Hello everyone, welcome to the Balanced Business Leaders Podcast hosted by yours truly, Claire Jones, owner of Liminal Clarity. We are a business development agency that helps small business leaders scale and grow without burning out.
This is the next podcast in a series where we will be discussing the various trials and tribulations that lead me to creating my Three Pillars of Business Success, a framework that represents the foundational systems that contribute to sustainable business growth.
If you’re interested in learning more, please join us in our free Balanced Business Leaders Facebook Group at facebook.com/groups/balancedbusinessleaders.
Ready? Alright, let’s dive in.
So I started this podcast as a way to tell my story, particularly when it comes to the many, many different lessons that I have learned over the years when it comes to founding, developing, running, and growing small businesses.
This particular episode is about the third step to creating effective Processes & Systems for your business – the client journey. This is important because you need to set external expectations so that your customers are clear about how you will work with them.
Taking care of your clients is the best form of marketing. It’s much cheaper to keep a client than to go find a new one.
Plus, satisfied customers are also the most highly trusted marketing source for other consumers. Word of mouth, referrals, and social proof are considered king in the marketing world.
This is true for both service-based and product-based businesses. Like I’ve said before – no matter what your business does, your primary business aim should be creating happy, satisfied customers.
So how can you set up the systems and structures that support an enjoyable client experience for them?
The preliminary step to all of this, which we won’t be going over today, is the marketing and sales process. These kinds of structures are covered by my second pillar, Marketing Strategies, which we covered in previous podcasts.
If you missed them, all you need to know is that the marketing and sales process invites the customer to develop that know, like, and trust factor with you and your company. There are clearly defined steps that they can take as they follow the path to engaging with your products and services. It’s not really a sales funnel at the end of the day, it’s a trust funnel.
There should always be some type of discovery process involved, in which you get to know your potential customers. You need to have a clear understanding of what your services and products look like from their point of view – how do your offerings fit into their lives? How does your service or product directly address the problem, issue, challenge, opportunity, or pain point that they are facing? What exactly will entice them to engage with your company?
This discovery process will directly lead into the sale, because they will be much more likely to buy if they feel like your service or product addresses their particular wants and needs. Understanding their wants and needs up front will greatly increase the chance of a sale.
But, what happens after they say, “Yes, I want to buy it”?
That’s where the Client Journey comes into play, and we always kick it off with some onboarding..
Before we begin, let’s first talk about the importance of clear, straightforward communication. This is something that needs to be prioritized throughout the Client Journey because you need to provide the customer with a sense of clarity and certainty every step of the way. Don’t make them guess.
During the onboarding process, this usually looks like some sort of welcome email that outlines everything they should expect as they purchase, receive, and use your product or service.
In this welcome email, there should be:
- A contract or purchase agreement
- An invoice or payment process
- The delivery details
- An outline of next steps
Number one, a contract or purchase agreement can come in a variety of forms. If you’re a service-based business, it’s most likely going to be a full-form contract with legal liabilities, deliverables, project scopes, pricing, responsibilities, etc. detailed for them to sign off on.
If you’re a product-based business, this is probably going to be a sentence or two – maybe a paragraph – on their receipt that explains your sale conditions. Are returns available? Do you have a warranty agreement? Stuff like that.
Number two, the invoice or payment process is basically the means through which they give you their money. If you’re a service-based business, this is typically an invoice that is generated through your accounting software, customer relationship manager software, ecommerce store, or payment processor.
If you’re a product-based business, this is probably going to be a transaction generated by your ecommerce store or point of sale system. It’s just a confirmation that money will be or has been exchanged.
Number three, the delivery details are going to be directly related to whatever they are buying from you. If you’re a service-based business, they need to know how you are going to deliver the service. Is it going to be in multiple sessions or appointments? Is it long term? Short term? What benchmarks, milestones, or outcomes can they expect to see? Really spell it out for them so that they know what to expect.
If you’re a product-based business, this is most likely going to be the shipping information. Is it being shipped by USPS? FedEx? Is there a tracking number? Are there delivery charges involved? When should the customer expect to receive it? If the product is very large, like a couch, are there going to be delivery people who help bring it indoors?
Number four, always make sure to outline the next steps for them so that, again, they know what to expect. If you’re a service-based business, do they need to prepare anything before your services commence? Do they need to do anything after they receive your services? Do they need to show up at a certain place at a certain time? Do they need to wear specific clothing or bring specific supplies with them?
If you’re a product-based business, do they need installation directions? Do they need instructions on how to use the product? Do you need to notify them of any warnings or best practices?
Basically, what do they need to know in order to use your product or service?
Next comes project management:
If you’re a service-based business, you’re going to have a much more in-depth process for this (especially if multiple people are involved with providing the services).
You need to have some way to track the progress of your service fulfillment process. If it’s just you, it could be a simple list of steps that you need to complete in order to provide the service. But if you have a team, then you’re probably going to need a project management software to track each person’s individual contributions to the service provided.
If you’re a product-based business, this is going to include the process by which you fulfill the order. How is it going to be packaged? Who is responsible for getting it shipped or delivered in a timely manner? How are you going to track and update your inventory levels?
What is the specific sequence of actions that need to be taken once you receive an order?
Again, this can be easily automated. If you have a solid point of sale or ecommerce software, it will usually handle all of the shipping and inventory tracking for you. Or, you can even consider drop shipping services – where you undertake a contract with a warehouse somewhere that will hold, process, and ship all of your inventory for you.
Finally comes the offboarding process. This typically includes surveys, reviews, and/or some type of follow up communication.
Surveys can be super helpful when it comes to quality assurance and tracking your customers’ satisfaction levels with your product or service. They can also be used for product or service testing, research and development, or customer relationship management.
Plus, Surveys and Reviews can sometimes be the same thing. If customers are providing you with positive feedback in response to the survey questions, you may want to include a disclosure statement or question notifying them that their comments may be publicly posted on your website, social media feeds, or elsewhere (if that’s allowed within your industry).
Reviews are also typically sent via email and can include long-form comment fields or links to online review platforms like Amazon reviews, Google reviews, Facebook reviews, and/or Yelp reviews.
Again, both surveys and reviews can be easily automated through your email campaign manager, customer relationship manager, point of sale system, ecommerce store, and/or third party softwares. If you need help deciding which programs to use, hit me up.
And, finally, you need to set up some type of process for customer follow up. The surveys and reviews can certainly be a part of the follow up process, but I really want you to implement follow up strategies long term so that you can continue to build relationships with your customers and hopefully turn them into long term, recurring sales.
Re-engaging inactive customers and clients, like I’ve said before, is the cheapest and easiest way to make sales. Typically, if they’ve been a customer in the past, you already have their information. You have their phone number, their email, their address – so it’s really easy to create long term touch points with inactive customers.
Maybe they bought from you three months ago, maybe they bought from you five years ago, it only takes 1 to 3 touchpoints (on average) in order to re-engage them.
So what do these touchpoints look like? It can look like email campaigns, newsletters, phone calls – maybe you want to call them and check in on how they’re doing. Maybe you want to send them a follow up email to find out how they’re liking the product that they bought from you – maybe find out if they want more.
What we’re talking about here with client processes is really about developing that customer relationship beyond the sale. If we treat our customers like sales transactions, they’re going to feel devalued. They’re going to feel like they’re just a number in the system.
But if you take the time to develop relationships with them, develop clear communication, clear expectations, and value their opinions, then they’re going to feel heard, they’re going to feel seen, they’re going to feel cared for because they have a sense of certainty, clarity, and value as they work with you.
They’re going to become loyal fans, and loyal fans beget more loyal fans. It’s a great snowball effect. They’re going to sing your praises to everyone they know, because people will go to extraordinary lengths to support the people that they know, like, and trust. It’s how our brains work.
It’s also going to make your life easier. It’s going to save you time, money, and energy if you set up replicable systems that consistently provide quality results. Just rinse and repeat.
That’s why developing a clear Client Journey is one of the key aspects to long term, sustainable business success.
So next time, we’ll be going more in depth into the fourth step of Processes & Systems, Company Structures & Workflows. I hope to interweave my personal experiences with the business lessons I learned along the way so that I can paint a full picture for you guys.
And please let me know what you think! I am always open to feedback and love connecting with my audiences.
If you want to learn more, I personally invite you to join us in the Balanced Business Leaders VIP Group Program. In as little as one hour per week, you will walk away with a clear action plan to grow and scale your business sustainably.
Please visit linktr.ee/liminalclarity for more information.
You can find the episode outline, video recording, transcript downloads, related links, etc. below.
And, until next time, love you all, take care, and I hope you have a good day wherever you are.