What is the client experience?
The client experience is the path you take your lead / client through when working with them, and it starts the moment they contact you enquiring about a service. Anything before that, the attraction stage, is part of your marketing plan and marketing strategy is not my area of expertise! So, we’re not going to cover the attraction stage here.
Why do I need to know the 5 stages?
Most of the people I work with have the delivery part perfected, but neglect the rest. That is a massive mistake!
Every single part of the client experience should be treated with the same level of care and attention as the other. No one part deserves more attention than the other. Because having a well rounded experience for all five stages will set you apart from your competitors.
And don’t be thinking that just because you provide your clients with an amazing end product that you can also ignore all the other four stages.
I can bet that you’ve been in a restaurant that had sub-par food, but because the atmosphere was just right, the lights weren’t too bright, the music not too loud, the waiters the right level of attentive, the bathrooms smelt divine, you go back to that restaurant over and over for that sub-par food. You goal, the food, is just ok…but you go back because the overall experience just lights your soul on fire.
Don’t get me wrong, you should never aim for sub-par when it comes to the actual product you deliver. But when you add in all the other little magic touches, you turn something average into something amazing. So, imagine if you had something amazing and added in all those little magic touches…your clients would love on you super hard, right?
The first step to creating a referral-worthy client experience (and yes, happy clients equals referrals) is to understand the five stages, what they are, when they happen and what the purpose of them is.
So, let’s get into what the 5 stages of the client experience are…
Stage 01: The Enquiry Stage
Starts: This starts when someone reaches your lead capture / contact form on your contact page of your website and they fill it in. Or when someone books directly to have a call with you. Or someone simply emails you asking you about your service(s).
Ends: And it goes through to the point where you have a discovery call with them.
Purpose: The purpose of the enquiry stage is to vet your leads - to make sure you have attracted the right kind of lead, and to make sure you are not getting on a call with someone who is never going to book your services.
Make sure you set those boundaries from the very start - let them know instantly where and how to contact you and when to expect a reply.
Make sure you are asking the correct questions to get the right answer to help you vet your leads. However, don’t bombard your lead with a million and one questions - a long contact form may put some people off.
Only ask the questions you REALLY need to know at this stage. Nope, we don’t need to know your dog’s birthday if you are a website designer…well, not unless you have been hired to create a birthday website for a dog…Is that a thing?!?!?
Make sure you are clear on your call about the process you will take them through. Share your screen, if you're on a Zoom call, and show them a branded graphic of a timeline to help them visualise.
Stage 02: The Booking Stage
Starts: After you've had your discovery call. If you don't need to have a discovery call with your lead, this might be where your workflow starts.
Ends: If they book with you, this stage ends once they have confirmed the proposal, signed the contract and made the deposit. If they don't book with you then this stage ends once you have followed up with them and they have officially become a cold lead.
Purpose: The obvious purpose of this stage is to convert your lead to a client.
This is where you need to give your client ALL the details about what you will be providing for them. Make sure your proposal includes detailed deliverables.
Use your proposal as a way to showcase yourself and your business - add in testimonials, previous client work.
Make sure your contract is water-tight!
Don't be scared to follow up if your client goes quiet after sending a proposal. Life happens, emails get bumped to the bottom of the pile. Just because they haven't replied yet doesn't mean they don't want to work with you.
Stage 03: The Onboarding Stage
You may have heard people talk about the onboarding stage and they talk as if it includes the enquiry, booking and onboarding...I STRONGLY beg to differ about this wording. These three stages all serve very different purposes, so I keep them separate.
Starts: So, this starts after they have accepted their proposal / quote, signed the contract and made the deposit.
Ends: And it runs all the way up until you actually start the project. Sometimes this can be the space of a day, or sometimes months, depending on whether you have a waitlist.
Purpose: To prepare them for the start of the project. And also to keep them hyped to start working with you.
This is where I think it’s best to send your client a gift - whilst they’re still in the super excited phase, just boost that up even more with an unexpected gift! Because, if they’ve just spent a lot of money to work with you, you need to keep them excited that they haven’t just made a massive mistake!
Even if they need to wait months to work with you, try and find ways to keep them feeling loved, definitely don’t go quiet otherwise they might think you’ve done a runner!
Keep them informed of what will happen next, and if you do have a space of time when you will go quiet, let them know this. It’s all about expectations, not just this stage, but all of them. A confused client will be a scared client. A well informed client will be a happy client.
Stage 04: The Delivery Stage
Starts: Day 1 of the project.
Ends: When the project is complete and you hand over the deliverables. This could be the space of a day, a week, a month or even a year.
Purpose: To deliver the agreed scope of works.
Think of fun, interesting ways in which you can present the end deliverable.
If you work on a retainer basis, think of ways to check-in with your clients at set intervals - maybe you can add in either weekly, monthly or quarterly check-in calls and have a quick chat about business and life in general.
Stage 05: The Offboarding Stage
Starts: After the project is complete.
Ends: Whenever you want it to! Maybe you offer 30 days support following the project. Maybe you like to send a catch-up email after 3 months to see how they’re getting on. Maybe you like to send a project anniversary gift.
Purpose: To close off the project. To nurture them so that they can come back to work with you again.
Leave them on a high-note! Don’t let the last experience they have of you being silence now they’ve paid up! Remember, this is the last thing they are going to remember of working with you, so don’t let it be confusing silence. Soooo many of the people I work with have never had an off-boarding experience for their clients, and I see it in so many different industries also. I’ve been a part of a high-ticket group coaching program and at the end they had zero offboarding, they missed a trick there. They had the chance to treat me like I was valued and even sell me on rejoining. It left me feeling not so positive about the whole experience I’d had in the program. Don’t let your clients feel the same way.
ALWAYS get feedback - this is different from getting a testimonial. Feedback is internal and is all about how you have provided your service to them.
Instead of asking for a testimonial, ask them if they'd like to get featured on your website/social media. This reframe sounds a lot more tempting to people!
Are you ready to start up levelling your client experience?
Want help with your client experience? Book a 20-min call where we can chat about how we can create that referral-worthy client experience.