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Customers have a lot of questions to ask before signing up for your services. Those questions are friction. Get their signature faster by answering the questions early and often, greasing the wheels. Start with a smart and simple call to action.

Give clear instructions

Imagine your customer’s at home, looking at their work notes. They just decided to spend money with you and they’re on your website. There should be an easy to spot call to action designed for them.

See how Flywheel positions their sign up button? Even if you don’t do online signups, put your Contact Us navigation item in the upper right. Consider distinguishing it with a border or background color.

On that signup or contact page, quickly show what happens next. When should customers expect follow-up? Will you call or email? Use a short numbered instruction sheet, just 2 or three steps, to make your customer feel comfortable.

Make signing a snap

Let’s assume you’ve pitched and your contact is about to become a customer. How do you communicate your proposal? What does the contract look like and how do customers sign it? Keep removing friction and make viewing and signing the contract simple.

At Roundpeg, we use Tinderbox to create proposals and send contracts customers sign with legally binding electronic signatures. No mail carriers or fax-machines in the middle. Customers can check the proposal and sign without leaving their desk.

There’s a huge market of other apps you can check out that perform a similar function. Tinderbox works for us and our customers. What works for you? Even if you’re not sending contracts all the time, make sure the sign up process includes the following steps:

  • Collect contact information.
  • Agree on terms. That’s all your legal stuff.
  • Send a receipt email to confirm agreement.
  • Communicate the next step and set expectations for follow up in the receipt.

Clear expectations

Pretend you’re the customer and imagine the ideal workflow after signing. Maybe track down a current customer to get a review. Yikes! Whatever they say, I bet speed and time are at the center of their feedback. Everything can always be faster. Improve your speed by outlining each step so you always know what’s coming and what to work toward.

Outlines are good for you and great for customers. They called you because they don’t know what to do. It’s not their vocation or skill set. Assure them with transparent documentation. Reveal your process so no one’s in the dark about what comes next. Keep it simple. Customers don’t need every detail, but you should pick out the milestones. It’s easy to judge progress and easy to set deadlines when the process is written out.

Make sharing simple

Before you get working, talk about options for sharing documents. Email doesn’t cut it for sending images and other large files. Learn how to setup a Dropbox account or sign up for Google Drive to make sharing slick. Or you might offer clients limited access to a folder on your own server.

If you can, talk through multiple sharing options. Ask your client what they use to transfer files in their own business. Find their technology comfort level. You might love the latest tools, but they won’t work if your client finds them confusing. You might even plan for offline sharing. Mailing a CD or dropping off a thumb drive takes longer, but works in the end. Agree on one with the client and use it exclusively to keep things simple.

Talk about what you won’t accept as well. Any file format or document that requires you to reconstruct content into a usable form should be banned. I’ve worked with clients that submitted PDFs of scanned papers as website content. I don’t want to retype that. All writing should be submitted as digitized text. No scans. As a vendor, it’s my prerogative to set that rule. Be clear about your own rules for working.

Clear communication

One more thing: choose one communication channel besides the phone and stick to it. There’s no substitute for the telephone or other conferencing tools. Sometimes you just need to call. But the ease of text-based online communication means you’d be a fool to ignore chat and messaging services.

Email’s a bear sometimes, but it works. Many project management platforms include unified inboxes to collect all project communication, including the client’s. It might take a little work to educate customers on those systems, but I like the idea. Or you might just need a simple text chat system. Whatever works for you, pick one thing. Be ruthless about sticking to this so no messages are lost in a tangle of emails, forums or text messages.

Plan this stuff in advance and tell customers what to expect early in the process to make project startup quick when they’re ready. You’ll look like a professional (because you are) and everyone will appreciate the speed boost.