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Client Loyalty – Gone in 60 Seconds

Customers make the world go around, and – as you’ve heard – are always right (sometimes). Clearly, from these two widely used clichés, the customer is the most important part of a business. Studies have shown that it can be six or seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one. The message is plainly clear, you should bend over backwards to keep the customers you have happy.

What is Customer Relations and Why do I Need it?

Even as a business owner, you are still someone’s customer. Studies show people are more likely to remember bad service than they are to remember the outstanding service. A strong commitment to outstanding customer service can lead to new and returning clients as well as positive brand recognition.

Building Client Loyalty Through Responsiveness

Great customer service is the bedrock for building customer loyalty and will come back to haunt you if not taken seriously. One way to build client loyalty is through fast response times. A large percentage of customers would give you their thoughts on a product or service if they believed it would be seriously considered and answered quickly.

Maintaining Customer Relations

The gold standard of an advertising strategy is a word of mouth recommendation. Mainly, because it penetrates the customer’s guard and has a high level of trust built into it since it is generally spread from friend to friend. Word-of-mouth advertising penetrates an existing positive relationship with established trust giving it the highest conversion rate and the highest customer satisfaction.

No one enjoys having their messages ignored, so take the time to respond to every customer to ensure they are aware of the steps you are taking to resolve any issue. Every minute that passes without a response increases the likelihood that they will take their loyalty to your competitor. Effective communication is essential to handling customer feedback and building brand loyalty and trust.

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A Professionally Designed Website is an Investment in Your Brand

The first few seconds a user spends on your website is all the time it takes to form an impression of your business. With only eight seconds to make that first impression, your website must have a clear and consistent message that captures users and converts them into leads. This is where a professional web designer comes into play.

Search Engine Optimization

High visibility is the most important factor of a website, otherwise your website will be rendered useless. A DIY website builder – like WIX – is a one-size-fits-all solution. These options are usually not agile enough to keep up with the changes in search engine optimization (SEO) and ultimately will not lead to the same results as a professionally designed website designed by a professional. Ranking high in search engine results is crucial in attracting new business leads and visitors. A good web designer is able to design the back-end of your website in a way that search engines will better respond, i.e., leading to a higher search rank. This is the most effective way to get your page in front of potential customers and ahead of your competition.

Website Management

If you want your website to be a consistent resource for leads then you should regularly be adding and changing your content. A set-it-and-forget-it site won’t perform well to that objective.  This is where having a good web designer can help design and develop not only your website, but also the process you’ll need to manage to keep the site performing at its best. By investing in a professional, you can better utilize the wealth of other features that are necessary for a competitive site; such as faster navigation and load times; optimized images, content and calls-to-action for better engagement. In addition to these benefits, the biggest advantage to working with a professional is the flexibility to transfer your website from one host to another.  Many cheaper all-in-one solutions require you to pay monthly for an extended term and greatly restrict your ability to switch hosting or incorporate 3rd party solutions without having to start all over again from scratch.

Originality

The price tag of a do-it-yourself platform may seem tempting; however, it’s not a reasonable solution for businesses that are looking to grow and provide a custom brand experience. A website that will be effective at snagging the short attention span of today’s consumer will be unique, eye catching, easy to navigate, load quickly and work nicely with all major web-browsing platforms. A web pro not only has the skills to design for greatest web functionality but also can help guide your brand seamlessly into the minds of your potential clients.

Other than you, your website is the first experience a potential customer has with your company, your brand and your values. Due to the critical importance of your website, it is no place to cut corners to save pennies when the impact it can have on your brand can be measured in magnitudes. Your website is an investment and can gain business that otherwise might be lost.

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Building a Website Budget

Your website is your online storefront, main brand activator and your company’s primary advertising collateral. It’s working hard to secure new customers and reinforce your identity. It has to not only look good but be functional to the standards by your business is built. Although you may want to cut corners, your website is not the place to save money. You should set a budget beforehand to meet your goals and avoid taking unforeseen financial hits. The quality of your website can be the difference between gaining or losing new business.

Common Costs

Current rates for a custom website build can run from $2,000 to $5,000 for a “no-frills” or “brochure-wear” website, while websites with more complex objectives can reach upwards of $50,000 and well beyond. The variance in pricing depends on a multitude of factors; customization, control and security. When working with a professional web designer, you can expect a multitude of disciplines that come together to create a successful development process. Those include, some graphic design skills; front-end development skills; template customization of common content management platforms like WordPress, Drupal, etc; and don’t forget mobile optimization for any and all devices, browsers and their subsequent versions. With all the options that may be included or excluded, the price of building a website varies greatly and it’s always more complicated than you think.

Requirements Brief

It can be difficult for someone who doesn’t regularly work in web design to have a realistic understanding of the scope of a project. Unfortunately, websites are still built like most custom things: by a person who is priced hourly. So it stands to reason the more time a project takes, the more it will cost. To use your web designer’s time as efficiently as possible, think about creating your own requirements brief. This document is usually discussed at the beginning of your engagement with a designer, but to come in ready means you’ll hit the ground running! Here are a few examples of where to start:

  • How will you measure the success of your website?
  • What are your objectives for your new website?
  • What audiences are you targeting?
  • What content are you looking for or already have written?
  • How should you organize the site to deliver on the objectives?
  • What are the functional requirements?
  • What are the technical requirements?
  • What should the design look like?

Brand State

Do you currently have a brand brief or logo and style guide that defines the look and feel of your overall brand experience? Approved images/graphics that match that aesthetic? A defined voice and character of the content and writing style? If so, you are ahead of the curve and can move on to content curation and wireframing. If not, I highly recommend making those decisions beforehand with the help of an experienced branding pro. Once that’s done the next step is content development and curation. With content curation, your job is to provide the designer ALL of the written content BEFORE they begin the design process. Waiting for approved content is a significant contributor of project delays and wasted time and is a major pet peeve of many designers. If you need help crafting and writing content some developers can recommend resources to help. But mark my words, having it ready to go BEFORE you start the wireframing process will save major headaches all around.

Next is the wireframing. Think of this as building the skeleton. The wireframe is a line drawing of the site with sections marked for written and image content, headers, footers, etc. All to help you get a clear idea of the general layout for your approval prior to the design mockups. Once that’s been approved, the designer will put together the design as a photoshop or PSD file. This will show you what the site will look like but without any web-related function. Once that’s approved you’re off to production. At this stage of development, a developer will begin to re-create the mockup in a pre-determined template or custom HTML to match the design. After many hours, it’s ready to be transferred to your web-server and go live.

The human attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish, which means you have very little time to make an impact on visitors and convert them to leads. This makes the quality of your website that much more important and worth the time to plan it out and do it right. By planning a realistic budget you can create more than just an interactive billboard for your business, you can create an outstanding lead generating asset for your organization for years to come.

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The Discovery Process is The Foundation For a Successful Relationship

As most creative pros know, leading the client through the discovery meeting will help understand the full scope of what is needed, while giving the client an understanding of what’s involved to deliver a superior product.

But what you may not realize is the discovery meeting is your opportunity to nail your first impression with the client and set the relationship off on the right foot. Here are a few pointers on how you can use this opportunity to position yourself as a valuable problem-solver by discussing and uncovering any potential problems your client faces.

Prepare

This may be obvious, but it’s so important that it needs to be mentioned. Do some research on who your client is and familiarize yourself with their brand, products and services, competitors and their industry. The goal is to put yourself in the shoes of your client. This research will allow you to uncover potential problems your client might be facing, and it allows you to formulate thought-provoking questions that will help position yourself as a problem-solver. Ask open-ended questions to promote conversation. These conversations will often lead to valuable information while impressing the client.

Listen

Being able to actively listen to the client and responding directly to their needs is what will make you stand out. By understanding what the client is saying, you can also adapt and filter out any of your prepared questions that may no longer be relevant. Hearing the client’s responses can help you design a tailored solution.

Summarize

No matter how fantastic the discovery meeting was, both parties can still walk away a bit confused. That’s why a recap email discussing key events and next steps is essential to wrap up the process. Be sure to talk about what is going to happen next specifically mentioning any deadlines or meetings. A brief and thorough recap will be the finishing touch to a strong first impression.

The discovery process with a new client will set the tone for your professional relationship. The person who asks the most questions is the one in leading the meeting, so come prepared and take charge of the meeting. Present yourself as the solution to their problems and the client will never stop being impressed.