Providing a great customer experience is something many small business owners struggle with. Small businesses typically have limited resources (including staff) and are often stretched thin just to keep their businesses afloat. As a result, customer experience matters are often put on the backburner due to more pressing demands.
But what if providing a great customer experience didn’t have to take any more of your staff’s valuable time or additional funds? What if it was just a part of your business’s day-to-day activities? Or what if you could charge a premium for your services due to the type of experience you provide your customers?
Long Beach architect Mark Grisafe has built his business, Grisafe Architecture, around providing an amazing client experience. Yes, his firm is made up of talented individuals who design beautiful residential and commercial spaces for their clients, but they are also known for the experience they provide during the process. Here are four things Mark Grisafe does to give his clients a great experience with his Long Beach architecture firm:
During his years in business, Grisafe has put together a solid network of professionals—people who specialize in things like industrial design, landscape architecture, engineering, and general contracting. They are all smart, skilled, and ethical professionals who do what they say and treat people the same way his own architecture firm treats people. By compiling this team of experts, Grisafe is able to offer his customers a complete solution for their project, much like a larger architecture firm can, but with a more personalized experience.
I never want to have to tell a client, ‘OK, my part of the job is done. Now go out and find a landscape architect or a general contractor to finish it.’ I have a list of vetted professionals who can provide my clients with whatever they need to get their project to the finish line. People really appreciate the full level of service we provide.”
Providing solutions isn’t just limited to Grisafe’s existing clients. He will often offer advice to people who aren’t even paying him. He explains, “Sometimes I get a call from a potential client whose project is not a great fit for our firm. When this happens, I do my best to provide the person with a recommendation to someone else who may be able to help them. I have found that people are very appreciative of this. On more than one occasion, they have come back to our firm at a later time for help on a project that is more in line with my firm’s area of expertise.”
In other words, provide potential customers with a great experience, even if you suspect they won’t turn into a customer immediately. People tend to remember when they are treated well.
Be an Advocate
Whenever you’re in an unfamiliar situation, it’s helpful to have an advocate. Some of Grisafe Architecture’s clients have never undertaken a major remodeling project or a new building project before—and even if they have, every project is very different. Grisafe offers himself and his staff as advocates on behalf of his clients, not just designers. When it’s time to get architectural drawings approved by the city planning committee, Grisafe takes care of it. If the general contractor on the project comes across an issue, Grisafe is happy to go to the building site and help work out a solution on behalf of his client.
Grisafe Architecture’s special expertise in areas like spatial planning, code compliance, and interior design make the firm a great choice for just about anyone looking for a true partner to help them turn their vision into reality. Having an expert on your side who is also a partner is something many customers are looking for when they work with a small business.
Communication is an area in which small businesses can really shine over their larger counterparts when it comes to customer experience. In many instances, the small business owner has direct interaction with many, or even all, of their clients. This is the case with Grisafe Architecture. Every client works directly with Grisafe. He knows them by name and gets to know them personally in order to design a space that will suit their unique needs. He asks lots of questions at the beginning of a project about how the space will be used, what kind of feelings they want to have in the space, and what the main goals are for the project. He encourages their questions, ideas, and feedback.
Grisafe Architecture’s excellent communication extends to their architectural drawings as well. They provide their clients with extremely thorough and detailed plans. When they are submitted to the city for approval, their plans typically only require minor changes or corrections (if they require any at all). This helps keep the project on schedule and on budget. Thorough plans also help the project’s general contractor by spelling out exactly what the client wants. Plans that are not thoroughly fleshed out leave things open to interpretation by the general contractor, which may or may not go well for the client.
Grisafe and his team stay in communication with their clients throughout the entire process. They are easy to get ahold of and answer any questions or concerns promptly. Clients never have to wonder where their projects stand or whether things are moving forward.
You don’t have to be the owner of an architecture firm to take away some valuable insight into customer experience. These principles can apply to pretty much any small business—especially those in service industries.
Provide solutions, be an advocate, and communicate well with your customers, and watch how it changes the experience they have with your small business.