Be selective about your clients. Not everyone who’s interested in working with you is going to be the right fit. It’s important that clients align with your values so be clear about the people you want to work with. Your messaging should make your target audience feel like you’re speaking directly to them. Everything you do should convey that you understand and care about them. You will also always do your best work when you’re doing it for people you truly care about.
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 Kristin Moses, founder and creative director of DesignGood, a high-vibe branding firm in Austin, Texas. A 20-year veteran of the design and branding industry, Kristin has been an entrepreneur for 15 years, having founded three successful companies including DesignGood. Passionate about helping entrepreneurs build the businesses and lives of their dreams, she has helped hundreds of business owners build brands that align with their purpose and fulfill niches in the marketplace.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us about your backstory and how you got started?
I have always had a love for design and creativity, and I started my career as a graphic designer at a boutique design firm after graduating from college. As much as I had a passion for the design and advertising world, I had an equally intense love for business. Very quickly I discovered that my true passion was in helping people start businesses and providing them with the tools they needed to succeed. I realized very quickly the power of good branding — it married my love for design, processes, and business — and I was hooked.
After working for several design studios, this realization led me to start my own design agency in Houston, Texas, with a business partner who was also my best friend. We were extremely successful and well known for our creative work but over the course of those nine years, I became miserable. I didn’t feel connected to the work or even the city I lived in. How could this be? I was making good money, people knew me and we had a slick office downtown. I should have felt like I had everything I wanted, right?
After many sleepless nights and painful conversations with my business partner, I did the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We shut down the agency and divided our assets and clients. Ultimately, it ended our friendship.
I knew that the next business I started had to be centered around my own values and passions. That’s what makes a business sustainable — it has to be authentic to who you really are. So I moved to Austin, Texas, a city I do feel inspired by, and relaunched my business. DesignGood — a brand design agency centered around my unique approach to working with clients and creating brands — was born. Our focus was now on creating meaningful brands for passionate entrepreneurs, and it felt good.
In this second iteration of my business, I also made sure to choose team members who cared about the same things I did, which meant creating beautiful designs and helping other businesses succeed. But for me, it also meant incorporating an element of spirituality into our work and choosing to see the good in the world and in people.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or takeaways you learned from that?
This is more of an ongoing mistake and one that’s taken me a long time to learn: I always advise our clients to focus on the work they do best. This means not trying to do it all yourself and outsourcing everything except what only you can do. That’s how you really add value to your business. It also means working only with clients you can do your best work for — the ones who enable you to serve your higher purpose — and turning down prospects that you know deep down really are not a fit for you.
Ironically, I still have to remind myself of this valuable lesson. For the longest time and up until recently, I still tried to do it all. Even though I have a highly capable and talented team, I am used to doing everything myself, which is a surefire way to burn yourself out.
So recently I made a list of all the tasks that bring me joy as well as the tasks that suck the joy out of my day and deplete my energy. I took a hard look at this list and asked myself who on my team I could give each task to if I spent just a little more time training them.
The result? My team was beyond thrilled and appreciated the new sense of responsibility and ownership. It showed that I trusted and believed in them, which also boosted company morale. And the best part is now I can focus on the things that only I can do and the tasks I’m best at instead of diluting my efforts and spreading myself too thin.
Sometimes I still have to step back and ask myself, “Am I spending enough time on the important stuff? What can I get off my plate and give to someone else who can do it faster and better?” As entrepreneurs, as we grow and evolve, we should always be asking ourselves these questions to ensure our business is growing and evolving too.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person whom you are grateful toward who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My dear friend Joshua Smith is a phenomenal professional development coach and celebrated interior designer. He also happens to be my coach and a DesignGood branding client. We commit to talking every Monday morning before our work week begins to sort through any blocks that might be holding us back and brainstorming how we can incorporate more of the work we are passionate about into our week. Just the simple act of acknowledging where you might be feeling stuck is so key to moving past it.
Also key is having a coach, colleague or friend who can relate to your entrepreneurial journey, make you feel supported, challenge you and inspire growth. I am a huge advocate for hiring a good coach! They can help clarify your vision and keep you moving toward those big-picture goals.
Looking back, I can also be just as grateful for the people who showed me how I don’t want to run a business. I’m very process- and system-focused which came from years of working at design agencies with no process and no method. Our processes and systems are a critical reason clients want to work with us. Well, that and our beautiful design work!
Creating thoughtful processes saves you time in the long run. It creates better results for clients and it keeps your team from burning out. Plus, having a proven method separates you from the others in your space; it’s why clients will seek you out.
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 are essential for success in business?
People want to do work with people they feel connected to. They also want to feel heard and seen. Your clients and customers will trust your guidance and expertise only when they feel like you truly understand them. They want to feel a genuine human connection to the businesses they work with. This is why a big part of our branding process is learning about our clients’ customers and helping them speak directly to them and their needs. Customers care deeply about how you make them feel. Emotions are a powerful thing.
We’ve found that customer experience is what people really talk about when asked about business. Results are important, of course, but how did you deliver those results? Happy customers who talk to other potential customers drive referrals and sales. DesignGood’s business is 90 percent word of mouth. Past clients refer us based on the quality of our work, naturally, but also for the quality of our customer experience, and the interactions with myself and my team.
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?
This happens when a business loses touch with the needs and wants of the people they’re serving. They get so focused on sales, they forget that the surest way to earn sales is to invest time in building human connections.
You have to remember that your customer experience is created through every single touch point that someone has with your business. If they love working with you but have very different interactions with your team members, there’s a problem with your customer experience. If your team members are helpful, but your brand or website is communicating something totally different — or not much at all — there’s a problem with your customer experience.
On the other hand, you can invest in creating an incredible brand but if customers’ actual experiences with you aren’t in line with that brand, it doesn’t really mean much. When it comes to your brand, everything has to be in alignment.
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?
There are always going to be other businesses offering the same thing your business offers. Thanks to the internet, your prospective customer has more choices than ever. But what can often differentiate you is how you deliver your service or product.
So how do you stand out from the crowd? Customer experience — which starts with a distinctive brand that truly connects to your audience — is one of the most effective ways. Think about how often your customers’ first interaction with your business is with your website or social media feed. Based on what they see online, they are deciding if you are credible, competent and worth connecting with further.
Going back to the idea that people really want that sense of connection, authenticity, and humanity in the companies they do business with: If you can create that wherever your customer encounters you first, you are going to be ahead of others in your space who haven’t taken the time or care to truly know themselves and their audience.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was wowed by the experience you provided?
The common theme we hear from clients is that we take the time to get to know them deeply and understand what’s important to them and to their business. We know how to listen and we can provide the big-picture perspective when they’re lost in the weeds. Some clients have said we’re like “creative therapists” and that’s a skill we’ve fine-tuned by helping hundreds of businesses and brands launch.
Our clients also respond to the fact that we have a proven process with proven results for other businesses like theirs. That transparency and credibility makes them feel confident and at ease in our work together.
Did that Wow! experience have any long-term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
When you do work you’re passionate about and talented at, great opportunities come your way. Your customers continue to refer you and they want to keep working with you. We have one client who gave us a couple of referrals which led to a total of 10 new clients because the people he referred kept referring us to other like-minded people. This is also why it is so important to do great work for the types of clients you really want to work with — they likely know more people like them!
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.
1. Know who you are and what you want to communicate. When you’re clear about what you stand for and what you’re all about, you’ll attract the very clients and customers you can create a Wow! experience for.
2. Create a genuine connection. It’s not just about communicating who you are to your dream clients, but also about understanding who they are. At the basic level: What is their age, gender and how do they spend their money? Even more importantly, where do they get the information that influences their purchases? What are their passions and what do they really care about? What are their goals, core needs and desires? Develop a deep understanding of them so you can meet them where they are, speak their language and connect effortlessly.
3. Be selective about your clients. Not everyone who’s interested in working with you is going to be the right fit. It’s important that clients align with your values so be clear about the people you want to work with. Your messaging should make your target audience feel like you’re speaking directly to them. Everything you do should convey that you understand and care about them. You will also always do your best work when you’re doing it for people you truly care about.
4. Communicate with your audience in fresh, authentic ways. Nobody wants their inbox flooded with unoriginal and useless content. Give your current and future clients the information they need and desire. Share your knowledge freely, inspire them and introduce them to like-minded brands and clients. Give them value every time you talk to them and they’ll be waiting to hear from you.
5. Be constant and consistent. You can’t send a single email or post once on social media and expect your audience to respond or react. You have to continue to meet them where they are. For us, that means having a blog, a newsletter, valuable tools and resources, and a presence on the social networks our clients use. For you, that could mean something entirely different. The point is to be thoughtful about where your clients get their information and how they make decisions and meet them there while speaking their language.
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?
Featuring and promoting our current clients on our newsletter and social media has worked well for us. It builds the relationship even more. We have actually had several clients do business with each other because of the awareness raised, and we have seen our clients become resources for each other as well. A great community tends to be a side effect of a great working relationship.
You should also always be collecting and showcasing great testimonials. If you have a client who has a great experience, ask them to talk about it! For example, we highlight client testimonials on our website and social media channels. Prospective clients want to see the results you’ve created for others. It makes them feel more confident investing with you.
You can also create Wow! experiences that turn someone into an advocate for your brand before they even work with you. For example, we have brand workbooks and tools on DesignGood.com that visitors can download for free. Even if they don’t end up becoming an immediate client, if they love our free resources then they feel connected to our brand and could end up referring us to someone else or becoming a client down the road.
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. 🙂
At DesignGood, we’re all about what it means to be a “high-vibe entrepreneur.” High-vibe entrepreneurs mindfully conduct their life and business in sync with who they truly are. They use their work to make positive, meaningful connections, and their business is intentional, purposeful and embodies their unique gifts.
I am extremely passionate about supporting these people and encouraging them to start their own businesses.
The work they do is so important because they are truly helping others through their business, and that very business also supports the lives they want to live. Being talented and passionate about your work is the only way for it to be sustainable. We need more passionate people starting businesses!
I’m working to build a movement that empowers more people to find their unique path though their work — the path where they can bring more of their gifts into the world and be more fulfilled. That’s what will ultimately bring people real, lasting success and joy.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!