How To Wow Event Planning Clients with Customer Service: Part Two!
One of my favorite sales tips is to always end all conversations or emails with a question and a commitment. For example “I would like to follow up with you next Tuesday, does that work for you?” Closing the conversation like this puts you in a position to follow up without looking desperate and gives the clients some boundaries to work within. Knowing what to expect from each other is one of the most challenging elements of good customer service. The more information you can share with your clients (and vendors) the better. It puts everyone at ease and gives you, as the planner, a solid plan of attack.
But don’t overdo it…
Someone once told me “needy is creepy.” Don’t over do it! There is nothing attractive about a planner that is desperate to get a response or feedback from a potential client. While you may think it is good customer service to follow up every day until you have a yes or no, it is not. It puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the clients who are trying to do their due diligence in researching and hiring the right planner for them. Set clear boundaries, as mentioned above
So now you have booked the client. Congratulations!! The next step, and this is an important one, is sending them a welcome letter or packet. This document should include your office hours, best ways to reach you, who to contact in your absence and what the next steps will be. This is a great opportunity to set some solid boundaries with clients. You are not at their beck and call and they need to know that. There should be no expectation that you will return calls or emails after hours or on weekends. Make that clear. Most clients are perfectly fine with this information as long as it is properly communicated to them upfront.
Implement a call schedule
I strongly suggest you set up a permanent call schedule with your clients. The biggest concern, for most clients, is that they do not know what is coming next or what they should be thinking about and working on. Depending on how far out I am booked, I typically start off scheduling monthly status calls. As we get closer, typically 3-4 months out, the calls are bi-weekly and the last month we set time aside each week.
Having calm clients that know you have things under control is priceless. Taking this extra step makes them feel cared for and ensures them that everything is going to be perfect. The rewards for this are great and completely worth setting the time aside. These calls can range from short and sweet to lengthy and meaty – but you’ll have a sense for how long each will last based on where you are in the planning process.
Create a timeline
Within the first week of signing a new client I always produce a detailed planning timeline. This document breaks out every tiny detail that needs to take place in order for the clients wedding to go off without a hitch. I share this document with my clients and we work off of it on the calls mentioned above. I also take it a step further and enter all of the dates and deadlines from the planning timeline onto my work calendar. This ensures I don’t let anything slip.
Really what it all boils down to is managing client expectations. The more information you can give them, the better. Remember, they are coming to you as the expert. It is your responsibility to keep them informed, updated and aware of everything that is happening. Even if the update is “I do not have anything for you yet, but I expect to have it by the end of the week” it will do the trick.
Do not work under the assumption that your clients know what is going on. That is your responsibility and only yours. Do everything in your power to be pro-active (and not reactive!) and you will have a wonderful relationship with your clients. They will adore you and refer you to their loved ones. These are the steps to how you build a strong wedding planning business.