How to Balance Automation and Personalization in Your Workflows
When it comes to automating your client workflow, one of the most common concerns is that by doing so, you will inevitably lose the personal connection that you have with your clients. When your workflow steps happen in the background, without you manually triggering each one, how can you still provide a personal touch?
Well let me tell you, I’m a BIG fan of automation. Not only does it save time in the day-to-day of running my business, but it also helps me ensure that each and every one of my clients receives the same high level of service, at the right time in the process.
But even I, the self-proclaimed queen of automating #allthethings, holds a few steps near and dear. And it’s by doing this, by holding on to a couple of touch points in my client workflow, that I’m able to offer an experience that is consistent and EASY for me, yet truly tailored to each client I serve.
So what does this look like in practice? Let’s break down a basic workflow…
Start with automation.
When someone reaches out for the first time, they expect you to not only respond, but to respond quickly! Use your client management system to automate an email that’s sent almost immediately after someone submits your website contact form. What you say in this email ultimately depends on your business model.
Since the wedding industry is date-dependent, this email could be as simple as confirming that you received their message, communicating your typical business hours, and assuring them that you’ll get back to them just as soon as you can. You could also include a link to a blog, recent showcase of your work, or your social channels to give them a way to engage with you in the meantime.
If your role in the planning process necessitates a conversation or other form of personal connection prior to booking, the next email could prompt them to schedule a discovery call with you using a tool like Acuity Scheduling (affiliate link). Or, it could send them your pricing or experience guide.
Regardless of the situation, the key is that it’s automated, and it’s happening FAST.
Automate your booking process.
The goal when booking a client is to make the process as EASY as possible for the client. If someone is ready to sign on the dotted line and hand over some $$$, make sure you’re doing everything you can to eliminate friction at this stage of the process.
Send your client to just one spot to choose a package/view your pricing, sign a contract or services agreement, and pay their deposit/invoice. Bundle all of the booking steps into one nice, neat, automated package. My all-time fave tool for booking clients is Dubsado (affiliate link) because their proposal / contract / invoice sequence is not only easy for clients, but it can also be b-e-a-utiful and totally on-brand.
Personally onboard each client.
Depending on your business model, this could vary. But my personal preference and how I onboard each of my clients is to start with a templated onboarding process and customize it for each new client. I have templates I use for my onboarding email, my “getting started” questionnaire, and my onboarding checklist, but I customize them for each client so that they’re super relevant and personal to each client’s unique business situation. Because of these templates, this part of the workflow only takes me a few minutes to complete, but gets the relationship off to a great start from day one.
No matter how you handle this part of the process, be sure you’re communicating expectations clearly up front. In the email templates in my online shop, I include a welcome email that is SUPER effective at onboarding new clients so that everyone is on the same page from day one. Find that here.
Automate regular check-ins.
While you’re busy doing the work, your client may be wondering what’s happening behind the scenes. And depending on the type of business you have, there may be periods of time when your client doesn’t hear from you.
Particularly in the wedding industry, a client may be booking you 6, 12, or more months before their wedding, and naturally, there may be periods of downtime in the planning process. To assure your clients that even in those slower times you’re still thinking of them, schedule an email (or series of emails) to be sent to your client to fill this space. This doesn’t need to be anything elaborate! It could be a simple checkin to see how the planning is going, it could be a quick note to see if the bride has found her dress and share in that excitement with her, or it could be a more intentional email to get them thinking about the next step in the process. But the overall goal is to make them feel at easy, and loved on, throughout the entire process.
Personally offboard each client.
When the working relationship is over, the last memory your client will have of you will be during the offboarding process, so make it count. Start with a standard offboarding checklist (to make sure you’re dotting all your i’s) and a solid email template, but be sure to personalize it so that your client knows how much you’ve valued the relationship. If you plan to keep in touch, mention it! If you’d appreciate a referral or introduction to a business friend who might need your help, ask for it!
This is potentially your last interaction with this client, so take the extra time to make sure it’s personal and indicative of the working relationship you had.
There you have it! Six simple steps that balance automated and personal touches in your client workflow. If you need help mapping out your client workflow - from new inquiry through offboarding - sign up for my free Workflow Mapping Worksheet here.
*this article was originally published on The Rising Tide Society; it has been edited to appear here