How to increase your CLV by elevating your client experience.
If you’ve known me for long you know that I’ve made websites for over 20 years. I made my first site when I was 13, and I transitioned that hobby into a career that allows me to do what I love: help people with websites.
But that’s not the whole story…
When I was 19, I became a single parent. I put my pride and my budding but unreliable business on hold (RIP Neon Lights Studios) and I went to work at McDonalds.
The neon lights from the arches were not what I meant, but whatever.
I made the best out of a crummy situation and worked hard to become a shift manager, (while picking up the odd graphic design side job whenever I could, I just didn’t have time for website projects at that point).
The difference between a smooth experience and one you have to fix later
It felt like it at the time, but it wasn’t a total waste of time. I learned valuable lessons about what it means to make things right the first time, rather than having to fix something later.
McDonalds has customer service down to a science. Everything in those buildings is designed to get you fresh food fast.
Whether that actually happens depends on a lot of things, but it’s absolutely in their best interest to shave off every second possible from when you pull up to the speaker to the moment you pull off with a bag full of carbs.
So they’ve spent years perfecting their processes to make them as efficient as possible.
They post visual guides to all of those processes where those processes are performed.
Then more happy customers can make their way through, grab food they don’t need to complain about, leave and repeat.
Which makes for a pretty nice revenue stream.
But mistakes happen, even when the machine is well-oiled and running smoothly. And suddenly you’ve got a complaint to handle, and hopefully you’re not currently performing a critical task to keep that machine moving.
Now it’s time to make a magic moment.
Anything from quickly replacing a mistake with their order to finding a specific toy their kiddo wanted.
Two universal truths –
- It takes longer to fix a mistake than to just do the job right the first time.
- Happy people are easier to work with.
The processes that you establish for your projects are the steps you take your own customers through from the moment they make the decision to book your services to finishing their project up with a bow and even checking in later.
When you define the process behind your services be sure to keep an eye out for opportunities to make these magic moments that can define their experience working with you.
Magic moments in the making
The most important way to make a magic moment is to right a wrong.
- “I’m sorry” goes a long way but only if you mean it.
If you’re tempted to say “I’m sorry… but…” and then blame them for a mistake instead of owning it, or pointing out whose “fault it really is”, close the message and walk away until you can frame your thoughts graciously like a pro.
- A client has a question but they are slightly out of their support period.
People hate missing out, especially when they just barely missed out on something. Taking a few minutes to answer a question without thinking about compensation is a great way to build trust with your client which is what keeps them coming back (and referring people to you)!
- A client asks for a minor task that falls out of scope.
Determine if the time (ideally less than an hour) it will take you to do it is worth it to give your client the warm fuzzies instead of feeling nickel and dimed. This assumes that you’re charging what a website is worth to your client so you don’t run the risk of resenting your client. If it’s way out of scope (more than an hour or so) you should probably bill for it or offer to swap out something in scope for the new task.
- A client is upset something didn’t go as planned.
Do what you can to get things on track even if it’s not directly your fault (e.g. a platform you recommended goes down and they lose money). Keep them as informed as possible, and let them know something is going on as soon as possible, even if it’s just a quick “I’m aware of the issue and working on a fix”.
- A client is upset because you made a mistake.
Make it right, and don’t charge for the time to fix your mistake. Consider this the cost of doing business with heart.
- A client is upset because they made a mistake (and they may or may not admit it).
This is the trickiest one to handle. Be as kind as possible, and try to find some common ground to work from.
Magic moments don’t (and shouldn’t always) have to be a reaction to something bad. Surprising your client with something extra is a great way to make a magic moment. Here’s a few easy ways to go the extra mile for your clients.
- Offer a bonus pack for booking with you
Do you have worksheets, books, calculators, or other tools that can help your clients? Share them.
- Instead of a holiday card, send a new year card
The holidays are supposed to be a personal time, but the new year is when people tend to make high level plans for their business so it’s a better fit for your business relationships.
- Throw in an extra deliverable
Did you have an idea for a post, or graphic, or something you wanted to try that isn’t covered by scope? Whip it up anyway and send it over as a surprise (just don’t make anything live without permission)!
- Help spread the word
If you see someone asking for that particular something your client provides, tag them in the post or offer to connect them privately.
Systems are a great way to help magic moments happen
Start thinking about how you can encourage magic moments in your own business, and then try to automate those triggers as much as possible so you can give every client a premium experience.
If you need help scaling your business with systems, sign up for my email list and get my free guide to scaling your 1:1 or DFY business without sacrificing your time through a step-by-step strategy that will help you define and align the heart of your business with the systems that power it so you have a valuable business system that you can refine into an elevated, premium client experience.
I’ve been designing for brands and websites for over 20 years, and I have so many old designs (many that would never see the light of day if created today), and I wanted to share my evolution as a designer.
Check out some of the work I did before I learned the ins and outs of brand and web design, as well as business. You can’t be an effective brand designer without having a keen understanding of what makes a business work.
So take this work with a grain of salt, this is before I knew better. 😅
I was (am) a bit of a fangirl in the early aughts. So naturally, I also designed a TON of fan sites. And I did this under a silly name that no one could pronounce. (It was pronounced Design Rocker).
This was my baby business, the one that got me started. I was still in high school when I started selling websites.
At some point, I decided to rebrand. (As you’ll see, rebranding is the story of my life).
I named my new biz Neon Lights Studios because I wanted to put my client’s “name in lights”.
It was a dark mode style website way before dark mode was a thing (we’re talking 2002, baby). I used a tiny block font for everything, and the turquoise on black color scheme was most definitely… jarring.
Let’s be thankful these designs are languishing on a hard drive, and I can’t be bothered to find the 20 year cords to hook it up.
But, I had no idea how to run a business, and so I went to work at McDonald’s and used my free time to devour everything I could find about designing effective brands and systems.
In 2006, I caught a break and got a job with a local agency. Unheard of in my small town. But they were a toxic startup, and anyway I am not made to sit in someone else’s office.
So I quit and went back to McDonald’s.
And I paid about the same for a better working environment, too.
It wasn’t until I dipped my toes a few years later that I began creating real brand identities in addition to designing and building websites with WordPress.
For the first iteration of this website, I created design assets like illustrations and tools for other designers. Some of that stuff even lives on Creative Market!
Later I released WordPress-related products and training, and now it lives on as a quirky gift shop.