Have you ever been faced with having to make decisions about where you wanted to eat? I’m sure you have. Sometimes it’s easy to make the decision right off the bat because you know exactly what you want.
But what about those times where you don’t have something specific in mind - you just know what you like and what you’re going for? There’s plenty of good options out there, so how do you narrow down exactly which restaurant you’re going to choose?
Chances are high that the expectations that have been set based on past client experiences will largely influence your decision.
Client experience is something that we as wedding industry professionals have to pay attention to. Taking care to create WOW factor will not only knock the socks off your clients, but also keep bringing business back to you because your clients will be telling everyone they know about their top-notch experience.
Here are six ways that I’ve worked at developing my client experience for Le Rae Events to help get your wheels turning!
Make a great first impression
Think about what it’s like when you pull up to someone’s home for the first time and you are just ‘wow-ed’! The home is beautiful, the yard is nicely manicured, the door is decorate with a gorgeous wreath, and when you knock the host welcomes you at the door with a big smile and makes you feel at home.
Dreamy, right?! That feeling is exactly what you want to recreate with your website. Your virtual real estate is often the first point of contact potential clients have with your brand and business (and it takes less than one second to make an impression, either good or bad!)
Make sure that your website is nicely designed with a clearly defined brand and easy to navigate and find all important and relevant information. You want to wow potential clients, so think about how best communicate you and what you do. Remember, you’re setting their expectations already!
Respond in a timely manner
One of my biggest pet peeves working in this industry has been how often I’ll have a bride thank me for responding to their inquiry so quickly and learning that they would go days or even weeks without hearing back from others they had contacted.
I just don’t get it - these client inquiries are your bread and butter and what you’re working so hard to get, so why not be intentional about responding in a timely manner?!
A tip that I use is setting up autoresponders for email and phone. I have a standard out of the office email that is sent out anytime someone submits an email inquiry as well as a voicemail recording for when people call. Both messages communicate a warm greeting, my thanks for reaching out, as well as information like my business hours and how quickly they can expect to hear back from me.
Then, I follow it up by making it top priority to respond at my very earliest convenience, usually within less than 24 hours unless it’s a weekend.
Make the first meeting painless
After making initial contact I always make sure to send any relevant information and pricing over to potential clients so that no one’s time is wasted by setting up a first meeting if what I offer isn’t what they’re looking for or they won’t be able to afford my services. Ain’t nobody got time to be sitting down with 40 potential brides a week!
When you do have your first meetings with prospective clients, take care to make it an extra-special, extra-thoughtful experience for them. One of the things I love to do is give them a gift at this first meeting. My mom has run a restaurant all my life, so I learned a lot about client experience from her.
Think if you were comparing two restaurants that had equally amazing food, equal pricing, and were equal distance from home, but one provided complimentary breadsticks and salad before the meal, as opposed to nothing complimentary at the other one? That small gesture right there will hands down seal the decision for you every time.
Finally, instead of having them take time to fill out my client questionnaire right then and there, I choose to send that questionnaire home with them so there’s no pressure. Sometimes couples are pretty nervous when they come in and aren’t in the best place to answer questions to the best of their ability.
So I give them their gift along with the questionnaire and a handwritten, self-addressed and stamped envelope before sending them on their way to answer those questions on their own time when they’re nice and comfortable. At the end of the day, your job is to make everything as easy and painless as possible!
Set the atmosphere
Atmosphere accounts for so much in this industry, so you want to take special care to think of the kind of atmosphere you’re creating for your clients.
If you don’t have a home office to work from and hold meetings in, consider where the best place will be for meeting with clients. For the first 2 years of me working at home I would meet clients at places like Panera or Starbucks, which worked fine but wasn’t great.
While attending a conference I heard some great ideas from women who would meet clients at a local bed and breakfast or a nice hotel lobby. Just that small shift in location and ambience totally changes the feel of the atmosphere and experience you’re creating for your client. PLUS, as an event planner you have the potential opportunity to develop good relationships with area venues by doing this.
If you do have an office, make sure to remember the details! Consider having things like hot coffee or tea, cold water and some freshly baked cookies available. Maybe even some soft, pretty music playing in the background. You have the ability to make your clients feel comfortable and welcomed, so don’t miss any opportunities to wow them!
Make contract signing fun
Signing contracts is not inherently a fun thing. At Le Rae Events we typically have contracts for each portion of the services we’ll be providing, from venue rental, to flowers, to catering and so on. It can get boring and tedious in a hurry!
Instead of signing these contracts in person, I will send them in the mail along with a special new client gift box. This is an awesome way to love on my new clients and get them excited to sign those contracts I’m sending. I also include another self-addressed and stamped return envelope so all they have to do is sign those contracts and pop them in the mail box.
The gift boxes don’t have to be anything super fancy or expensive. I’ll find craft boxes or photo storage boxes on sale at a craft supply store, fill it with crepe paper, and put some fun little on-brand goodies inside, like a pretty notepad and pen, a yummy-smelling candle or a cute little frame.
Remember the details
Continuing to wow your clients all the way through their entire experience with you is what will set you and your business lightyears ahead of the rest. I always love to think of ways I can go above and beyond to bless the socks off my clients.
When I have brides that will be married at my barn, my office gets transformed into the dressing area for the bride and her ladies. I also usually store the flowers in this room, so I keep it nice and cool. My desk becomes the makeup table and I always make sure to display the bride’s bouquet in a pretty container along with a special gift just for her as my way of saying thanks.
Another thing that has become a standard for Le Rae Events is that I make sure the caterers put together a gift basket of food from the wedding to send with the couple when they leave. Oftentimes on the wedding day the bride and groom won’t get around to actually eating much, so this small gesture can make a really huge impact for them.
Lastly, I think it’s really nice to remember your past clients throughout the rest of the year after working together. Sometimes I’ll send birthday cards, Christmas cards and often love to send a gift and card on the couple’s 1-year anniversary.
These are all things that I’ve found to be really impactful in creating an amazing client experience with Le Rae Events. You’ll have to find what works best for you and your clients - but make sure that you make it a priority! If you do, I can guarantee that you’ll create raving fans who will run out singing your praises in the rain - which is great for business!
Do you have any tried and true tips for developing a top-notch client experience? I’d love for you to share them in the comments below!