If you’re running a service based business, how many interactions do you have with each client before you fulfill the service? And then how many are you having after you’ve delivered the service? Each one of these interactions is a touchpoint with your client, and every single one is important as it is an opportunity to build a relationship and solidify trust.
You may have heard that marketing is the process of building relationships and gaining client loyalty. What this means is that marketing is more than just a post on social media attracting someone to your services, but everything else in between that will help you grow your business and client base. Some tend to think about the marketing that is part of establishing the first touchpoint with a client, but not about all that comes after.
Why are we focusing on every single point, and the whole customer journey instead of just getting clients in the door for their appointment? Because one of almost every service-based business’s secret weapon for marketing is their existing client-base. 84% of those surveyed by Nielson responded that referrals are the most trustworthy source of advertising. Referrals and reviews can go so much further than something like a promoted social media post.
What are the different touchpoints in a customer's journey?
Let’s take a look at how a customer’s journey may go, and what touchpoints could be involved that you should be considering in your business and marketing strategy. Not every service based business will be the same, so you may or may not have some of these touch points in your business.
Research: This is the part we usually think about when we think about “marketing”: social media ads, blog posts, search engine optimization, direct mail campaigns, paid click advertising, public relations etc. Potential clients in your target market are out there researching (whether they know it or not) businesses. Maybe in the back of their mind they know they would like to hire a cleaner for their home once a month, and have been keeping an eye on what they see on social media, and when they google “house cleaners near me”. They haven’t made a decision to go through with any particular business yet at this point.
Booking: This is where the potential client turns into a client! They have made the decision to go with your business (yay!) and are booking your services. This could be online, by phone, through social media, or walking-in in person. This all depends on your business model and workflow, and how easy it is to take this step may affect someone’s decision to go through with booking (because sometimes we’re just lazy as consumers!). 🌶Hot tip: This step should be as easy as possible!
Confirmation: This is where you have confirmed their purchase, perhaps with a signed contract if you’re an interior designer, or maybe with a deposit being made if you’re a tattoo artist. You’ve confirmed with them they are in your books, being sure all parties know the correct date and time, project length, and details of the service. 🔥Hot tip: Confirmations can greatly reduce miscommunications, which can result in angry clients. They could have *sworn* you said 1:30 over the phone… a quick follow up email confirming the time is actually 12:30 can save a ton of stress!
Check-in: This process could be very different depending what kind of service you offer. If you’re a mechanic, this could be when your client drops their car off and hands over your keys. They might need to sign something at this step, or make a payment. If you are a fitness studio, maybe they have to sign a waiver and check in with the front counter. 🌶Hot tip: This could be your client’s first interaction with your physical space. Think about what you want their first impression of your business to be!
Appointment: This is the actual rendering of the service. You may or may not be physically interacting with your client during this point. If you’re a hair salon, you are doing your clients hair. If you’re a therapist, you are face-to-face supporting them and working on their problems. 🔥Hot tip: You can add value at this touchpoint too! Maybe have local craft beer on tap at your salon for your clients to sip during their appointment? Maybe you have a super cool space that feels like a jungle where you do your therapy sessions - COOL!
Check-out: As with check-in, this could be very different depending on your service. You may require payment at this time, or maybe they’ve already paid. As a house painter, maybe you just leave and email the invoice later as your client may not be at the site with you! 🌶Hot tip: If you don’t see your client at checkout, consider leaving a thank you behind. Maybe as a house painter, you leave behind a note and flowers as an extra “thank you” for them to find when they come to take a look at the job.
Follow up: Often overlooked, but could really solidify a relationship with a client. How did their appointment go? This could be a great time to request feedback, or just to say “thank you for choosing us”!
Continuing the conversation: Your relationship shouldn’t end there. The strongest relationships will continue, on- and off-line through a variety of channels. They may follow you on social, sign up for your email list, or you now have them in your client management software. If you’re a nail salon, maybe you regularly give tips to keeping your nails healthy between appointments through your email list and social media. Using client management software, you could send out “Happy Birthdays” to your clients, or send them out a card at holidays. 🔥Hot tip: Focus on activities here that you can easily maintain and keep up with. You don’t need to over-do it. Some industry may require more contact than others!
Tips to improving the client's journey
Take a look at all written communication with your clients. Is it in your brand voice? Are the images included (if any) also following your branding guidelines? Stay on brand for every piece of communication! Design matters.
Do you have proper training for all your employees who interact with your clients? All your staff should be trained in how to speak with and manage clients as they are a part of the relationship building.
What does the physical space that clients enter look like? It should feel inviting, and reflect your brand identity. Do you want it to be exciting and energetic? Or cozy and comforting? Are you playing rap music or maybe listening to the local radio station at your reception? A little effort in this area can make a huge impact on how a client perceives the quality of your services.
The Goal: Get those referrals and reviews!
Referrals, which is word-of-mouth between existing clients and their network, are not totally in our control as a business. The best we can do is make sure each client learns how to speak about your business from their interactions with you, so they properly convey that to their friends and family when suggesting your services. Are you great with kids? Is there some special technology that you use? Are you a more affordable option? Make sure at some point in their journey, the client is learning what differentiates your services from the competition.
Be sure that you’re set up properly on Google, Facebook, Yelp - or whatever website is common in your industry - to take in reviews. If clients can’t find you, or it’s difficult to leave a review, they may skip over that. 83% of customers are willing to refer after a positive shopping experience, so make sure you head them in the right direction.
Referrals happen not only on review sites and through day-to-day conversation, but also through social media. Being set up and easy to find on the right social media platforms will help you get those shout outs from delighted clients. Even if the customer’s journey isn’t very “Instagrammable”, there is still a possibility they will make a post about you, so find ways to facilitate that.