August 31, 2022
Your service isn’t a gift. The thing that makes your business stand out isn’t what you provide — it’s how simple you can make things for your clients.
We can create workflows, sign contracts, and put systems in place, but they’re not finite, and if you’re not looking to improve them as your brand evolves, you’re missing out on a really great opportunity to connect with and serve your clients
Today, we’re taking a look at how client experience — your workflows and systems — can impact the outcome of your business and your brand. This is the last part of our Intersection of Design series, where we’re exploring how the different roles of your business interact and how your team can better collaborate so you can make your brand even better than before.
Kate Hutcheson is our last guest, and she’s a project manager and online business manager who is an expert in creating workflows. She also happens to be our online business manager here at the Design Lab!
During our interview, Kate shared what it looks like to have a smooth client experience and how that alone can transform any part of your business — and especially the design process. If you want to make sure you give your clients an amazing experience from top to bottom (including your branding and design), this is a must-watch or read.
Kate Hutcheson is the owner of The Efficient Creative. She’s a process mapper, self-proclaimed systems nerd, and productivity mentor for creative women in online business. She’s someone you call when you need things put into order — things like your business, your to-do lists, your launch plans, and your systems or processes.
Kate is a project manager, and a Certified Dubsado Specialist. With her special skill set, she helps business owners plan more precisely, break down systems to build better ones, and solve complex, multi-faceted problems.
She takes the guesswork out of the process so you can lead your business the way you’ve always wanted to — without all the stress of wondering how it will all get done. Basically, she works behind the scenes so you can keep doing what you love to do.
“I primarily put together systems. I sit down with you and listen to what you offer and look at your workflow with clients. Then, I identify gaps, and we rebuild your workflow to be more efficient and easier for you and the client.
[It’s essentially] how you work with your clients from onboarding through delivery and through offboarding.
We’ll streamline that whole process to make sure that you are communicating with your clients in the best way possible, and make sure that process feels the best to you so that it’s seamless all the way around.
And then beyond that, you can also work with me through my Dubsado Setup Program — a done-for-you Dubsado setup for service-based business — or through Unstuck — my 1:1 coaching program that helps you break through the feelings of frustration and lack of direction with better strategies and systems.“
“I think branding is definitely one of those words that, a few years ago, was just visual. Maybe to some extent the messaging and copy. But when I started working with you, I got a stronger sense of what it is.
And the other day, a client shared the mood board that you made for them. There was this one really high-level concept, and you communicated that so simply. I started thinking about just how much branding really is, and it all needs to be communicated so succinctly that it becomes our values.
You and our audience, the mission, how you work with clients, how you communicate with them — all of that has to get wrapped up in a way that people can understand it.”
“Some things should stay constant no matter what stage your business is in. I think that the client experience should always be focused on communication and clarity, no matter what.
Whether you have a client experience that’s luxurious and maybe includes physical products that people get sent in the mail, or whether you’re still very new and don’t have a budget for something like that, the focus is still on communication and clarity.
You’ve got to give people the information that they need — which is always the foundation. As long as you have that foundation of communication, you have what you need to make a great client experience.
Even for quirky shoestring budgets, I think that there are still fun things that a brand can do to set themselves apart that don’t have to cost a lot of money. I think that’s where a designer can come in and help a business owner come up with creative strategies for things that they can do to set themselves apart.
I mean, you’ve always been really good at sending out little things, like branded tape. I got something once, and then the next time I got it, I knew exactly what it was. I knew immediately that it was from you. And I got so excited. There is really something to it. Tape is the easiest thing that you could possibly do. It lasts you forever and you get one roll. I would never have thought of that. It’s so clever.”
“When I work with a client, they come to me to brain dump. They show me what they do with their clients, what they offer, all their assets, their contracts, and proposals. Everything. ‘Here’s what I do with clients, here’s my offer.’ And ‘Here are all my assets.’
Then, we communicate throughout the whole process to see how we can improve things. I take all of that information, and I go through all of it to assess what’s really clear for the customer, and what isn’t.
You know your process so well, and a client does not. [That’s why it’s super important to be] clear at every checkpoint, at every step, and keep it simple. You don’t want to send them like a wall of text because they’re going to glaze over.
Provide the client with the best experience possible by making it easy for them to get the information they need when they need it. They don’t want to think about it any more than you do. They’ve hired you for a reason.”
“I wish that people didn’t hate meetings. Whether it’s because they’ve been in an environment where maybe they had too many meetings, or the meeting could have been an email. But sometimes it really is the fastest, easiest way to clarify something. So much gets miscommunicated and misunderstood through text.
It doesn’t have to be a Zoom call. Zoom calls are great. I love being eye-to-eye with people when I’m talking to them. But it can even be just a Voxer. Sometimes hearing somebody speak changes everything because inflection is so important.”
“I am not a designer! Once upon a time I thought I could be a designer. And then I started working with designers, and I realized I wasn’t into it as much as I thought I would be.
I work with information. I am very good at organizing information, and that is the extent of it. I look at what designers do, and I think it’s amazing. I’m so glad that there are people to do this because I’m not that person.”
“I don’t often get asked to rework something except when a client wants to rethink how we’re actually working together. From there we redesign from that perspective, but not from a design perspective.
Because I’m not doing front-end design like you are. I’m doing kind of a back-end design — designing the workflow, the flowchart. From there, you know, it flows down, and then it goes into Dubsado. What I’ve started doing is explaining how Dubsado works — what it says versus what it really means and what the clients have to do about it. “
“In a roadmap of the client process. For clients to see a bird’s eye view of where they are and just touch on where they’re going and when it’s happening. It’s important to have a sense of where they are.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated either. It’s such an easy thing to add in that makes a huge impact on how your client interprets how they’re being taken care of and how you’ll support them. It’s like a small thing that really makes a big difference.”
I loved chatting with Kate about the intersection of design and client experience — as well as how branding affects your internal operations. The coolest part about branding, in my opinion, is that it’s a foundational element of your business. It’s not just the visuals; it’s the core values, your brand voice, the way you want people to experience your business. It is all connected.
A big thanks to Kate for sharing how your brand impacts your client experience. If you enjoyed this discussion about client experience with Kate, then you’ll love our other Intersection of Design series interviews with Latasha Doyle, a content and copywriter, and Amber Housley, a marketing expert.
I spoke with both of them about how design and branding are an important part of their work. This whole series has really driven home for me just how much design and branding impact all the parts of your business — and how all the parts of your business influence design.
The key is to create a team or workflows that allow everyone to know the real root of the brand: the who, what, and why. From there, everyone can make truly impactful decisions for the business and the people it serves.