By: Doris Hager, Principal of Hager Design International Inc.
Every interior design firm wants to ensure their clients are satisfied with the delivered design. Let’s discuss how a design firm can cultivate a culture of service through communication, setting expectations and creating a client-centric environment. This approach will build loyalty and trust with clients, creating long term success.
A firm that puts the needs of its clients first understands that its clients are the lifeblood of the business and that without them, the business would not exist. This type of firm goes above and beyond to provide outstanding service by having in-person meetings with its clients, answering emails and phone calls within 2 hours, and creating a customer loyalty program.
What is a Culture of Service?
A culture of service is a commitment by an organization to provide outstanding service to its clients, starting with a positive attitude and a genuine desire to help others. This includes setting high standards in your organization, training employees to meet those standards, and holding everyone accountable.
When an organization has a culture of service, its employees are empowered to do whatever it takes to resolve a client issue. They are also encouraged to proactively identify ways to improve the client experience like coming up with new policies or procedures, developing creative solutions to common problems, or simply going above and beyond in their interactions with clients.
A culture of service can have a profound impact on the profitability of a business overall. Satisfied clients are more likely to continue doing business with an organization they feel cares about them plus tell others about their positive experience, attracting new business. And, employees who feel supported and valued are more likely to stay with the organization.
Benefits of Creating a Culture of Service
Creating a culture of service is essential to running a successful business. Four benefits include:
Improved client satisfaction: Providing excellent service boosts client satisfaction and retention rates.
Increased employee engagement: When employees feel valued and appreciated, they’re more likely to be engaged in their work leading to higher productivity and morale.
Enhanced company reputation: A commitment to service can help build your company’s reputation as a trusted partner that puts its clients’ needs first.
Greater competitive advantage: Firms that differentiate themselves with exceptional service will have a leg up on the competition.
Steps to Creating a Culture of Service in an Interior Design Firm
A culture of service is built on the foundation of always putting the client first. Here are a few steps:
Define what excellent customer service looks like for your firm.
Train all employees on how to deliver excellent client service.
Hold employees accountable with performance reviews.
Quick follow-up, weekly check-ins, and provide quality work to clients.
Establishing Clear Expectations for Clients
As an interior design firm, it is important to establish clear expectations for your clients from the outset. Being transparent about the fee structure, what is included and not included, the project timeline, and the communication policy will help avoid any misunderstandings or disappointments. Keep in mind, expectations may need to be adjusted as the project progresses - be flexible and adaptable as required.
Developing Client Relationships
By developing strong client relationships, an interior design firm can create a sense of loyalty and trust that will result in repeat business and referrals.
Important things to keep in mind when developing client relationships:
Communication is key - keep lines of communication open, both with clients and staff.
Respect your clients' time - try not to waste their time with unnecessary meetings or phone calls.
Be responsive to feedback - both positive and negative feedback from your clients should be reviewed when planning future projects. Show that you're willing to listen.
Follow up after each project - even if a project goes smoothly, check in with your client post-completion to make sure they’re satisfied with the final design. This builds trust for future projects.
Providing Exceptional Customer Service
Create a client service plan that outlines the company's commitment to providing excellent client service. The plan should include:
A clear and concise statement of the company's commitment to providing excellent customer service.
A description of what exceptional customer service means to the company.
A detailed explanation of how the company will provide exceptional customer service to its clients.
A list of the specific actions the company will take to ensure that it provides exceptional customer service.
Distribute a copy of the client service plan to all employees and provide one-on-one coaching, recorded webinars, or instructor-led training to ensure staff is fully trained. The company should also create a system for measuring and tracking customer satisfaction levels.
An interior design firm is only as successful as its clients are satisfied. A strong bond with the client can be created by ensuring that each client feels heard, respected, and that their needs are met with excellence leading to long-term success for both parties.
Doris Hager is the founder of Hager Design International Inc., an international interior design firm with hospitality projects throughout North America. Doris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org