Good Business: How To Create An Exceptional Client Experience Providing exceptional service consistently requires a combination of attention to detail, strong communication skills, and a commitment to exceeding expectations.
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Like me, I am sure you can recall countless experiences dealing with both exceptional and woeful client or customer service. You may even have a business like me as well. On one hand, we have a responsibility to the experience we provide for our customers and clients. On the other, the role is reversed, and we become the client or customer of someone else.
The need to be reflective and mindful of the experience we are offering others is essential. The way people consume our content, or the way they feel after being provided with a service or product, will be telling to the reputation we build, as well as the impact we have on the lives of others.
I can remember an experience I once had with an airline. I was boarding a flight from Sweden back home to the UK. I had just separated from my girlfriend, and I was in no mood to be irritated or even engage in conversation. This is very much unlike me, but on this difficult day, I just wanted to get home. I didn't want company. I wanted to be in my own space.
However, as I took my seat, without being disrespectful, the passenger next to me was a rather large gentleman with noticeably poor hygiene. Within minutes, he was intruding into my personal space. In a poor mood already, I had little patience. I inquired about changing seats to which an attendant said the flight was full. I accepted it then, but I also decided that once the plane took off, I would attempt to speak with the flight manager.
A short while later, I explained the day I'd had to the flight manager. I explained the situation of the gentleman who had sat next to me, and she chose to respond with compassion. Instead of informing me that the flight was full, the flight manager said, "Let me see what I have available." I was relieved to know that she had heard me. She had validated my discomfort, and she was going to at least look for a solution.
After a quick trip to the restroom, I returned, and by then, she had found space for me in first class. She apologized that there wouldn't be any food since the section was pre-booked, but I was unbothered- I was just happy to have some space! Then, 10 minutes later, her colleague came over and said "Sir, we have a spare sausage and mash, would you like it?" I was delighted. Talk about an exceptional client experience.
This is an example of how exceptional experiences often derive from how we've been made to feel. When we have a positive emotional experience, this results in rapport being made, brand loyalty being established, and a sense of trust being formed. This is also where memories are created. We all should strive to provide positive emotional experiences that make others feel seen, heard, and appreciated. This is the essence of what we need in our customer experience, and it's what we need to be achieving as entrepreneurs.
I wanted to speak with event planner, designer, and stylist, Maria Dueñas, about her thoughts on creating exceptional client experiences. With more than a decade of experience in the hospitality, event planning, floral, and candy industries, Maria started Deelish Events in early 2013. She's passionate about planning memorable, sweet, and seamless events, while alleviating client stress to provide them with an unmatched experience.
Event planner, designer, and stylist Maria Dueñas. Source: Maria Dueñas
Here are excerpts from our conversation:
Maria, explain what an "exceptional client experience" means to you.
Exceptional client experience is more than just providing a good service or product. It's about creating a positive and memorable experience that exceeds the client's expectations. It means paying attention to their needs and desires, being responsive and communicative, and going above and beyond to ensure their satisfaction. It's also about being attentive throughout the process, ensuring that every aspect of their experience is personalized and tailored to their preferences. It's all about building a strong and lasting relationship with the client, and making them feel valued and appreciated.
Can you explain your client interaction process? What do you do beforehand to provide the most magical experience for your client?
The client interaction process is crucial in providing a magical experience for the client. Before the event, I make sure to have a clear understanding of the client's vision, needs, and expectations. I am intentional and transparent throughout the process, ensuring that clients are informed and involved at every stage. I listen attentively to their requests and concerns, and provide suggestions and recommendations to ensure that their vision is achievable. I also keep them updated regularly, and provide them with all the necessary information and resources they need to make informed decisions. This includes regular check-ins, updates on progress, and encouraging clients to ask questions or provide feedback to ensure that their vision is being brought to life.
During the intake process before someone hires you, what approaches have you taken to showcase your value for prospective clients?
When interacting with clients during the intake process, I showcase our value by demonstrating our expertise, reliability, and strong work ethic. I provide them with a portfolio of previous events we have done, along with testimonials from previous clients. I also make sure to personalize our approach to fit their specific needs and preferences, showing them that we understand and care about their unique vision. I'll also highlight our commitment to going above and beyond for all of their needs.
Once hired, how do you consistently provide exceptional service throughout?
Providing exceptional service consistently requires a combination of attention to detail, strong communication skills, and a commitment to exceeding expectations. We take ownership of the event, and work tirelessly to ensure that everything runs smoothly. It means being proactive and anticipating clients' needs, providing timely and effective solutions to any issues that arise, and ensuring that every aspect of the event is executed flawlessly. At times, this may require us to provide additional services or upgrades at no extra cost. We communicate clearly and effectively with our vendors and team members to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that all expectations are met.
During and after an event or while rendering services, do you do anything in addition to enhance this experience?
On the day of the event, I'll have our client arrive 30 minutes to an hour before their event. This gives us time to walk their venue, and make sure everything is perfectly displayed. In the event that our client has any last-minute changes, this allows us time to make necessary adjustments before guests start arriving. During the event, my team and I are making sure that all of the client's needs are being met. This helps minimize any room for an unsatisfied customer, giving us the opportunity to fix anything right on the spot. This way, when we follow up after the event, we know exactly what to expect. I'll also send a thank-you note, gift, and/or offer a generous discount to a specific service on their next event. We are always giving back to them one way or another. Most importantly and above all, I always make sure to express our gratitude for their business and to show that we value their relationship.
What do you love most about your work?
What I love most about being an event planner is the opportunity to make a positive impact on our clients' lives, and create unforgettable memories that they will cherish for years to come. We take pride in our ability to turn our clients' visions into reality, and we are passionate about delivering exceptional service that exceeds their expectations. I also love the constant challenge of staying ahead of the curve, exploring new trends and technologies, and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in event planning. Lastly, I love being able to design every little event detail making our events unique, which has allowed us not to repeat any of our designs in the last nine years.