We were at a digital agency for a while that seemed to frustrate clients all the time, and when we would list references on our proposals, was always a humbling experience, as the clients, we could list there was diminishing. We could only use those that had a great user experience working with us, and as we continued to over-charge and under-perform, this list got smaller and smaller. The reason for this is not the focus of this blog, so we’ll save you the details.
Knowing what your clients are saying about their experience working with you is not something that should be put off until the end of a project. We need to be doing small “check-ins” all the time, and be creating an ongoing and collaborative dialogue that supports and strengthens the relationship through difficult issues and successes during the entire project. If a client has ever called to see what the status is on a project, we know that the user experience of that client is now one of uncertainty instead of the security that comes with regular updates and consistent communication with clients.
At FuseLab Creative, we are just as guilty of this conundrum discussed above as any other creative agency, but we are realizing our errors more and more, and doing what we can to course correct. Lucky for us, we are fairly small and nimble. FuseLab Creative has worked for large agencies that have tried to make significant structural change in how they do things, and it can be ridiculously painful. One area that we have been focusing on lately is our proposal process; and although we are not finished, we are embarking on a major renovation.
We now focus on highlighting our thinking, illustrating some of our initial thoughts on the project proposed, and going through an internal examination on how we might surprise this potential client with our proposal content. We ask questions like, how can we make their review team stop in their tracks and re-examine what they have just read; and hopefully create a memorable moment with our company and what we have to offer, as opposed to the drab ramblings of the traditional proposal language and format.
This memorable moment or moment of surprise is actually an agency-wide philosophy at FuseLab Creative. Our entire staff is constantly reminded to look for that one thing that is going to truly surprise and delight those we are working with. I was recently listening to my daughter re-tell her experience visiting Disney World. She went there with her school chorus for a weeklong trip where they visit all the different parks and then attend professional singing training at night with professional singers and performers.
Sounds pretty great, right? Yes, it is; but this was not what caught my attention. She mentioned a smart wristband they gave her on the first day of the trip. They call it the “Magic Band.” Once you have paid the fee for a trip like this (Let me tell you, it’s not cheap!), everything you have paid for and have access to is pre-loaded onto this Magic Band. She was able to open her hotel room, access all the pre-park entrances, make use of the pre-loaded fast-passes, receive special offers, and pay for food; all with a wave of her 12-year-old wrist.
It makes me wonder what kind of user experiences we can create for our clients that can deliver something as frictionless and human-centered as the Magic Band? Can we create a lasting relationship through delight and a terrific user experience?
Of course, we can, but we also need to remember that a relationship like those we have with our clients also includes a very important “X” factor, which is the people on your creative team and what they bring to the table.
Everyone has heard the marketing philosophy: “The medium is the message.” Most people think of Steve Jobs and his famous 2010 launch speech for the Ipad, where he stated: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”
So what we have learned from genius-types like Steve? Obviously not enough, because we still get caught up in the promotion of services, skill-sets, and past portfolio samples, and practically ignore that what we should be selling is our team; their personalities, desires, and passions they bring to every project.
This is why we are retooling our proposal process to include more about the actual team we are offering this potential new client. We want them to get to know us beyond our resumes and portfolio samples.
We want them to see our team in a way that allows them to see what working with us over the next year will be like. We don’t ignore the technical requirements, in fact, quite the opposite, but we also want them to get an idea of how we think, and, in particular, how we think about this potential project.
For example, we may describe in detail how we deal with technical bugs during a project, and the passion our technical team has for fixing issues that arise; going even further by describing how we attempt to educate others when we solve a difficult issue by sharing our fix with others in the development space.
The commitment to sharing with others in our space shows our desire to be more than a business community member, we also want to be viewed as a valuable contributor and trusted participant in this community.
At FuseLab Creative, we understand that the ticket to future success lies within the user experience of our past clients, and securing that our clients have a positive user experience with us is a daily goal and one that we are always attempting to improve upon.