Surprise them. People love good surprises, throw in a little something throughout the service to make them smile. Even better, do this at a stressful time. For example, during the tweaking and purchasing stage- in between design concept and install- it can get stressful. The client is not seeing any beautiful designs, the house looks the same, and they are spending a lot of money. To combat this, I like to buy them a gift for their house but unrelated to the project. This shows them that I get them, they can trust me, and it puts a smile on their face. The most recent project I did this at was for a family that loved Ghostbusters. I was designing a few bedrooms and the den, and ghostbusters had nothing to do with the design, but based on the time I spent with them I knew they loved it. I sent her a picture of a little ghostbuster logo sign and said “look what I found, couldn’t resist, I bought it for you, would look so awesome in your hallway” She was blown away.
As part of my series about the five things, a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kayla Goldstein. She is an architectural engineer turned interior designer residing in Pomona, NY. At 26, she runs her own company helping moms set up and design their new homes. In addition, Kayla is a speaker, teaching about design, business, and religion. She also has an online business selling pre-designed rooms with DIY instructions for the budget-conscious. Kayla is a mom of two, an Australian-Israeli-American and loves using her creativity to make homes functional and beautiful for her clients.
Thank you so much for joining us Kayla! 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?
I would have to say that I started way back when I was about 6 years old and I watched my parents renovate a new home they had bought. I decided then that I wanted to be an interior designer and spent the years up to college taking courses and practicing wherever I could. When it came time for a degree I was advised to take architecture as well as design, and I did. But after working in the architecture field for three years, I knew what I wanted to do and opened my own interior design firm.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
This is embarrassing, a few projects in to opening my doors I was renovating a kitchen for a client who had hired me through my contractor. She was insisting on an all white kitchen, and I was trying to convince her that some color, somewhere, might be a good idea (I was worried it was going to look like a hospital!) This literally turned into a spiraling argument over the phone and she ended up firing me.
At the time, it was not funny, but now looking back, I always laugh at myself that I let it get that far over a color choice. The take-away? It is her home and ultimately it is her decision, do not get into a “is too, is not” argument with your client!
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? Can you share a story?
There are a few people who have helped me, but mostly I would have to thank my husband. I did not bring in any money for two years and he fully supported us while I worked on what seemed a crazy dream. Secondly, he is always the business brain behind my work. As a creative and friendly person I tend to get lost in the project and he always keeps me on track financially and with difficult clients. Without him, my business would truly just be a hobby.
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?
When you have a good customer experience through good customer service you are creating a referral source. Not just any referral source but one that will rave about you to anyone who asks or, in my case, even walks into her home. By giving someone a positive, memorable experience you are creating someone who will gush about you to their friends.
In addition, when you have good customer service, your clients are happy- and treat you better. If something goes a little wrong, which happens sometimes, they will be more accepting and okay with it given the past experience. However, if the experience was negative, this can be the straw that breaks them.
Another good benefit is having some numbers to give out when someone is looking into you. I know that when a potential client asks me for some numbers of past clients, I have a whole bunch that I can give her confidently. The ease in which I give them says a lot too.
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? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
It is very hard to create a 100% positive experience. Every human being is different and anticipating the needs of any potential client is difficult. Companies who have not narrowed down to a specific target market will have a hard time pleasing their customers because they are trying to please everyone. Something which we know never works. Focus on pleasing one group of people and you will succeed.
Another disconnect might be the idea of money. I worked with a contractor once who only cared about the money he was getting, and the clients were garbage to him. Because he only focused on the money and not the client he ended up losing me — and all my clients. Even though we are all here to make money we cannot forget that we are dealing with other humans.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
One hundred percent! If you have an option of two stores and you know that one will be nice and one will be stressful you will always choose the nice one. This forces the other store to step it up and improve. Competition is always good in my book — it gives people the option to compare and know exactly what the value of my services are.
Having angry clients can also push a company to improve their service. Even if there was no other competition and they were the only place in town that did what they did, if they always have people yelling at them, life is hard. Improving their service will improve their quality of life.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
I had a client who needed her guest bedroom done in one week. New floor, new furniture. I presented her with a design concept based off a local store, went into the store to order everything, and had it delivered two days later. Meanwhile, I had my contractor lay down new flooring that I bought from a big chain store (lots of stock). By the time she walked in 4 days after hiring me the room looked like a different house. I got the opportunity to watch the stress slide off her face as she realized that with absolutely no running around on her part, her guest room was ready for her mom. She now raves about me to the whole world, hired me to do her whole house, and loves me.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
Of course, first of all it taught me that when my client is less involved they are less stressed. The fact that I was able to do all that for her without having to drag her anywhere or harass her, was a lot of why she was so wowed. So I changed my process, and I do virtually everything for my clients- including kicking them out on install day and giving them an HGTV style reveal at the end! In addition I have received so many clients from that one client. And that is only one story!
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.
- Understand your clients. Know your niche. If you know who you are serving then you know how to serve them. For example, as stated above, I do virtually everything for my client. This means I do not take her to stores with me. Now, for many people this would be a turn off but for my ideal client- a busy mom who is stressed and needs her house to be her haven- this is a God send. And makes her love me.
- Make sure you provide what she needs. Now that you know what your ideal client needs and wants, make sure you are providing it. People often think they have great customer service but when they comb through their process they find a lot of holes. Check what your client needs, check what you do and make sure it matches. And do this twice a year. I used to think that I was providing budget conscious people with budget friendly designs. I found out after one project ghosted me that this was not the case. She had agreed to all the designs because she was afraid to speak up and say she cannot afford me. After this project, I implemented a budget meeting at the beginning of every project and created a budget expectations sheet that I give out to everyone.
- Surprise them. People love good surprises, throw in a little something throughout the service to make them smile. Even better, do this at a stressful time. For example, during the tweaking and purchasing stage- in between design concept and install- it can get stressful. The client is not seeing any beautiful designs, the house looks the same, and they are spending a lot of money. To combat this, I like to buy them a gift for their house but unrelated to the project. This shows them that I get them, they can trust me, and it puts a smile on their face. The most recent project I did this at was for a family that loved Ghostbusters. I was designing a few bedrooms and the den, and ghostbusters had nothing to do with the design, but based on the time I spent with them I knew they loved it. I sent her a picture of a little ghostbuster logo sign and said “look what I found, couldn’t resist, I bought it for you, would look so awesome in your hallway” She was blown away.
- Be organized. Be on top of things. Nothing says “I got this” like you actually having it. All the things mentioned above are frills, but if you don’t have a core good service that calmly provides what your client needs it is not going to be a good experience. You do not want them having to pick up pieces or be confused at all. So clean up shop and get organized and confident. It will do wonders for them, I cannot tell you the amount of times my client has asked for a breakdown of something and were so relieved when it was readily available. They see that they can trust you, and they relax and have a good time.
- Remember that they are human. It sounds basic, but even when they are acting like they are not, remember that they are human. I had a client once who started off amazing and quickly turned into a nightmare. She changed her mind 5 times, scratching everything once it was all purchased, and eventually running into the space while my team was working and yelling at everyone to get the hell out. I remember thinking that she is insane, and not even wanting to get the money she owed me because I was low-key afraid of her. She approached me a few months later saying that she was in an abusive marriage at the time and trying to get out, she was divorced when she reached out and so much happier and calmer, I hugged her and learned a huge lesson. We never know what people are going through, and if we treat them as such they will appreciate it.
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! I always say, as I am leaving after a reveal, “don’t forget to tell your friends!” It is not much but it puts the idea in their head. In addition, I send a questionnaire after every project and ask what they loved, what they didn’t and ask for a review. I then ask them if they would reccomend me to a friend, once again placing the idea in their head. Another great way is sending something on their birthday or on a holiday just to remind them of your existence, or even to email them every once in a while saying something like, “I saw this today and it reminded me of you, how is your living room looking?” It keeps you top of mind.
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 started a movement! It is called Questioning the Answers and it talks about Judaism and religion and asks all the questions we are “not supposed to ask” It has actually taken off quite nicely and even has an Instagram page and a book coming out!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am @kayla_llc on Instagram and
The Designed Collection by Kayla LLC on YouTube
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!