ESIF2012: Creating Your Signature Experience

Event Solutions Idea Factory was a great trip!  I was able to attend some really great sessions that included one called “Creating Your Signature Experience That Increases Client Satisfaction and Referrals” led by Wendy Dahl, Chief Inspiration Officer of Chic Productions (don’t you just love her title?). 

I love the idea of creating a signature experience because every company is different and has a different personality and the experience that you lead your customer through must be a true reflection of your company and effectively address your customers needs.    As a side note, customer experience is dear to my heart.  My favorite corporate job before starting in the floral industry was in the web experience biz – my title was “Experience Process Consultant” – and so I have a great appreciate for this subject.  Here are some points to consider when planning your company’s “signature experience”. 

What can you do to give your clients the ultimate client experience?  If you are involved with events then you need to show her that events is what you do!  Wendy recommends that your office should be an ongoing event:

  • Welcome her to the party
  • Give her a swag bag
  • Give her a sample of the festivities
  • Leave her wanting more

wedding swag bag[Photo Credit: Jeff LaPlante Photography]

According to Ms. Dahl, 90 percent of business is based on trust.  To make your clients feel at ease and gain their trust, you need to create routines and systems reflecting your culture. Inspire the experience of every touch point from “hello” to “I do” and beyond.  When first meeting with a new client end the conversation with with ” so how are you feeling about our conversation” which is much better then saying “check or credit”.  Asking about feelings builds trust because it shows that you care about what they think and not just about getting their money. 

Wendy Dahl, talked to the importance of thinking through every touch point that you have with your clients, so that you can have an organized experience planned and scripted – be sure you think about what your tangibles will be (what the client will go home with), initial conversations, office visits, site visits, timing, and scripts for post wedding.  How will you ask for referrals?  Should you say “keep me in mind if you have any friends planning a event” or something different?  Now you may think it is silly to script out all your conversations, but I don’t think Wendy means for you to sound like a robot and read from a script.  She means to think through scenarios, cases, and personas so that you are prepared and polished.  This will make you look incredibly professional, keep you efficient, and help land your clients.

The next subject Wendy discussed during her session was “anticipatory services”.  Defining anticipatory services will create a situation in which you appear to be consistently over delivering, which means your clients feel they have received a high value for the money that they spent on your services.  Start by brainstorming your clients needs and then create tip sheets,  welcome kits for each level, weekly kits, monthly kits, etc. to send out.  While planning your signature experience, it is important to keep your branding consistent by using your brand’s logo, colors, and fonts throughout the materials that your clients will receive.

“Giving clients information freely” is a belief of Wendy’s, but she warns to not give away freely during the sales meeting.  Only do so once they have signed your contract and they have officially hired you. 

To maximize profitability from each of your clients, think of add-on services.  For instance, brainstorm ideas of what your client will need closer to the wedding day, what do they need after the wedding, what can you do for them?

Communication is key for your experience and having a planned out strategy in place will save you time and energy:

  • Decide the best method of communication for you and your clients.
  • Frequency – how often should you communicate.
  • Messaging – what should you communicate.
  • Respond timely – be sure to respond in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Manage expectations – you should say that you’ll respond within so many business days. Do not say within 24 hours, because if it is over the weekend, you may not be able to but your client will expect it.
  • Consistency – be consistent in your communications.
  • Time and automate as much as possible.

Another facet in creating your signature experience is to define your company’s distinctive value:

  • Pricing and presentations
  • What are your signature services, processes, and products?
  • Bonuses – tip sheets, how to’s, additional resources
  • Gifting – birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
  • Clubs – brides club, grooms club, exclusive offers
  • Client open house events

Once you have created your signature experience be sure to leverage your program. Getting the most from your program could mean: 

  • Referrals are king and keep your program alive
  • Turn you tip sheets into a DIY product that could be sold online or create a book, sent to bloggers or magazines
  • Create new products that can be sold over again
  • Partner with other wedding professionals to enhance each others signature experience programs
  • Add on new products/service for before/after the wedding

Ok, so we covered the key points of creating your signature experience, but Wendy covered one more key item in which I believe really propels successful companies into the future, being innovative!

Being innovative is what makes you different from your competition.  It is important to continuously make incremental improvements in your customer experience program.  The innovation cycle looks a bit like the graph below in which you start with an idea, then evaluate by asking questions, implement your idea to see how it works, and then look at ways to improve the original idea.

innovation cycle

You might be asking, well how should I start to be innovative?  Here are a few steps to get you started:

  • Brainstorming or mind mapping
  • Research other industries and adapt to the wedding/event industry.
  • Ask your previous clients for feedback by using surveys.  Survey Monkey is free tool.
  • Change the game – If you don’t like how your biz is going then change it .

Brainstorming Cheat Sheet

[Image Credit: Lucy Spence]

Here is a list of other innovation resources – sites and books:

So now you have Wendy Dahl’s words of wisdom on creating your unique signature experience to take your wedding or event business to the next level – what are you waiting for?   Get out there, and innovate!

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