By the Team at Aisle Planner
As a wedding professional, your client experience really starts with your initial consult. Yes, your website, social media presence, and press set the stage, but it’s not until you actually have a signed contract in hand that the real work starts. However, even before the ink dries or the initial deposit has been paid, your new clients are going to expect nothing but the best!
So today, we wanted to share our tips about making a rock star first impression with a clear onboarding process. Designing a thorough onboarding process as a way to kick off your client experience is not only good for your clients, it’s good for your business!
(1) Create an Onboarding System
Just like everything else about your business, you need to have a formal onboarding process for your couples and clients. So, put yourself in the same mindset as you would if you were building out a process to bring on a new employee. Start by documenting things like:
- An internal checklist of the initial items your client’s need to complete once their contract is signed, including filling out a questionnaire, discussing payment due dates, who they need to meet on your team, as well as how to contact them, etc.
- What programs your couples will be using (like Aisle Planner) when working with you
- Instructions on how to access those programs as well as overviews of what they are for
- Dates, milestones or phases to “reach” throughout the process, whether it’s a six month count down, one month countdown, or a “week-of” must-do list.
Once you have everything mapped out, you can create the formal onboarding process as well as the documents you need to support it. Create welcome emails and packets, contact sheets, and the notes and tips they will need to successfully use any systems you will be collaborating on during the planning process.
(2) Communicate Your Planning Process
Even though you and your team may know your planning process like the back of your hands, it is entirely new to your couples. So, whether you explain your overall process over coffee or in an email, take the time to create a high-level overview of what they can expect to work on with you and when, including specific dates and timeframes. Doing so will not only reduce client anxiety, overwhelm or overload, it will help keep you and your team on track each month, since you have proactively laid things out with an action-based to do list.
(3) Set Boundaries and Expectations
The most effective way to ensure you stay on track throughout the entire planning process is to simply set boundaries and manage client expectations from the get-go. So, before kicking off the planning process, each of your couples should clearly know:
- What your working hours are (be very specific about your day/s off and your request not to be contacted on that day or days)
- How they can contact you (what channels you do and don’t respond to)
- When they can contact you (while still letting them know they can always reach out in an emergency)
- What defines an emergency (as planners, we’ve all had that one client who thinks a bounced invitation or second-thoughts on color choice is an emergency)
- What your services include (and, just as important, what they don’t)
- Who needs to be working on what! Clearly define what you and your team will handle, and what you need delegated to the bride, groom, and bridal party
(4) Start with a WOW!
Send a “congrats on your engagement!” card, treat them to lunch, surprise your bride with a subscription to Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, invest in big gift, like a Mrs. Box, to start your client’s experience with you and your brand with a WOW. These items may take a bit out of your bottom line, but the impression left on your clients is priceless. Remember, when things get stressful or overwhelming throughout the planning process, there is nothing quite like the trust factor, that you have your client’s backs, to help talk them down out of panic mode. The fastest way to build this trust from the start is to show you CARE, more than anyone else, about making their big day the best it can be. Treat them like they are your only client, and they will be forever grateful.
“The client experience as a whole looks however you decide, but it’s essentially a reflection of how you treat others and ultimately how you want others to perceive you. It’s how you talk to your clients, how you respond to their needs, and how you explain things that aren’t so obvious to your client but very obvious to you.” – Rhiannon Bosse
Looking for more tips? We find using a project management system, like Aisle Planner, to be the best way to establish a workflow and keep each of your client’s events organized, on track and on budget. Download our “Tips for Onboarding Your Clients to Aisle Planner” to find out more!