Danielle Joseph is the founder of Function Creative, a full-service brand and web design studio, and the author of The Brand Planner: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Brand Clarity & Business Direction. Her most recent project is Willowspace, a client management portal for freelancers and agencies that will be launching in the next few weeks.
In this episode of Post Status Draft, Danielle talks with Brian about her work with clients as a designer and how that has shaped the direction of her agency and Willowspace.
Freelance designers and any service-based businesses can benefit from a client management portal, but Willowspace goes a step further. it also has CRM style functions like lead capture forms to go with email integration, proposal generation, contracts, invoicing, and online payments. Leads become paying clients, and as they check in on their project status, you can offer them additional services. The client experience is very simple and can be managed through email with payments made in their own currency.
🔗 Mentioned in the show
- Danielle Joseph (@hellofunction, LinkedIn)
- Function Creative (Instagram: hellofunction)
Machine Generated Transcript
Brian Krogsgard: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Post Status Draft. My name is Brian Krogsgard . Today. We're digging into the business of working with clients with Danielle Joseph. Before we get to it, though, I want to tell you about Gravity Forms they're our partner for this episode, you can just go to poststatus.com/gravity to learn more about it.
[00:00:21] It's a great tool for all of your forms that you have on your website. It's the easiest and most trusted, advanced form. The solution for WordPress I've used Gravity Forms for, I think a decade. Now it's the only WordPress for management plugin that you'll ever need. Go to poststatus.com/gravity to check it out.
[00:00:43] Thanks so much to Gravity Forms for being our partner. Let's get to the episode by introducing our guest. Danielle, it's nice to meet you. How are you?
[00:00:56]Danielle Joseph: [00:00:56] Nice to meet you too. Thank you for having me. I'm doing well. How are you?
[00:00:59]Brian Krogsgard: [00:00:59] I am doing well. It's a pleasure to have you. Your name is Danielle Joseph, and you do multiple things.
[00:01:05] There's Willow Space. There's Function. Creative. Why don't you give our audience the introduction? How would you introduce yourself personally, professionally?
[00:01:15] Danielle Joseph: [00:01:15] Multi passionate. Yes, I do a couple of things. The main things that I'm doing right now, I run a design studio, full service design studio that is function creative.
[00:01:24]So in there we're doing a lot of work with clients for. Brands and websites mainly, but supporting them on any kind of marketing capacity that they need with those main services being okay. Kind of at the forefront. And then with that recently, as of last summer I've taken on building a separate sort of side project.
[00:01:43] That's a little bit of a branch off Function, which is called Willow Space and that is a software. So it's an online software and app or a platform, whatever you wish to call online applications these days. And that is basically for managing clients. So it's, it really, it goes hand in hand with what I'm doing in the studio.
[00:01:59] And I built out a platform basically to help us run things more smoothly and give our clients a better online experience with invoices platforms like that and things like forms, proposals just basically the ways that we communicate and collaborate with our clients online and remotely.
[00:02:17] Brian Krogsgard: [00:02:17] So Willow Space has the tools built into it that.
[00:02:21] Essentially the various parts of the process, whether that's sending the invoices or project updates maybe upsells that they have during the project, all of those experiences that you have with the client, you built those into this user interface.
[00:02:37] Danielle Joseph: [00:02:37] Exactly. Yeah. So, you know, as I was over the course of the past seven years of running the studio and working with clients remotely the whole time, so we never have been in a physical location.
[00:02:47] And that's just the way that we've kind of brought our values into the business as well. But in being remote with clients, we've tried out many different platforms and nothing was really hitting the nail on the head for us in terms of the quality of. How things felt when we were sending things off.
[00:03:02] So, yes, so we'll have space is basically a software online that you can use to send really nice looking proposals, have your client just accept them right. In the platform, you can send, you know, nice client portals, where your client can access all of their work through a link. They can see what's outstanding or where you're at with the project, that kind of thing.
[00:03:18] Brian Krogsgard: [00:03:18] Yeah, it looks really nice. And for people listening along, it's at willowspace.co, go ahead and get the link out there. So people that want to check it out while they hear us talk can do so, of course, for you to know this problem set, you have been dealing with clients for a long time. So, when did you first get into, you know, managing client experiences?
[00:03:40] Danielle Joseph: [00:03:40] So Function started in 2014. And before that I was working corporate with Microsoft on their advertising team, and then with a small Canadian photography company on their print design. So it's kind of a lead designer on their printing assets. And from there, I started function 2014 as like a full service studio.
[00:04:00] It started off as just me and I worked with mainly just clients. Kind of that. I found through word of mouth and through some online searching and digging. I think my first like real client was through a Reddit threads, which is not the place I tell most people to go check out, but it worked out really well.
[00:04:16]And then it really just kind of spiraled and built from there. And we've brought on, you know, designers, interns, other developers, and things like that along the way, too. So that we've got a little bit more of a team behind us to help support all the different kinds of needs that we have with our clients. Now.
[00:04:30] Brian Krogsgard: [00:04:30] So since you were initially like a one person business, but putting your, I, it seems like you were putting your business name first. You weren't saying, Hey, you're hiring Danielle. It was, Hey, you're hiring Function. How did that impact the client relationship in a positive way?
[00:04:47]Danielle Joseph: [00:04:47] So that's a good question. Cause I actually put a lot of thought into the name of it when I first started it, because of that, mainly I'm thinking like, should I just use my name or should I use a sort of like the studio name? And at the very beginning function was a studio name because of the vision that I. Had to do, you know, there may be a point where it's not just me anymore.
[00:05:06]And so I kept that vision kind of at the very beginning. And although on the website or like any of my communications, I did have the people would land on function and then it would still say mainly I was speaking as myself. I was speaking through like a first person and introducing myself to people through the website experience.
[00:05:22] But yeah, it was very, I think, intentional in just foreseeing that I wanted to grow into a little bit more than just my, you know, my own input, my own insights and things like that. So I did that at the beginning of the, with the name and just, we kind of grew and switched around our language from there over the past several years.
[00:05:41] Brian Krogsgard: [00:05:41] Yeah. And do you think that's enabled you to attract more serious work because people are hiring an agency and not. The, you know, an individual,
[00:05:53] Danielle Joseph: [00:05:53] I think it's, I think it's very intentional and thinking about that because of the kind of client you do, you want to attract. And so, for function having, you know, a studio.
[00:06:01] I guess personality to it and it gravitates towards more of a studio, an agency, or a team behind us. Then I believe we do attract a bit more of a type of client. I think people who are searching for more robust projects like Mo we do really thorough branding and website design. So we're not really take, we don't take on projects necessarily that are like just people getting started or just needing a logo or just needing some business cards done.
[00:06:24] So I think when people see the studio behind it, they, there's an element of just the type of maybe packagers projects you're going to be working on with that individual client, whatever the case may be. Whereas if I had gone in a, sort of more of a freelance. Direction, which also is a very successful route.
[00:06:39] I think that also attracts a certain type of client and both are, I think both can totally be equally successful and just whatever your vision is for what you want, because though you might be bringing on bigger clients that doesn't mean you can take on as much. And you've got to have maybe a little bit more of a team behind you to do that and support it.
[00:06:53]So I really just, I think it's a matter of figuring out exactly who you want to be working with and what your clients are doing so that you can start to, you know, attract the right kind of projects.
[00:07:01] Brian Krogsgard: [00:07:01] You said y'all do a lot of branding and design Did you initially pitch that as the primary deliverable or have you always offered kind of a total package, you know, you'll get the development and website and everything, or did you kind of work up to expanding the services?
[00:07:18] Danielle Joseph: [00:07:18] It's been a bit of a workup, but I would say actually, even from the beginning, mainly I was focused on brand work and. I think in the beginning, it was more likely that perhaps we were like, I was taking on other projects if it was just me working on it, where they were smaller scale projects. And but like I said earlier, like my first biggest client was from Reddit and it was a full brand project and website.
[00:07:40] And so right from the get-go I kind of had this. Experienced under my belt of, Oh, I really like working with people from like the beginning phases of, you know, bringing this brand strategy to life through to putting it on a website and making a whole experience around it. So it's always been.
[00:07:54] Revolving around branding first and like website work. But I think over the years, it's just basically gone from things like pre-built packages to whatever you need for that to like, just get in touch with us. So it's just, it's evolved in its own way in terms of how we portray our services, I would say, but it's always really stuck to the core of branding.
[00:08:14] Brian Krogsgard: [00:08:14] So as you've gone through this process, you've dealt with a lot of clients and stuff. And then it came into a Willow Space. How well did it translate as a product or did you intentionally aim the product at various industries or did it start primarily geared towards people like yourself doing web work?
[00:08:35] Danielle Joseph: [00:08:35] Hm. So I think initially the idea Willow Space was born because I mainly had a problem that I was seeing in my business that I wanted to figure out I wanted to make it better, but what I think happens and maybe some other studios and designers can even developers can probably relate to, is that over the course of years and putting your work out there, I have found that a lot of other designers follow me or.
[00:08:58]Our subscribed to, you know, our newsletter and things like that. So you almost have like these two audiences where you've got people looking into you as perspective agency to work with, or you've also got a bunch of other studios or designers or developers or freelancers following along, just to keep up with what you're doing and they're interested in what you're working on and things like that, which is cool.
[00:09:15] And so over the years there's been different ways that I've tried to serve that community as well. Through just different things, like little workshops for designers that, you know, I may have been able to offer some insight into one thing of how I do it and, you know, share that knowledge.
[00:09:28] But Willow Space started out as that idea of, I have this problem in my studio. How can I fix this? And then also it kind of naturally just made sense because I've got a community of all of these. Other designers. So I really did build it with, you know, designers and freelancers and people who are doing sort of service-based businesses or like one-on-one client work.
[00:09:47] I built this whole thing with them in mind. Probably because of those two things that I saw community and I saw a problem.
[00:09:54] Brian Krogsgard: [00:09:54] Yeah. And you said that you all are remote based in terms of your team. Are your clients, did it, or do they tend to be all over or do you get clients largely from, I believe Ontario's where you're based.
[00:10:09] Danielle Joseph: [00:10:09] Yeah. So I we're in Ontario, Canada, and we actually like. Most of the clients are just all over the place. So we were, which is really nice. Like, I really liked that aspect of having a remote studio. It's always really nice to like, there's something special when you do get a client that you work with in your, you know, close to your city or wherever you are, because there's that little bit of just personal, a little bit more intimate of like, okay, we are from the same area.
[00:10:33] And so there's a little bit more magic that happens in that sense, but it's actually. Been more of a draw for me to have clients from all over the place. We've worked with people, lots of people in the States, lots of people all over Canada. We've worked with people quite a few actually clients in Norway.
[00:10:47] Surprisingly, I think we're just kind of trickles wherever you start to work with. Yeah.
[00:10:51] Brian Krogsgard: [00:10:51] Well that means you're getting good referral business.
[00:10:53] Danielle Joseph: [00:10:53] So that's a good thing. Referrals are huge because I, you know, and that's another reason we even like went in the direction of WellSpace is just referrals are.
[00:11:01] Such a, still such a huge important part of the marketing of the studio. So yeah, we work with clients really all over the place and it's been one of the best and one of my most favorite things about being a remote studio.
[00:11:12] Brian Krogsgard: [00:11:12] Yeah, for sure. Do you do do you do any location-based marketing or do you do any outbound marketing or is all your, are all your leads based on referrals?
[00:11:22] Danielle Joseph: [00:11:22] Honestly, like 95% of them are probably referral based at this point. We get a lot of. Like people will be, we'll get a lot of people coming to us through search through, which is great, like SEO search, all that stuff is wonderful. And I think most of the people who are finding us online that effort is more of a local marketing effort.
[00:11:40] Like it's, I think people who are finding us through search engines just naturally organically are finding us through like Toronto design studio or like Ontario design studio. But yeah, in terms of like marketing and putting ourselves out there, like, I have always been a huge advocate of client experience.
[00:11:55] And if you can give your clients a really solid experience, then like that's a self that's like an autopilot marketing program. That's going to be the most effective in my opinion, anyways. So that's been really, what's driven the growth of the studio. Two is just really starting to get projects under your belt and getting people, just talking about what you're doing.
[00:12:11] Brian Krogsgard: [00:12:11] Well, that's a great transition to be able to go from getting to know, you know, you and your business a little bit and start digging into the client experience aspect. So why don't we just start off with what are a couple of the big mistakes that you see people make when they're setting up client experience? You know, that those initial meetings, that early, early experiences with their new clients.
[00:12:31]Danielle Joseph: [00:12:31] I see a couple of the forefront usually they're happening. So I think when we think of a client experience and when I'm looking at this fro for our studio is basically how can we make it as easy as possible for people to find us say yes to working with us.
[00:12:45] And then also at the end of our project, say, Hey, I want to tell everybody about this. Thing that you just did for me. And so some of the mistakes, I think that we can make an as designers or studios start with the first initial, like outreach, like the first, when people are reaching out to kind of inquire about products then or services that you're offering.
[00:13:04] I think it's really important to start there with like, providing this. Over the top experience of just making sure they have all the information that they need. So your obviously your website and things like that, that they're trickling in from should be, you know, those should be up to standard as well, to be able to give people the information they need quickly.
[00:13:20]But once someone takes that initiative to say, Hey, can you tell me more about your services or I have this project that I want to start. That first response that you give back should be like the first. Step in providing a really excellent experience. And so we try really hard to not make the mistakes of like letting those sit in our inbox for too long.
[00:13:37]And we follow up immediately with a lookbook. So it's sort of, it's sort of like our website is this brochure. And then if people reach out and they want more information, we give them sort of this book more of like a magazine style. Like here's a more information for the people who are really interested.
[00:13:50]So having those. Tools and resources in place at the very beginning, I think is key because you could be missing out on a lot of opportunity to engage those people right. When they're interested. So yeah, so that's a big one is just not following up in a way that makes it easy for people to either get more info or, you know, take the next step with you.
[00:14:05] So if your next step is a consultation call with them or getting on a call with them, then, you know, send them a link to your calendar right. In that email and say, if you are interested, here's. You know, here, you can book a time and we can get on a call and chat a little bit more. So just like those steps to make it extremely easy, don't send them off to like some random URL that then they have to scroll through and read and find the booking link or, you know, just make it really easy and say, here's how you can take the next step. Here's the information that you're looking for.
[00:14:30] Brian Krogsgard: [00:14:30] I'm here. If you need me a little bit of a guided process for them, get them onboarded. When you do have people come to you out of curiosity, are they typically coming because they know of your. You know, agencies design experience, and they have a certain look that they're attracted to, or they come into you and saying, Hey, here's our problem. We need to increase our sales or our conversions, or, you know, more specific tangible things like that.
[00:14:56] Danielle Joseph: [00:14:56] I think it's sort of a mix, I would say, like we're mostly people coming to us. With the intention of like having a project at that they want to work on. I think over time, I think it's just inevitable that studios and designers have a particular style maybe that they're showcasing and what we've tried to do actually in the past, I would say a couple of years with function is trying to diversify our, what we're showing.
[00:15:19] Cause sometimes even though we're working on a whole bunch of different cool projects, like your mind is still gravitating towards this one style. So I, if I'm putting up a portfolio piece, might. The only showing clients that have this particular industry or style. And if that's the nature, like that's what you're trying to go for.
[00:15:33] And you really do want to attract that kind of. Client then I think that's absolutely a good strategy, but for us, you know, I like to diversify what we're showing so that it's not necessarily just the style that people are seeing. They're seeing that we're really able to get into a project and customize the solution for them.
[00:15:47]And I tell people that right from the beginning of starting those conversations. So if they come to us with a particular project as most do then we tell them like, we've worked with lots of different industries, lots of different styles or aesthetics. Like it's really just about getting into the nitty-gritty of your business.
[00:16:00] Your goals and like what you're doing this for and designing around that, as opposed to having this sort of style or direction that we would just naturally take clients into
[00:16:07] Brian Krogsgard: [00:16:07] kind of reminds me of if you know, the term like typecasting and acting, you know, you might have an actor who's very capable as an individual and, you know, she's played.
[00:16:19] Several different roles in life, but they keep getting cast in for the same type of role, because it's like, Oh, well I know you as this. I can imagine agencies run into very similar patterns sometimes, which I guess can be good and bad. Like you said. It could be great to be super reputable within an industry that has a lot of work, but you may not, it may not be like the best representation of how well you can kind of flex your muscles as an agency.
[00:16:44] Yeah, for sure. How do you this gets more into the project side. I know. I want to get back to the client side, but you got me thinking on this front. How do you steer your agency towards the type of work that you want to do to like stay diversified, get it, get within whatever realm, what like that you think that you'd be really great at versus saying yes to whatever comes in.
[00:17:06] Danielle Joseph: [00:17:06] I think there's like a, there's a time and a place. I think that most probably designer studios and agencies, developers, like we all probably have had abs and flows to, like, we have to just say yes to what's coming in and versus, okay. We can be a little bit more, you know, picky about who we're working with.
[00:17:19]And there's time and place for both of those, I think for sure. But what we've really tried to focus on is just being able to put out what we. Can do in terms of bringing strategy to life in different ways. So again, like going back to that, diversifying our portfolio is a really big one this past couple of years that we wanted to focus on was just like you know, we were getting a lot of wellness and handmade based businesses, which I love working with, but I also really love working with, you know, like doctor clinics and things like that.
[00:17:45] So we were saying, you know, we're showing a lot of this really beautiful work of these beautiful candle companies and tea companies, and I love that aesthetic, but then we're also. I don't want to just pin hold ourselves to that realm. Or just even product based. Like, it's really nice for us to be able to flex our creativity too, and be able to have creative freedom with all these different industries.
[00:18:05] So I think really, if you're looking at what you want to attract, like if you are wanting someone who wants to have a variety in what you're working on and not just stick to one style or want to set it, or one company type or industry, then really pay attention to what you're putting out in your portfolio too.
[00:18:19] Cause those people who do hear about you will. Inevitably, like, look you up or find you on social media or find your portfolio in some way or another. And, you know, they may make a really quick judgment if they're not seeing themselves fitting into that. And so that's what we try and avoid too. It's just like, see all this different stuff we can do.
[00:18:34] There's different kinds of brands and different kinds of aesthetic. That's what we want people to be able to picture themselves in is just, I have this business, I have this problem. Can you help me with it?
[00:18:44] Brian Krogsgard: [00:18:44] And then finally on this front you know, someone comes to you and they may have. An appeal to like your design history that they've seen the name of the agency is Function.
[00:18:55] So like how do you drive them towards that you know, the function or the goal or what they hope to achieve, turning something tangible? There's an old example that I just always remember is we had a client that an agency I worked at years ago and they knew. The value of someone that came in the door.
[00:19:14] Once they came in the door, that individual was worth about a thousand dollars of revenue. So they were like, if we can get X number of people in the door due to our, you know, website design, all the stuff we do, we know that we can turn that into a thousand dollars per person. So the goal was how do we create in-person visits for them?
[00:19:33] And that was a very specific thing. How do you turn. You know, someone coming to you for design into that type of more tangible, here's what we're hoping to achieve with this project.
[00:19:44] Danielle Joseph: [00:19:44] Yeah, I think there's a couple of really good ways that we've like it's been a trial and error thing. I think that happens with over the course of having a business like this, but what we've really driven the point home about in our process is strategy.
[00:19:57] And so people, you know, in this particular case, People have like the shiny object syndrome where they come in and they want a new website, so they need a website because that's, what's going to make them the sales and that's, what's going to get their money, making, you know, tasks up and running. So, they need a website, but for us as an agency, as a studio, we, we have to kind of guide them back and say, okay, That's wonderful.
[00:20:18] We're going to get that website up so that you can make more money. But to start that we have to go back some steps. We've got to really dig into the strategy of the brand and who you're going to be selling to. And what is the essence of the brand? What's the voice of the brand? Like what's the positioning here.
[00:20:32]And then starting to. Bring all of that strategy in that foundation that people don't necessarily really aren't jazzed about from the very beginning, like this, isn't the thing that they get really excited about when you first talked to them. They're really excited about that website that they saw that you built because they want one like that.
[00:20:45]But I think as a good, hopefully like a good designer in a good approach that I would take for sure with all of my clients is to say, let's get back to the foundation, let's build this so that you can have a really solid timeless experience for the website. And then what I find is. Most of the time, clients are like very jazzed about that strategy after we go through that phase, like they don't, it's a thing that they didn't realize they needed.
[00:21:07] So I think when you get someone kind of through the door, through your inbox, like a lead and things like that is yes, they're going to come in with that shiny object that they want. And I think in order for. Me to be able to take them there. I need to get down to the nitty gritty of things and make sure that it works.
[00:21:21] And that's where the name function even came from is that first and foremost, it needs to work and it needs to achieve these goals that you're setting. And without that strategy work, without those steps before we can't really do a good job at that.
[00:21:33] Brian Krogsgard: [00:21:33] Earlier you talked about, you know, getting someone onboarded well, in the sense of the way you respond to them quickly set those expectations.
[00:21:42] How do you keep them happy? Especially as potential changes could occur in the timeline or the scope of the work, things like that.
[00:21:51] Danielle Joseph: [00:21:51] Yeah. I think when I'm talking about the client process at the beginning, onboarding is just one piece. Cause then there's the whole project you go through, right?
[00:21:56] Like you've you want to keep that momentum and keep that client experience elevated throughout the whole time that they're working with you and you know, every interaction that they're having. So after we sort of onboarded and worked through, we've put a lot of processes and systems in place in our studio that we still have an element of flexibility too.
[00:22:13] So one thing is. That's kind of ebbed and flowed over the years, too, for me is processes and systems. And I'm a very big processes and systems person I'm, you know, Willow Space is that it's a place for processes and systems. But at the same time, like all of these things that have popped up in the online business world over the years of like automation and, you know, getting things automated and your process down, and I think you still really need to have an element of flexibility to it.
[00:22:37] If you're a one-on-one. Person working with clients like that, that needs a personal touch to, I can't all feel automated or else it doesn't feel good. But with the whole project, you know, with websites in particular, there's lots of things that. Change and the scope does change and there's reviews and revisions and all of that stuff.
[00:22:54] So, something that we like to do is like, when we're asking for feedback from clients is provide them with a form to fill out for their feedback or provide them with very clear instructions of like, how to provide that feedback to you. So with our website, for example, for sending off homepage design send the homepage design and send a form or really specific instructions of if you could provide me with your feedback in this format, you know, bullet point from top of the page to the bottom years, how you can address image changes, that kind of thing.
[00:23:19] That's been extremely helpful and give them dates, like give them dates to get it to you by like, if you could get this to me by end of the week, I really would appreciate that. So we can keep going, having these little. Touch points throughout your whole project and process, I think is key in keeping the project flowing and keeping your clients really happy about how easy you're making it for them.
[00:23:38] Because if you just leave them with, you know, open-ended let me know what you think, and you just don't put any like stiff. You don't know what you'll get back. You do not, no what you'll get back and you don't know when you'll get it back. Like, you know, good luck if you wanted to get that project done on time, because.
[00:23:52] It's amazing how like, time can just slip through the cracks if you don't put these things in place. And then at the end of it, regardless of if your client was like quick and getting back to you or not, it always will probably reflect back on the studio or the designer to say, Oh, like they didn't get my project done in time, you know?
[00:24:07] Like, so if you're doing everything you can to keep these things on track and you're keeping your clients in, you know, in line with this process and keeping them. In a good experience, then that's all just going to pay off in the end of it was a good experience for them.
[00:24:20] Brian Krogsgard: [00:24:20] Yeah. So if we backtrack on that, you send up, send it off and then you're setting expectations and you're like, okay, we're going to have a meeting next Tuesday about this you're bracketing for them, what their expectations should be.
[00:24:32] And that way, if they're one of those types, they receive it. And then they like pour over it and give you all this information right away and you get it two hours later and you're like, but I'm working on other stuff they know next Tuesday or whatever is the day that this is matters for vice-versa for the procrastinator client.
[00:24:51] Like that just disappears for a month and then asks, why is this project off the rails? It's like, well, you're the reason it's off the rails. You're setting home.
[00:25:00] Danielle Joseph: [00:25:00] Yeah, exactly. And we just, yeah. Trying to just keep. Everything's sort of in that, that like step-by-step process or like getting them through that experience as I call it is just, those are the touch points that are super important.
[00:25:12] But again, like with flexibility. Cause of course, like we can't all pigeonhole everything and keep it all, like I said, it's…
[00:25:19]Brian Krogsgard: [00:25:19] but that enables you to normalize that process to. It for planning internally, if nothing else, so that you can know like what we can spend time on and you kind of prevent that tornado client, right, from just going nuts on you. What other tips do you have in that communications pipeline for helping. You know, these projects succeed as best you can.
[00:25:43] Danielle Joseph: [00:25:43] I think just having tools in your kind of tool belt for things that can come up too. Like the feedback is a really good one because it is the thing that we all know.
[00:25:52] And, you know, some people even make dread like the feedback rounds, cause you just don't know what you're going to get. And some clients are. Really just like, Nope, the hands-off and that looks great. And some people are really into being collaborative about the process. But having like tools that you can refer back to.
[00:26:05] So, you know, if a project if you've got all of your stuff in order and your experience so far has been pretty smooth, then likely your clients have already read through like a welcome or onboarding pack where they've already kind of signed off on like an agreement and they understand how things are working.
[00:26:20] You know, at the points that they're in the project. So that's a tool in your toolkit that you can just be like, Hey, remember that thing that we reviewed together, where you need to get back to me in five days or less about these things for the project to keep going. We're going to just go back to that and make sure that we're still on track or else it's going to delay by X amount of days or time or whatever the case may be.
[00:26:36] So, just when you have those things set up, I think that makes everything else later in the project, a lot easier to refer back to a lot easier to bring back up. Or if you do have a forum for feedback, then that's. You know, you've got things that you can be sending them if they are at a loss or they don't know where to go from there and things like that.
[00:26:52] If I'm not sure, like how to give you your thoughts, how to give you your thoughts and things like that
[00:26:55] Brian Krogsgard: [00:26:55] How do you mix in with this, the different types of communication channels that exist. So if you have an in-person meeting back when we had those sometimes or a zoom call or a phone call, How do you turn that information that you receive into more permanent documentation and communications, or do you try to steer people through emails and, you know, form entries to keep it nice and tidy? How do you balance that with different clients?
[00:27:21]Danielle Joseph: [00:27:21] This is a good question because I think there's so many tools now and we've tried different ways because our process has been something that we've put so much emphasis on. We've tried different ways of like, should we have, you know, all of our clients on Slack and be able to open that channel up to more DM style messaging?
[00:27:36] Or should we have people submit their feedback on a particular website or platform as opposed to emailing us. And we always do come back to emails. So even when you're having. A zoom call or say it was in person. What we always do is we want to recap or follow up probably within, even the same day or like that later that day, just a recap of what we went through on the call.
[00:27:56] So, for us that looks like, you know, if we're having a consultation call with a potential client, then I always tell them on the phone, you know, don't worry about trying to jot down all of the notes for all of this. I'm going to recap things for you. And I send them like a nice and tidy email after that goes through our process and has some of those dates or like a proposal with it.
[00:28:13]So always just kind of be following up to things with email and, you know, if a client disappears for a week on end and you haven't heard back from them yet, and it's two days past when they were supposed to, you know, give you your feedback for your website that you've designed for them then always just kind of keep it on your radar to be checking in and like, Do and documenting those things so that, you know, you are, you're not that person who, yes, they've ghosted you a little bit, but like I said, no matter how many times they'll ghost you.
[00:28:39] And I think this goes for like any client experience or customer experience that we have. Out and about in daily life. Like, no matter how much we don't put into it, either, like we have an expectation that they will also follow up with us. So if you disappear too, then like that client experience is also on you.
[00:28:54] So yeah, so just try and keep everything documented, try and follow up with like these things I find, honestly, email is just where I work best. I've tried to use like project management systems with clients. I don't like having to like. Train and explain where to do new things. Cause everyone's always…
[00:29:10] Brian Krogsgard: [00:29:10] …management system. Do you pull the emails out and for your own project management system and doc like longer-term documentation? Because what I run into is that my Gmail ends up being this dark forest that I just searched for keywords and pray it comes up, right?
[00:29:24] Danielle Joseph: [00:29:24] Yeah, exactly. We do. And like, even down to like, So even with Willow Space or the client management platform that you're going to be using, like that is usually done, you can usually integrate those with email.
[00:29:33] And that's what we've done with WellSpace too, is that you can just integrate it with your email. So yes, your client will sign the proposal or sign a contract in Willow Space, but that'll just pop into your email and say, they've signed it. Here's the contract. And I find that easier than having to like log into another system.
[00:29:47] And then when, you know, when we're getting signed things back or we're getting proposals that have been accepted, then just go in and just quickly export it and even just like, save it for your own files. Just having that. It's just made things a little bit easier in email for me than trying to track it on all these other platforms and yeah.
[00:30:01] Getting a client to like, try like that client might be also working with other companies on different things. And they're in like five different platforms at this point. And that's not a good client
[00:30:10] Brian Krogsgard: [00:30:10] Trello over here and Asana over here and, you know, somebody wants to come and get hub only.
[00:30:15] Danielle Joseph: [00:30:15] Yeah. Yeah. So it's just that's not a great client experience either to have to like. Keep up with all of that. So just making it as easy as possible for your clients while. So again like that flexibility, you just feel like if email is best for you, same with our forms. Like when we're sending feedback forms, I usually will tell the client here is a feedback form.
[00:30:31] That's really great for collecting your thoughts and getting your, you know, your feedback back to us on this design. But if you prefer email, feel free to just list it out, just be really explicit in your instructions. You know, use bullet points. Get it back to me by this date, because, you know, forums, you can have a due date on, but an email you can't. So spell it out.
[00:30:47] Brian Krogsgard: [00:30:47] Yeah, for sure. So when you talk about the Willow Space client portal that you create, and we blend it with what you just said about email, you're essentially shooting off notifications to say X, Y, Z, part of the process invoice or something receipt is available over here and you're pointing them to the portal where they can log in and they always know that's there that's the portal, but from a process perspective, you're still like emailing them the link and the notification so that they don't have to like, feel obligated to go check it all the time.
[00:31:21] It's still going to tell them when it's the right time to go and engage with the portal.
[00:31:25] Danielle Joseph: [00:31:25] Yes, exactly. And with that too, like with our portal, we wanted to make sure that clients didn't have to set up like an account to access it. So it's just a unique link and the customer will have space. So the user will space would be able to either password protect that or not.
[00:31:38] They're all unique, secure links. So as long as the client has that link they can just access to see. So yeah, it's available to them. If they ever are just sitting there being like, Hey, what's going on with, you know, that website page that she's working on, they could check the status on there if they thought to, but otherwise, yeah.
[00:31:51] They don't even have to think twice about it. The email is just going through their inbox. It's saying, you know, here's your invoice to pay. They click it. There's the Willow Space link to the portal and they can pay it through there. So it's all still very email accessible for me.
[00:32:02] Brian Krogsgard: [00:32:02] If I'm a, if I'm the person using Willow Space and I have clients, what does it look like for me? Is it branded with my stuff on it? Is it on a Willow Space domain, but you know, a sub domain for me or something like that? What's it look like for the user.
[00:32:18] Danielle Joseph: [00:32:18] Yeah. So you would definitely be able to go in and create the sub-domain for your business. We're also currently doing a lot of customization. So the first version of this will be that you'll have to definitely have your own sub domain. It'll have, you know, your business name at double-spaced dot app. And then you'll be able to customize like the font and the color that you're seeing. So throughout Willow Space, one of the cool features that.
[00:32:37] I, it was really important to me was that the user would be able to select their brand color for even when you're using it internally. So you may have like a brand color that's blue, it's not client facing, but it's cool for you to just be able to feel like it's your business color when you're in there.
[00:32:50]So it'll be definitely. Customized to that experience, you'll have your logo, and things like that will be on the client portal. And then it's in our pipeline to you to really be working on sort of like the ability to actually customize these further so that it's not, we don't want to recreate like a website experience for people.
[00:33:05] It's not that this needs to replace like a website. We have a lot of people telling us that to bypass these terrible client portals that they've seen on other platforms that they just create like their own pages in their website for each client. Which I think is a great workaround, but the idea with the client portal for Willow Space to just make it.
[00:33:19] Easier to customize so that it feels still on your brand, but it's not something you have to go like rebuild a whole website or a page for, and then that'll also be able to like, that'll come with other things, like being able to have maybe a step by step welcome pack that you can put in, you know, instead of sending all of these different links you know, you, then you send your one client, here's your welcome pack.
[00:33:38] And they can go in and like, step-by-step accepts the proposal or pay the invoice, whatever they need to do.
[00:33:43] Brian Krogsgard: [00:33:43] I was at work from a payments perspective. So if I send an invoice through Willow Space, what. What decisions or choices exist there in terms of actually getting paid?
[00:33:52] Danielle Joseph: [00:33:52] So one thing that was really important to me when I was doing it, because I work with so many people all over the place.
[00:33:58] Like I like to be able to, again, going back to like client experiences is important to me to be able to invoice my clients at their currency. So I will try and like send an estimate and I'll. Base it on, you know, the U S dollar or whatever the currency that we're basing on. But if I can invoice them in their currency, like that is, you know, like as a Canadian who shops a lot.
[00:34:15] Yeah. The state's like, it's something that we're all very used to, but it's so nice when you go on and Oh, it's Canadian dollars. Like I don't have to do that. Like mental conversion. Right. So one of the things that was important is that the invoices have like multi-currency support so that your client can see what.
[00:34:31] They need to pay in their currency so that they can pay. So it'll integrate with like your Stripe account so that it will just be like instant or whatever your pants are set up for in Stripe. But your clients will also be able to pay either a part of the invoice or they can pay the full invoice.
[00:34:46]You'll be able to invoice sort of at like milestones or dates or reoccurring. So if you have like a retainer client, you can just set it up and kind of forget it. And I'm just thinking if there's any other, like…
[00:34:56] Brian Krogsgard: [00:34:56] Did you do even like no online payments, like I've run into this where it's like a really large payment. It's like, eh, that three, it kind of hurts.
[00:35:04]Danielle Joseph: [00:35:04] Yeah, it does hurt. Yeah. Yeah. For sure. You can absolutely turn those off at any point. So like you can turn it off on like a higher level of all your invoices or if you're just particularly working with one client where you might be like higher fees, you don't want to accept online payments. You just click to turn it off on the backend
[00:35:18] Brian Krogsgard: [00:35:18] and whatever other instructions you offer.
[00:35:21] Danielle Joseph: [00:35:21] Yeah, exactly. And they can just follow the instructions that you put on the invoice and and go from there. But yeah, the invoicing was really important for me to have like flexibility, because again, like sometimes projects.
[00:35:29] Ebb and flow. And like, it's nice to be able to set up invoices and be able to invoice them milestones instead of, you know, like a specific date all the time. And then there's other kind of cool little things like it'll have auto, late fees on it. So if you're someone who does charge, you know, late fees and your clients are monthly paying their invoice, it'll add automatically the whatever percent you've set it at.
[00:35:48]All your tax stuff. Yeah. All of your tax stuff will be on there different tax settings. And and you can also, if there's people, I'm not sure. Some we've seen this before and there might be some industries where it's where it is more applicable, but you can also accept, you can turn on or off like tips so that people can put in additional dollar amounts if they want to.
[00:36:03]Brian Krogsgard: [00:36:03] That's really powerful for certain industries, certain types of professionals where their tip based income is a huge part of it. And yeah, I noticed this and maybe I just noticed it more with COVID stuff, but like, you kind of see the defaults and how much that impacts what. People actually do, like, if you don't put a tip line, people don't leave tips.
[00:36:25] Even if you have like a tip jar on the counter. But if there's a tip line on the receipt, you're probably going to get a lot of tips because people can just kind of default to whatever it recommends. So having that flexibility for that's great.
[00:36:37] Danielle Joseph: [00:36:37] Yeah. So it's very flexible and we just want to make sure that it's supporting kind of multi currencies across the gloves that people can feel really again, like solid in their experience that they're giving their clients.
[00:36:45] Brian Krogsgard: [00:36:45] Yeah. So what have you learned. From users of Willis face or people that you've interacted with building this tool about how to improve your own client interactions with function.
[00:36:57] Danielle Joseph: [00:36:57] What's really interesting so far with this whole endeavor is, so I obviously went into this building something and getting like I did a lot of market research and I'm lucky enough to have a lot of a bigger community of designers that do follow along and that I can kind of pull and ask and survey and things like that.
[00:37:12] So in the early stages of developing this out, it was important for me to get some information that way. But it is really interesting to always be hearing like different feedback of different people's processes. So for me, you know, with Will's bass, I was like, okay, I built this with the intention of, you know, lead comes into your inbox or gets in touch with you.
[00:37:30] I reach out with a followup with the lookbook and then I would book a consultation based on if they want it to move forward from, you know, the information that they get in the lookbook. I've talked to a lot of designers too, that they're like, wait, What, like I do you know, I do a call first and then I send a proposal.
[00:37:44] So after my consultation is when I would send the proposal. So that's sort of, my process is look, book, call proposal. Cause I like to get information on the call for the proposal, but you know, a lot of designers have gone back to me even like, wait, I send the proposal like first, like if they've got a project that they're emailing me about, I'll send a proposal and then if they want to go forward with that, we'll get on a call.
[00:38:02] So it's just like hearing people's different steps is so interesting to me. To be able to build it out in a way that is suitable to all of these different ways that we all work with people there's total, like you're validated in all the ways that you work with people, whether you're doing which step first.
[00:38:16]And then in that world branched out beyond like designers and developers. You know, a few coaches have been in Willow Space too, and been like, Oh, this is like so helpful for me to do this and this. And they would really like to bypass, you know, the like follow-up necessities. Like I usually just get people to book a call or something like that.
[00:38:33] So it is extremely interesting and extremely valuable to always be listening to and collecting feedback from users. Or if you are a studio or a developer, like. You know, at the end of a project to have your clients fill out a survey or something and get feedback so that you can always be listening to ways that you can make it better to ways that you can improve it.
[00:38:49] Brian Krogsgard: [00:38:49] Yeah. And this says it's launching spring 2021. So I know you've been doing this mostly with your own clients or testing purposes. So when can we expect to get our hands on it?
[00:39:02] Danielle Joseph: [00:39:02] Yeah, we are probably like. A week, two weeks away from getting people like opening up the sort of like opening up the gates. So yeah, we're like very much in the testing mode right now. And I think, you know, talking to the developers actually earlier this week I think we're going to be in really good shape for having our final testing happening next week. And then I'm really hopeful for like, first week of May getting people on
[00:39:25] Brian Krogsgard: [00:39:25] So people that are listening after the fact. Roughly May, 2021, you should be able to have some kind of access.
[00:39:30] Danielle Joseph: [00:39:30] Yeah. Right now there's a list. We've got a nice list of people that are waiting that I'm so grateful for. Just hanging out, waiting for us. But one thing that was extremely important to me when I first started, this was again like the experience of the person using Willow Space.
[00:39:44] And I had a lot of developers that I talked to in the initial stages telling me, you know, you can't do this. You can't go out with this whole product. You have to, you know, you should focus on one. Feature to have at your MVP, your first launch, you know, and I just kept saying like, no, and I'm paying the cost of like the time, like, of course I can't launch this whole thing in a couple of months, but it was extremely important to me that when it came available to be my community, that it was a fully functional platform.
[00:40:09] Brian Krogsgard: [00:40:09] Yeah. And it can be there and available for the whole process for the people who are interacting with our clients. Yeah. Awesome. What do you want to leave folks within terms of maybe advice for how to better handle their client relationships?
[00:40:27] Danielle Joseph: [00:40:27] I think just always kind of putting yourself in the shoes of the client because we can get so caught up in our own war, the way we work, that we forget sometimes how it might feel to be on the client side, like end of things.
[00:40:39] And I always joke with some of my clients that I'm a little bit more closed. They're open to that. I say like, I'm a bit of a therapist sometimes do, because you are working with these people who really just have these business projects, but you're also kind of holding their hand through like getting through.
[00:40:52] Blocks about like, you wouldn't believe how many times you're designing a website and someone just like, has such a block about photos that they're using or something. And that is hanging up the project by like weeks or, you know, so you kind of have to be putting yourself in the client's position a lot.
[00:41:07] And though it might seem really straightforward and easy for you. Just try and always go that extra mile of making it even easier for them to like, say yes or take the next step. Just. Make it as easy as possible. It might seem redundant. It might seem like you're annoying them by like sending that second followup that week, but like just do it because the chances are it's going to improve the client experience overall at the end of the project, we want them to be like, that was great.
[00:41:30] You made this so easy for me. And, you know, you're way more likely to tell people about experiences like that than you are about things that were just kind of mediocre.
[00:41:37] Brian Krogsgard: [00:41:37] Yeah, that was great. So Danielle people can go to hello, function.com to check out your agency and they can go to willowspace.co to sign up for the wait list, or depending on when you're listening to this, try out, Willow Space for yourself. I'm sure that's an exciting feeling to know that it's so close.
[00:41:53] Danielle Joseph: [00:41:53] Very exciting. It's been a very big labor of love and yeah, it's been, I'm so excited to get people actually like fully, you know, in many different industries using the tool so that we can keep getting feedback to you and making it better.
[00:42:04] Brian Krogsgard: [00:42:04] And if people want to keep up with you on social media or something like that's more, I don't know, like experiential, where should they do that? Where are you most active?
[00:42:14] Danielle Joseph: [00:42:14] They can find me specifically at anything. Hello functions. So all platforms are hello function. And then all Willow Space platforms are through willowspace.co.
[00:42:24] Brian Krogsgard: [00:42:24] Awesome. Thanks so much for joining me, Danielle. Thanks so much for everybody listening today, you can go to poststatus.com to learn more about Post Status. Go to poststatus.com/gravity. To check out our partner. Gravity forms is a really excellent tool to get the lead generation and other stuff that you might work collect on your website.
[00:42:42] Just go to poststatus.com for that. Catch everybody next time. Thanks Danielle.
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