well-kept, so what was the problem? The customer service was terrible. When I eagerly walked in, high on a fresh cup of coffee and ready to get my butt-sweat on, I wasn’t greeted at all by the distracted front desk worker and wasn’t shown around the gym. I haphazardly approached the faux turf wondering if this is where I should be? I awkwardly stood to the side as other lycra-clad members trickled in, knowing exactly where to fill up their water bottle and put their things. I felt uncomfortable and unwelcome—like I didn’t belong. No one said hello. No one gave me instructions on what to expect.
After fumbling through the workout I stumbled to the parking lot in a disappointed endorphined daze vowing not to return. As I sat in my car wondering where I had gone wrong and why my experience felt starkly different from the 5 star ratings on their Google account, I thought to myself about how things could have been better.
Creating a culture of client experience excellence is critical to the success of any small business. After all, your clients are the lifeblood of your company, and providing them with an exceptional experience is essential for building a loyal customer base. Whether it’s a solid workout or selling a product, your customer’s journey is so important.
Read on as we discuss nine strategies for creating a memorable client experience that will keep your clients buzzing with excitement about your brand, even longer than a workout high lasts.
How to Create a Culture of Client Experience Excellence:
1. Listen & Learn: Understand Your Client’s Needs
Upon my arrival, the front desk staff could have asked what my fitness goals were. Why was I there? What were my motivations or interests for wanting to book a class in the first place? One of the most important strategies for creating a memorable client experience is to understand your client’s needs. This means taking the time to listen to your clients and learn about their goals and challenges. If you’ve become accustomed to using a templated strategy, it’s time to say goodbye to this, dust off your thinking cap and get down and dirty to a place where you can create a customized strategy that is specifically catered to your client’s needs.
2. Personalize Your Interactions
Personalization goes beyond just understanding your client’s needs and is the key to creating a memorable client experience. Addressing your clients by name and using personalized communication will make them feel valued and appreciated and in return, will greatly improve your retention rates. Did they just get a new dog? Ask them about it! Do they have travel plans? Send them a few recommendations.
Personalization can be used in various ways, such as offering customized product recommendations, sending personalized emails and even offering personalized rewards programs. At the heart of it, it’s really the idea of treating your clients like individuals rather than just another customer. By making an effort to personalize your interactions, you can create a lasting impression and foster a strong sense of loyalty.
For example, the fitness facility could have used my name in class or even sent a personalized thank you post-class as a nice touch. At Honey Creative, we curate a Communication Questionnaire before our big rebrand projects to send to clients and request their preferences on how they’d like to work together throughout the project. Prefer via Zoom? Feedback via notes? Our job is to personalize it to each client.
3. Be Responsive
Ok this one seems like a no-brainer and I will say the gym was pretty responsive when I reached out to book online. But being responsive is another critical strategy for creating a memorable client experience. Your clients want to feel that their needs are being met promptly, and they can count on you to respond to their requests in a timely manner.
While your client or customer may not be your only one, they certainly want to feel like they are. We try our best to follow the general rule of a 48 hour response time. This means that we aim to respond to client emails/calls within 48 hours of receipt and if the email includes a question or a problem, we strive to have it resolved within a reasonable timeframe (and we communicate expectations!).
4. Provide Consistent Service
Providing consistent service is essential for building a loyal customer base. Your clients should feel confident that they will receive the same level of service every time they interact with your brand. While a client may not be your only client, they certainly would love to feel like they are. This means from your initial consultation to ongoing support you’re responding in a timely manner, producing quality work each and every time and delivering on your promises. Which leads us to our next strategy…..
5. Deliver on Your Promises
Before I booked the fitness class, they mentioned a facility tour on their website. What didn’t I get when I arrived? Yep, a tour of the toilets. When you run and operate a small business, especially in the beginning phases, it can be tempting to take on more work than you’re capable of producing and biting off more than you can chew. However, this is the quickest and easiest way that your business can fail if you are overpromising things you can not deliver on. Make sure you are clear about what you can deliver, and then follow through on your commitments. This is the cornerstone of a solid client relationship!
6. Anticipate Client Needs
During the class, the instructor could have set out some suggested weights before an exercise. By understanding your client’s business and their goals, you can anticipate their needs and proactively offer solutions that meet their requirements. We always like to say that our clients are paying us to be strategic partners. We strive to be proactive, rather than reactive and make it our goal to be the ones to approach them first when it comes to new ideas, discuss what’s next with our plans and so on. Make it your goal to always be one step ahead in providing solutions and that right there will exceed their expectations.
7. Show Your Appreciation
Who doesn’t love to feel the love?! Whether it’s a thank-you note or a small gift, demonstrating your gratitude will make your clients feel valued and appreciated – and happy clients are the best clients! They return time and time again, recommend your brand to their peers and publicly sing your praises. Small gestures show you care and ensure clients feel special, which ultimately leads to long-term loyalty and improved client retention.
Another gym I went to sent out a personalized thank you note card addressed to my house. How thoughtful! They got me sold!
A few other client appreciation ideas include:
- Handwritten thank you notes (emphasis on the handwritten part!)
- Feature clients on your blog or social media
- Ship a meaningful gift
- Launch a loyalty program
- Implement customers’ feedback (and tell them you did)
- Send a virtual gift card
- Show customers you share their values
- Send personalized communications
8. Solicit Feedback
The shitty gym did send an auto email requesting ‘a five-star review’ (pretty presumptuous if you ask me!) along with a feedback form. I let them know my honest thoughts about my experience which did make me feel a bit better however, no one followed up with me about my feedback.
Taking a proactive approach to collecting customer feedback ensures you never stray too far from the needs of your community, even as those needs evolve. Feedback from your clients is a very powerful guide that can give your team insights to chart a path forward. That feedback feeds into every part of your company – from product through UX, customer support and customer satisfaction. Every business should want to know what they’re getting right and wrong. Whether it’s positive or negative feedback, you can find the gems that make it easier to adjust and adapt the customer experience over time.
9. Be Authentic
You may not be able to control what your customers say about you, but you can certainly influence it. The key? Authentic customer interactions. Being authentic is critical for building trust and credibility with your clients. Your clients want to work with a brand that is genuine and transparent, and not a faceless bureaucratic machine. Stay true to yourself and your brand, even if it gets tempting to stray from that. For Honey, that’s being our true weirdo selves and cussing a little during our consult calls. It’s a great way to get a read on the potential client to see if we’re the right fit.
Create Your Culture of Client Experience Excellence
Creating a culture of client experience excellence is essential for the success of any small business. By understanding your client’s needs, personalizing your interactions, being responsive, providing consistent service, delivering on your promises, anticipating client needs, showing your appreciation, soliciting feedback, being authentic, and creating a community, you can create a memorable client experience that will keep your clients buzzing with excitement about your brand.
At Honey Creative, we strive to embody these ten strategies in everything we do, so our clients feel valued, appreciated, and part of our hive. We hope these strategies will help you create a memorable client experience that will set your small business apart and help you build a loyal customer base.