As a wedding planner, you are probably a people-pleaser. It’s in our nature to want to serve! But does your client experience reflect this? Your client experience goes way beyond just the planning process. It is a complete reflection of the experience from the discovery phase, to problem-solving, to the post-wedding experience. And it’s not just about building relationships with our clients, but about creating a rave-worthy process that they will share with everyone they know.
What is a client experience?
First, let’s start with the fundamentals of a client experience and what it is. A client experience is your client’s perception of their experience with your business or brand. It’s not just how you make booked clients feel, but also potential clients in the search phase. Your client experience results from every interaction a client has with your business – from the first impression to the booking process to the post-wedding wrap-up!
The client experience should be:
Personalized: You want your clients to feel like everything is just for them (even if they all book the same package!)
Timely: As a wedding planner and coordinator, you want to always respond in a timely manner. Our decisions reflect a whole team of vendors, so if your client waits forever for a response, it could mean you become the bottleneck in the planning process.
Effortless + Seamless: Our clients are overwhelmed. So it’s up to us to make this a seamless and effortless experience. From automated systems to checklists to questionnaires, our job is to make the process less stressful! Which is another reason why I love Honeybook so much. It allows me to create systems, workflows, questionnaires, and more, all in one system!
Memorable: This is one of the biggest memories our couples will have. They will look back at their wedding for the rest of their lives! So it is up to us to create a memorable client experience that keeps them referring us to their friends again and again.
Consistent: Consistency is key to being a wedding planner or coordinator! As your business grows, so should the consistency with every event.
Timeline of the Client Experience:
As you plan out your client experience, think about how you want your ideal clients to feel throughout the planning process. Use this timeline and overview when setting the tone of your messaging across your brand – from your website, to social media, to emails. Map out the client touchpoint in your workflows, and fill in any gaps you see.
Initial touchpoints: The first touchpoint is an introduction to your client experience. This starts with your website and social media channels.
Inquiry phase: Your ideal client has resonated with your website and wants to get in touch. This is where your pre-booking workflow comes in place! Make sure this is a seamless experience, from the pre-complimentary consultation to the post-consultation.
Booking process: You’ve impressed at the inquiry stage, and your client would like to book your services! This is another place where client experience comes in. Is it easy to pay and sign the invoice and contract?
After they’ve booked (but before the contract terms begin): This is officially the first stage of working with you and needs to stand out. You can easily automate your welcome email and guide using your CRM system (like Honeybook). I also suggest getting the scheduled check-ins on the calendar now, before they get too busy with planning!
Planning Process (once the contract terms begin): Make the planning process as easy and enjoyable for the couple as possible. This is where most of your client experience comes in, and we will be discussing this in much more detail later in this post!
Pre-Wedding: Creating timelines is one of the biggest parts of the pre-wedding process! Make sure you have both condensed vendors’ timelines and a full one for you. You also need to be armed with your Game Day Playbook! This is essentially the big timeline, with all the nitty-gritty details noted for you and your team. Get my FREE Game Day Playbook to create your own!
Post Wedding: The client experience continues well beyond the wedding day! I like to send a gift to my clients a few weeks after their wedding, to celebrate their incredible day. Box Fox is my favorite, and you can even get $10 off your first order, here! And don’t forget to send a post-wedding testimonial and a feedback questionnaire. Knowing their thoughts about their big day and their overall experience with your team can be so helpful when prepping blog posts and submissions or tweaking business practices.
What makes up a great client experience?
Now that we know what a great client experience is, let’s take a look into the details that make a great client experience!
Anticipating their needs and answering questions before they’re even asked. Our job is to always be at least one step ahead of the client, ready with everything they need before they ever ask.
Tools + Resources: You should have a library filled with tools and resources ready to go for your clients. If you are a full service planner, this could include vendor recommendations, timeline outlines, and design resources. If you are a day of or month of coordinator, this can also include checklists and spreadsheets that your clients can use as they plan.
Wedding Guide: I suggest having a wedding guide ready for each client as soon as they book. This can be a PDF that outlines the complete process, from beginning to end, month by month. This way your clients can see a big-picture view of the process.
Planning Checklists: Checklists are an easy solution for anticipating your clients’ needs. Everyone loves to check things off a list, including our clients!
Blog Posts: Your blog should be a resource library, filled with not just inspiration, but education! Create blog posts around FAQ’s that you get often. This way, when a client (or prospective client!) has a question, you have a blog post you can send to answer it for them in depth. Looking for inspiration? Snag 72 Blog Post Ideas for free!
Canned Responses For FAQ’s: As a planner, we get asked a lot of the same questions again, and again (and again!). Having email templates and canned responses for FAQ’s will not just save you time, but get answers to your clients quickly.
One of the most significant parts of being a wedding planner or coordinator is having empathy. This is an incredibly stressful time for our clients! You need to be empathizing with where they’re at throughout every stage of the planning process. Make sure you are respectful throughout the process, even if you think their freak out is over something silly. To them, it is very important! So make sure to listen carefully and allow them to get it all out. And don’t interrupt – it makes them feel like you do not hear their needs. Often, our clients just simply want someone to listen to their needs and feel understood.
If there is a larger issue or a conflict, avoid assumptions. We can get used to coming up with the problem, assuming that it is similar to a previous client’s issue. But, every client is different. Every family situation is different. So don’t assume that your client’s issue is the same as every other client. As you listen, respond with positive statements to take control of the situation. If a client has problems with a vendor, acknowledge the issue, explain the solution, and end on a positive note.
For example: The client is having an issue with the venue. “I understand that this is a frustrating situation with the venue. There are a lot of responses that you are waiting for, and I know that it is holding up some decisions that need to be made. I will reach out to the venue, and get these answers for you, so we can move onto the next step. I know that the venue you chose is amazing and is going to look beautiful on the day of!”
As your client goes through the process, always recognize their emotions and see it through their eyes. Maybe you went through a similar issue when you or your friend got married. Take the time to really show that you care.
This is also an opportunity to show your client that you are an expert and solve their problems! Understand their priorities, and use your expertise to not just solve the problem but to make them feel at ease.
Educating your clients is not just something you do in the early stages! You need to continue to serve and educate them throughout the entire planning process. Help clients better understand their options by educating them on each choice, and why they fit into the final puzzle on their wedding day.
For example: Couples might not see the need for transportation for guests. But, it could be a venue that benefits greatly from transportation since there is limited parking. Give them examples of how providing transportation is worth the cost and makes the guest experience better.
Make sure to offer solutions and suggestions when appropriate.
For example: First look vs. no first look. There might be a dozen reasons why you feel they should do a first look, but you need to educate them on why! Maybe their wedding is in the winter, and they want to do portraits with daylight. If the sun sets at 4:30PM, explain to your client the logistics of why they need to do a first look to ensure portraits happen before sunset.
Don’t forget to educate them on the process of working with you! Outline your communication preferences and office hours in a welcome PDF, and add it to your email signature so they don’t forget.
Clients rely on us for the knowledge and expertise that we bring to the table, giving them peace of mind. Your clients rely on you to be professional and have everything in order.
Have systems and workflows in place: The best way to uplevel your client experience is to be organized. So having systems and workflows in place, you are creating a streamlined process that keeps you (and your clients!) organized. Honeybook is my CRM of choice since you can automate so many parts of the planning process. I can easily set up automatic emails, invoices, and questionnaires and organize vendors.
Clarify who is doing what: This is especially important for day of or month of coordinators who are not planning from the very beginning. Make sure it is extremely clear who is in charge of what in the planning process and at what point you and your team step in. Is the client in charge of payments, timelines, or contracts? Who gathers the final contact information for each vendor? Let the couple know when they can expect to hear more details from you and/or what you may need from them and when.
This is also important in your own business. If you have multiple planners or an assistant team, make sure the communication is clear who handles which details for each couple. It can be confusing for a client to hear from multiple people on the team – so make it clear who is working on their wedding.
Schedule regular check-ins: Don’t assume your clients will come with questions throughout the planning process! Regular check-ins don’t just keep the planning process on time but let you answer questions they may not have asked via email.
Clients count on us to deliver what we promise. Part of your client experience should be to exceed expectations. Always under promise and over-deliver! This is key for every aspect of the planning process, from start to finish. As it gets closer to a wedding, sometimes planners can over-promise things for the day of. We start to lower our boundaries and agree to do something outside the original scope. However, what happens when you overcommit and can’t do it? It can lead to a poor client experience and wedding day – and a bad experience on the wedding day due to overcommitments is the last thing you want.
Another key part of accountability is to communicate efficiently. Make sure you are in constant communication, whether through a quick check-in email or pre-set calls. If a client starts to feel like you forgot about them, it can lead to a poor client experience.
And finally, own up to mistakes and apologize when necessary. Mistakes happen. Weddings are a stressful event to plan. Part of being accountable as a planner is to own up to mistakes when they happen and move forward.
Mapping Out Your Client Experience
As you start to map out your client experience, remember that done is better than perfect. Many people fixate on needing their workflows to be completely perfect before they start using them. But like anything new, things will need to be tweaked and adjusted as you go. You may realize you forgot an important step, or maybe you no longer do something for a client or want to do something new. Your client experience is an ever-evolving process!
And don’t worry if you are not a huge tech person. While a CRM like Honeybook can make this easy to set up, it’s also okay to start with just a pen and paper. Create a bulleted list you can print for each client folder and adjust as you go along. Done is better than perfect. Start somewhere and adjust as you go, learn and grow!