If we can respond to a customer inquiry before the competition does, we always get the job.
As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewingAllison Welch of As You Wish.
After working as an event planner, executive and personal assistant for over a decade, Allison Farrar Welch created As You Wish in 2010. Based in Denver and serving clients around the United States, As You Wish provides customized personal assistance, concierge and event planning services to clients.
Allison brings a passion for planning and organizing with her signature blend of personalized and seamless service to every client. From high-profile charity fundraisers to casual cocktail gatherings, Allison has planned successful and buzz-worthy events from New York City to Aspen.
Allison earned her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Coastal Carolina University and her certification in Meeting & Event Planning from the University of North Carolina. She is involved with various charities around Denver and enjoys yoga, hiking and spending time with her husband, family & friends.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Yes, thank you for having us! Upon graduating from college, I worked as an administrative assistant for The Staubach Company. Quickly moved up to be their event planner for all the firm’s corporate events nationwide. After seven years of experience as an assistant and event planner, I moved to NYC and worked for famed interior designer, Charlotte Moss. As her personal assistant, I handled her events, philanthropic endeavors, domestic staff, travel itineraries, tour bookings and day-to-day calendar.
That experience brought me to Denver, a market that did not have any companies like As You Wish. I started the company 2010, as a full-service personal assistant, concierge and event planning firm. We handle everything from errands, concierge, organizing, moving management, to corporate and personal events and day of wedding coordination with the utmost professionalism and confidentiality.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
Well, I do not was funny, but … I did lock myself out of client’s home while I was stocking groceries. I had contact them, it was EMBARRASSING!
Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Yes, slooooooow down! Really take time to do the BEST job for the client on concentrate on the task at hand.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
Yes, Beverly Karns!
Can you share a story?
When I had this idea of an “occasional assistant”, Beverly saw my vision and had great ideas on how to market the idea and who to market too. We still collaborate to this day because I value her guidance.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
Yes, our business is based on customer interactions and high-touch service. We have listened to what the client needs and wants are and how they can change per basis. I am very diligent about answering calls and emails within a couple hours. I often get responses from clients and vendors alike that say “Wow, thanks for the prompt response!”. I feel that its shows how much we care about servicing them.
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect?
I think the disconnect is within communication. It is imperative to answer clients in a timely manner, re-iterate a meeting or next step in the project by writing via email so all parties know that expectations are going to be met. We always confirm meetings with clients a day before and same goes for our weddings and events. We also send a clear timeline to the client, venue and vendors a week prior to the event that details timing, Wi-Fi, parking and weather. Even when we bring clients vehicles to get serviced, we make sure we have an appointment made as well as details on timing. These details are vital for a great customer experience.
How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
It is honestly beyond me and huge pet-peeve. Our operations guide highlights to our team the importance of making sure customer service is a priority, no matter what the task!
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer?
Yes, 100%. If we can respond to a customer inquiry before the competition does, we always get the job.
Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
Yes, customer relations with our vendors whether that be a handyman, car detailer, lighting designer, etc. We must communicate with them just as much.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
Yes! A client of ours had to be out of their home within 15 days. Within our relocation services, we swiftly hired movers, handyman, sold items that were not going to be going to their new home, took items to donate, packed them and then unpacked them, down to making the beds and putting flowers in vases. We wanted complete the move within their time constraints and get them settled into their new home, so they could feel content in their new environment.
Did that Wow! experience have any long-term ripple effects?
Can you share the story?
Absolutely, the client then enlisted us to host a fabulous housewarming party and we still handle their domestic vendors and home away care (get mail, water plants, stock groceries) whenever they travel.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
- Pay attention to details. For example, if we are grocery shopping for a family, we have to keep in mind that mom is lactose intolerant and that Timmy is allergic to peanuts when shopping.
- Listen to the clients. For example, we often water plants for clients when they are out of town, listening to the details of how much water per plant is important. It may sound silly, but the client relies on our services for their plants to stay healthy and alive.
- Be intuitive with the clients likes and needs. For example, we shopped for a client’s wife’s birthday. We created a fabulous gift basket with her favorite rosé, a Diptyque candle and orchids. She noticed that we remembered!
- Keep your calendar organized & flexible. For example, our daily calendar changes by the minute with new client requests, vendors running late and emergency tasks. We have to stay flexible and anticipate these items will come up.
- Have thick skin. For example, you have to know that everything won’t always be perfect and if a client is not 100% happy, know how to take their constructive criticism and feedback.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
Yes, we love the little details. Writing a hand-written thank you note after a meeting. Sending a referral gift as a surprise to someone that sends us a client. Gift a bride or new homeowner a fabulous present.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would say something as simple as being kind to one another and extend compliments. As a female business owner, I make a point to complement our vendor partners on their work and even our competition. It’s important to support one another through kindness.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
We would love that! We are on the following platforms:
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us! Thank you!