Increasing Interior Decorating Jobs
The interior decorating industry has new competition popping up every day. With increasing business and players, it’s important that you distinguish yourself from others. You’ll need to find something that sets yourself apart from the crowd.
You could look at offering different design services beyond interior decorating. You could also create a ‘value added’ offering, such as hints and tips for solving common home design dilemmas. Another option is to be slightly more competitive in your pricing when compared to other interior decorating services in your area – without undercutting them, of course.
However, I’m a firm believer that the easiest way to set yourself apart from others and bring in new interior decorating jobs is through providing excellent customer service. I have had the opportunity to discuss this on stage at IDS Canada, as well as various other business events.
Today, I’ll share my thoughts on customer service. Particularly, I’ll reveal how you can use it to increase your clients’ satisfaction, book more interior decorating jobs, and improve your bottom line.
Your Interior Decorating Jobs: The Importance of Customer Service
I love our clients in this industry! Over the course of my career, I have had the pleasure of working with amazing, laid-back clients. I’ve also had extremely challenging and opinionated clients – and every type of client in-between. Through these experiences, I’ve learned that the first step to delivering excellence in customer service is being honest with yourself.
Discover the areas where you excel with your clients. At the same time, you’ll need to be able to self-reflect and recognize where you have room to improve, too. Think back to your most positive customer service experience. What made it so successful? Now think back to your most negative customer service experience. What made it such a nightmare?
One way to do this is to ask for your clients’ feedback at the end of a project. A great option is to send them a survey. From this survey, you can then create a list of challenges you’re currently facing. In this survey, try to also ask discovery questions about what your clients want.
Think about what you – as a customer – typically want out of a service. This will help you get started. In my experience, I’ve found that most clients want to be:
- Communicated with
This discovery process will help you move onto the next important step in delivering excellence in customer service.
The ‘How’ and ‘When’ of it All
In your interior decorating jobs, there’s no ‘bad time’ to deliver an excellent customer experience. You can set the stage and go above and beyond for your client:
- During inquiries;
- At the time of ordering or payment;
- When you’re delivering a consultation, product, or other service;
- When you handle a client’s complaint or problem;
- As you work with clients on repairs/maintenance;
- During your after sales follow-up.
- At the end of your transaction or project
So, how can you deliver high-quality customer service for ANY type of client?
7 Things to Remember in Your Interior Decorating Jobs
Set your ego aside. Allow your clients to approach you with their questions, as this will help to ease their stress levels.
This is imperative! But that doesn’t mean you need to be available to them 24/7. I have office hours for communicating and holding client meetings. The only time I’m accessible after my available hours is for emergencies. I communicate this openly with clients during the consultations, so there is an understanding at the onset of us working together.
I’m a very outgoing person. I have a potty mouth and like to have personal connections with my clients. But understanding my clients and their personalities is important.
I’ve had clients that open up minimally. They’ve hired me to do a job and don’t care about connecting. On the other hand, I have also had other clients with whom I’ve developed deeper connections. I still share recipes with many of them to this day, and pop in for a cup of tea if I’m in the area.
To illustrate how different your customers can be, I also have clients who drop more f-bombs than I do, and would rather that I show up in jeans than in business attire. My point is: understanding your clients’ preferences and personalities can play a HUGE role in the success of a project and your interior decorating jobs as a whole.
Your expertise is a major reason you get hired for your interior decorating jobs. So, be confident in the knowledge you’ve gained through your QC Design School Interior Decorating Course!
Part of being knowledgeable is also being open to your clients ideas – good or bad. Sincerely consider their wishes. If need be, gently educate them as to why something may or may not work. Remember that at the end of the day, it’s their home.
When approached with a client’s concern or complaint, take the time to understand where they’re coming from. Value what it is they’re telling you. Appreciate the concern, and actively listen. Use phases like, “I appreciate…” and “I understand…”
In your own words, clarify what it is your client has told you, and express why you get where they’re coming from. Above all else, make sure they understand that you’re there to help them, and that – as much as possible – you will always try to do what you can to bring their vision to life in a way that makes them happy.
In a perfect world, every single client you work with would be 100% happy with your services. But reality can sometimes prove different. How you choose to approach your interior decorating jobs (and clients) will make all the difference between a satisfied customer and a disappointed one.
With all of these things in mind, it’s also important to point out that excellent customer service ultimately boils down to you actually delivering on what you promise your clients. As the saying goes, “Don’t let your mouth write a check that you can’t cash.”
If you’re open with your clients about what you can and can’t deliver, there will always be realistic expectations that you can successfully meet. If you over-promise and fail to deliver, you’re telling clients that they can’t trust your word. This can heavily word-of-mouth recommendations, as well as your ability to book interior decorating jobs in the future.
When it Comes to Your Interior Decorating Jobs, Always Remember…
Allow yourself to be human. We are not perfect creatures. For many of us, design and decorating is very personal. We “birth” designs and concepts, but we can’t take criticism personally.
We also need to realize that because we’re human, we make mistakes. This is okay! How we recover from those mistakes can be the difference between a client telling others about you in a positive or negative way.
Here are the 4 Key R’s to Recovery to remember:
- Recognize when there’s a problem. Example: “Susie, I’m sorry to hear this happened. I’m going to fix this.”
- Respond immediately. Example: “Susie, again, I’m sorry this happened. Here’s what I’m doing to fix this…”
- Repair the problem. Whatever you need to do to fix the issue, do it!
- Recover wonderfully.
These steps will help you recover from an issue.
Finally, know that when our clients win, they’ll often continue to stay as our clients in the future. This reduces churn and client acquisition costs for your business. But more importantly, you can increase your interior decorating jobs in the future.
Happy clients will seek opportunities to work with you again. They’ll be eager to spread the word about your business and become your cheerleaders – so that others can come to you for your services, too!