A great reputation is built on more than great work. The reputation of your design firm rests on the quality of your work and on the relationships you build with your clients. If the goal of your business is to grow a successful firm that emphasizes design, details and creativity at its heart, then a client-centered approach is a must.
Your clients’ relationships with your team will shape the growth and success of your business. How your clients are treated can both set your business apart from other design firms and help to nurture loyal, long-term customers who are happy to sing your praises to friends and neighbours.
With every new client comes a new set of needs, wants and interests and it’s the role of the interior design team to understand their client’s vision and help bring it to life. To help with these challenges, we’ve put together a list of 6 ways to maintain your client relationships.
1. GET TO KNOW YOUR CLIENTS
Each new client has a vision for the project, shaped by factors outside how a room simply looks. It’s your team’s job to explore these factors by getting to know new clients on a deeper level. Engaging in small talk, to explore a client’s wider vision for their home and lifestyle will help your team unlock these hidden goals. This will help establish your interest in them as a client, help you understand how they work within the team dynamic and deliver exceptional results.
2. SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
Engaging in small talk regularly is important in building your relationship with your clients, however, it’s also important you set healthy boundaries within your designer-client relationship. Boundaries are a necessity in helping all parties understand the role and expectations within the project and how to manage problems if or when they arise. By reiterating expectations for both your team and your clients, when you need to say no, you can do so without jeopardising the relationship. Remember to have proactive conversations while remaining respectful and conscious of personal feelings.
3. USE STRONG COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Project challenges can happen, and when they do it’s important for any interior design professional to focus on clear communication. Strong communication skills help ensure your client is aware of expectations, especially when a clear structure is provided to help ease with lead times, budgets, design meetings and more. By using DesignDocs, you can provide your clients with regular updates relating to their project budget and expected lead times of furnishings and decor.
It’s important that not only are you communicating clearly with your clients, but you are also actively listening to them. The more information you gather from them, the more you’ll understand their vision.
(We love that the DesignDocs software provides design teams with ways of streamlining communication and providing a centralized “hub” for you and your clients.)
4. MAINTAIN ENTHUSIASM THROUGHOUT THE PROJECT
We all know there are many roadblocks to a project finishing at the planned deadline. Whether it is an issue with a supplier, a change in budget or an unexpected repair, there’s a lot to deal with. All this uncertainty can be demotivating for you and your clients. In these situations, positivity is a powerful tool which can help you maintain a client’s confidence during a project. This doesn’t mean that you need to be inauthentic and make light of problems, but it can help you, when problems do occur, to navigate through them so your clients feel confident in your process.
5. ALWAYS ADDRESS PROBLEMS WITH A SOLUTION
As we’ve just covered, problems can often arise during a project. That’s why it’s important to address problems promptly and be sure to provide a solution. Clients want to know the options available to them and how you plan to address the problem and move forward. Being proactive is a great way to promote trust with your client and work towards staying on schedule.
Designdocs software stores all business documents, such as proposals, project reports and orders. Your design team is able to review projects and find solutions when problems arise quickly. The more organized any project can be on the back-end the easier it is to provide your clients with solutions which enhance customer satisfaction. Building and maintaining trust with your client is essential in any project, especially when they are trusting you with a larger budget.
6. GIVE CLIENT APPRECIATION
Once it’s time to review the end product, here's your opportunity to celebrate your client relationship. Handwritten notes, loyalty incentives or a housewarming gift can make any client feel satisfied with their new interior. Taking the time to thank clients can often result in referrals to their friends and family, which is a powerful tool.