Customer Service for Interior Design Business
After all the riff-raffing, you have finally landed a client, and it seems like a match made in interior designing heaven. But how do you convince your client this relationship should last for ages and ages? That’s where customer service for interior design businesses comes into the picture.
Customer service is the support you give your client from the moment you land them to even after they have used your service. While you might think customer service is all about replying to emails and texts on time, this isn’t the 20th century. That is one-half of the story.
Customer service begins when a prospective client reaches out to you, looking for a solution. They might not be your client yet, but if you choose to help nonetheless, you are servicing them. They could be your future customer; you wouldn’t want to ruin your prospects by not treating them right, would you?
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You must exceed your customers’ expectations; stay with them from when they contact you until after the payment is made. If they reach out to you after that, help them. Going the extra mile will help you build deeper connections and give you a loyal customer for life.
Importance of customer service for interior designers
Excellent customer service means your clients will talk about you. They may mention you on social media, give you a 5-star review, and tell their friends and relatives about ‘that super-amazing interior designer.’
Your empathy, politeness, and willingness to help at all times will set you apart from your competitors. It can help your customers remember you for years and stay loyal to you.
We recommend doing these three things to be a better interior designer:
- be empathetic,
- show them they matter,
- listen and solve their issues quickly.
If you wonder how you can improve customer service being an interior design business, stay with us till the end.
Image credits: certainly.ai
How to convince your client you are the right pick?
1. Prove you are reliable:
Just telling them you are reliable doesn’t count. Your actions have to prove you can be relied on. How do you do that? Build a website. And not just any website, but a site with a collection of your best work. Work that can stand out, complemented with appealing elements like a video introduction.
On the website, describe your working process. Plug in a messenger icon at the bottom-right of the screen so that they can reach out to you. Also, add your social media channels there. And keep your social media updated with your latest designs, not pets.
2. Display testimonials:
Whether jingle bells go all the way or not is debatable, but testimonials do. The best way to gain their trust is to show them what other people say about you and your work. Your website and social media channels should clearly state who said what about your work. They play a big part in reassuring your client. So, reach out to your old and current clients, and ask them for an honest review.
Yes, listen. Listen to what your clients are saying, what their demands are. If needed, reach out again and confirm. It is better than giving them something they didn’t ask for. Listening is an underrated skill but can take you places. Show them you understand their needs and reassure them you can get the work done. Better yet, create a mood board on Pinterest and show it to them so you both are on the same page.
4. Create a unique design:
Your clients have come to you for something they couldn’t think of themselves – creative and out-of-the-box ideas. Put your design experience into action and give it to them. Your out-of-the-box ideas, creativity, and skills will be the key to winning their approval. Consider drawing a 2D and 3D floor plan, so it’s easier for them to imagine what they will be getting.
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5. Always have a Plan B:
If your clients don’t like what you have proposed, have a plan B in your arsenal. Show them you are serious about the project by being proactive about something else when one thing doesn’t work out. You should be easily able to suggest different wall colors and furniture materials if required. You can also send them the top 3 ideas you have.
Let the designer shine through: Your clients will always have ideas too, so let them shine. Take inputs from them and incorporate them into your designs. This will help them feel included. You should also be able to customize your design in real-time so you can make your clients happy. So, keep your laptop handy at all times when meeting with them.
15 ways interior design businesses can improve customer service
1. Research and understand needs
The first step of customer service for interior design businesses is knowing what your client wants. When you sign the interior design contract, conduct research about their needs. Understand what they are looking for, and most importantly, not looking for.
This will help you plan the project better. Conduct as many meetings as you want, but remove all ambiguities to make the delivery smooth. Also, catch yourself before delivering what you think they want. Sometimes, we end up confusing the two.
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2. What is your design style?
This question can creep into the initial conversations. And it must be answered intelligently – in such a way that you don’t undersell yourself and simultaneously give the best customer service for an interior design business.
The right way to answer it is by showing them your portfolio. Draw up a mood board that can highlight the unique aspects of your designs. Don’t forget to show them how your designs will feel in their spaces. But be yourself, whatever you do.
Read also – How To Find Your Personal Interior Design Style?
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3. Understand their lifestyle
An important way to understand your client and give them good customer service is to step in their shoes. Profile your customer’s lifestyle, understand where they are now and where they want to go. Tweak your entire client strategy accordingly.
If you know your client’s daughter plays table tennis, you can add mini table tennis in her room. This element of surprise will build stronger relationships, and they will know they can trust to meet their needs.
Read also – Interior Design Client Questionnaire
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4. Right expectations
Set clear expectations at the beginning of the project about basic things like where they can reach, how they can reach, your work timings, what channel of communication you prefer. Suppose there is a change in any basic details that can impact your work, inform your clients right away. However, be kind and diplomatic about it.
You might have heard communication is the key to all successful relationships? Well, this is true for client-customer relationships too. Yes, in interior design space too. Give your clients space to express themselves freely however they are comfortable. Be clear about the budget, the size of the house, and the kind of structure they are looking for.
When you start designing, make your clients a part of your process. Keep them updated about the direction your design is heading in. Send them rough, preliminary sketches about how you envision the ideas. In fact, make a shared folder and keep it updated with the timeline of the projects and the latest renderings.
Read also – 15 Problems Most Interior Design Business Faces
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6. Honest & Trust
Show your clients you care about them and their time. Build an element of trust with them by being honest and transparent. But at the same time, show them they can lean on you. If you are upfront about any delays or damages, your relationship will tell them they can trust you to make things right.
It is an important element of customer service for interior design businesses due to the sheer complexity, time, and human efforts that go into it. Plus, since interior design projects tend to be long-term projects, a trustworthy relationship will make that process a breeze.
Regardless of whether you are a freelance interior designer or you own an interior design business, being customer-friendly is important. If you have a relationship manager at your firm, they should be adequately trained to handle clients, contractors, and delivery partners.
Image Credits: theyellowspot.com
8. Be accommodative
Humans are dynamic creatures, and their ideas change with time. But an interior designer with good customer service skills will ensure whatever new changes their clients come up with are accommodated in the design pronto.
9. Avoid delays
If you have taken up multiple projects simultaneously, it might get difficult to keep up with all projects. So, when you take multiple projects, plan accordingly so you can submit them on time. Sometimes some issues can crop up that might delay the submission, so have a contingency plan ready.
10. Focus on delivery
Instead of saying yes to everything, focus on what you can deliver to your clients. And deliver accordingly. Do not over-promise and under-sell. Rather, do the opposite; it is an important element of customer service for interior design businesses. Do not think twice about giving your client the best, even if it means outsourcing some skills and tasks.
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11. You can upsell... sometimes
You are the professional; you know better than your clients. When you think you can suggest something better than what the client has asked for, suggest it. When you are presenting a plan they asked for, keep 2-3 options handy just so you can show them how to improve it. You have nothing to lose whether or not they choose it.
12. Be soft but straight
This tip is for when you are deciding the pricing. More often than not, this penny-pinching attitude creeps up in conversations. This can make or break the customer service for an interior design business.
In this case, be soft, but keep your point across clearly. Tell your clients how much money is going in which process. Tell them the price of the type of accessories and fabrics they are looking for. Show them the quality of your work and materials is worth the price.
13. Stay clear-headed during crises
Small or big, crises can arise at any point. And being a professional, you have to be prepared to deal with dealing with them. Stay clear-headed and solve the problem from straight to end. Regardless of who created the problem—you, the client, or the delivery man—the onus falls on you to solve them. And you must do so intelligently.
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14. Avoid blunders
Your job doesn’t end at making indoor spaces beautiful; make sure they are safe too. Select pieces of furniture that are kid- and environment-friendly. Your decorative objects should be chosen with care. Sometimes, designers make obvious blunders by following clients’ orders step-by-step, avoiding such cases too.
Like we said earlier, you can upsell. Run a sharp eye when the project is over to detect problems that can be a cause of concern. If you cannot fix an issue, tell your client to get experts.
15. Foyr Community
Foyr has a great community of interior designers – from experts to freelancers to freshers. You can leverage this community if you are looking for freelancers, contractors, or suppliers. You can also post jobs in this community and hire full-time, part-time, or freelance designers for your business.
Also, if you are a freelance interior designer, just starting out, you can learn here as well. Foyr’s community is a one-stop solution for all your interior designer-related issues. So, sign up right away and make your customer service journey, among other things, easier.
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Interior designing should be a fun and collaborative experience. And collaboration comes from both sides – with your team of engineers, designers, electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters, contractors, and with your client.
A successful customer servicing strategy pulls your clients into the projects. It makes them feel the final result is what they wanted, even if you have added your touches to it. If your client has that sense of ownership and a shine of pride in their space after you are through it, know that you have done your job well.
For more such tips, hop on to our blog. You can also join the Foyr Community to be a part of a space where like-minded people grow and have fun together. Find new clients, partners, and inspiration today; just click here and sign up today.